Father Mychal’s City of God

Last summer I had a fresh encounter with the bit of trauma I didn’t know I’d buried from September 11, 2001. It was, in some way, courtesy of Father Mychal Judge, the beloved Franciscan friar and chaplain for the Fire Department of New York, who died at the World Trade Center on that day. Here’s the first blog post I wrote about that.

In the year since, as I’ve wandered around the city, I noted some further places associated with Father Mychal. It’s been a neat trip. Here are the photos.

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Fr. Mychal was born (as Robert Emmet Judge) in this house on Dean Street in Brooklyn on May 11, 1933. For decades he continued to list it as the place he was most from.

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I’m guessing this subway station looked about the same when Emmet (Mychal) likely used it as a kid.

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Father Mychal loved to stride across the Brooklyn Bridge, seeing this view of Manhattan – although this recent image, of course, shows the Freedom Tower near the previous location of the World Trade Center towers.

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I had a wonderful time walking across the Brooklyn Bridge on Labor Day weekend with a big cross-section of humanity (and some dogs).

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St. Francis of Assisi Roman Catholic Church on 31st Street in Manhattan was Fr. Mychal’s home for most of the 1980s and 90s. They’re open to everyone every day and have served breakfast to all in need just about every morning for almost a century.

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Inside St. Francis of Assisi Church, 31st Street

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This bronze statue of a beggar with a nailprint in his palm sits outside the 31st Street entrance to St. Francis of Assisi Church.

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Last time I went by, I gave “him” a freshly washed apple.

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This is what you see facing across the street from St. Francis of Assisi Church – particularly appropriate for the time the FDNY chaplain lived there!

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The Freedom Tower in Lower Manhattan, on a rainy day in July.

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This memorial on the 31st Street firehouse shows first responders carrying their beloved chaplain’s body out of the North Tower on 9/11.

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St. Peter’s Roman Catholic Church served as a staging area for first responders on 9/11. Fr. Mychal’s body was laid temporarily in front of the altar.

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The altar where firefighters laid Fr. Mychal’s body after his death early on 9/11. (Bonus: St. Elizabeth Ann Seton worshiped in this church in the early 19th century – the building is new since then, but the painting of the Crucifixion behind the altar is the same.)

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Outside St. Peter’s Church in Lower Manhattan

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The 9/11 memorial pool, on the site of the Twin Towers. I circumnambulated the entire memorial on one afternoon this summer.

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Fr. Mychal’s name among those of the FDNY who died at the World Trade Center.

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This memorial inside St. Francis of Assisi Church is made of steel from the World Trade Center.

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See Fr. Mychal standing to the right in his Franciscan habit? This is a stained-glass window in St. Francis of Assisi Church.

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The block of West 31st Street between 6th and 7th Avenues is called “Father Mychal F. Judge Street.”

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Art by New Yorker Yoko Ono in the plaza near the 9/11 memorial, July 2019

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Fr. Mychal late in his life, in his FDNY uniform and Roman collar. How great is that smile?

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