Saints Peter and Paul Church, San Francisco

Saints Peter and Paul Church

Saints Peter and Paul Church
Location of Saints Peter and Paul Church
Basic information
Geographic coordinates 37°48′5.77″N 122°24′36.71″W / 37.8016028°N 122.4101972°W / 37.8016028; -122.4101972Coordinates: 37°48′5.77″N 122°24′36.71″W / 37.8016028°N 122.4101972°W / 37.8016028; -122.4101972
District Archdiocese of San Francisco
Province Archdiocese of San Francisco
Ecclesiastical or organizational status Parish
Leadership Archbishop of San Francisco
Direction of façade South

Saints Peter and Paul Church (Italian: Ss. Pietro e Paolo, Chinese: 圣伯多禄圣保禄教堂; pinyin: Guānhuà Shèngbǎoluó Shèngbǐde Jiàotáng) is a Roman Catholic Church in San Francisco's North Beach neighborhood. Located at 666 Filbert Street, it is directly across from Washington Square and is administered by the Salesians of Don Bosco. It is known as "la cattedrale italiana dell'Ovest", or "the Italian Cathedral of the West", and has served as the home church and cultural center for San Francisco's Italian-American community since its consecration.


During 1926-1927, the church was the target of radical anti-catholic anarchists, who instituted five separate bomb attacks against the building in the space of one year.[1] On March 6, 1927, police shot and killed one man and seriously wounded another, Celsten Eklund, a radical anarchist and local soapbox orator, as the two men attempted to light the fuse of a large dynamite bomb in front of the church.[1] The dead man, known only as 'Ricca', was never fully identified; Eklund died of his wounds some time later without giving any information about his co-conspirators.[1]

In recent years, Saints Peter and Paul has also become the home church for the city's Chinese-American Roman Catholic population, offering weekly masses in Italian, Cantonese, and English. Mass in Latin is offered monthly as well. [2]

Saints Peter and Paul serves the Archdiocese of San Francisco.

The church is prominently featured in the Clint Eastwood movies Dirty Harry (the Church, and nearby Dante Building, are the scene of sniper attacks by the "Scorpio Killer") and The Dead Pool. Scenes from Cecil B. DeMille's The Ten Commandments was filmed at the church while it was under construction. Parts of Sister Act 2 were also filmed here. [3]

After their civil ceremony in 1954, Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio returned for photographs on the steps of this church. DiMaggio was married to Dorothy Arnold in the church on November 19, 1939, but later divorced. Still married as far as the Church was concerned (having not obtained an annullment),[4] he could not be married in the Catholic Church. In a side entrance, Sts. Peter and Paul Church still showcases a photo in a book displaying proudly DiMaggio's marriage day photo-but with Arnold, not Monroe. DiMaggio's funeral was held here on March 11, 1999, officiated by lifelong family friend and confidant, Armand Oliveri, S.D.B., who politely refuses all interviews or requests to discuss any intimate details of Monroe's or DiMaggio's life.[5]

American pop singer Michelle Lambert, considers this church her spiritual home, and even portrayed Mary in “Las Posadas de San Francisco,” parade in 2010. [6]

In the 2015 disaster film San Andreas, the church and Washington Square was seen being hit by a tsunami as it reaches North Beach.


  1. 1 2 3 Issel, William, For Both Cross and Flag: Catholic Action, Anti-Catholicism, and National Security Politics in World War II San Francisco, Philadelphia PA: Temple University Press, ISBN 978-1-4399-0028-4 (2010) pp. 24-27
  3. "Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit (1993) - Filming locations". IMDB.
  4. Prior to the Second Vatican Council, an annulment, or "Catholic divorce," was not as readily available as it is today. See and it is unlikely that DiMaggio could have obtained one even if he had asked for one.
  6. "North Beach festival highlights parallels between homeless, Holy Family". 15 December 2010.
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