Last week, while walking down East Washington Street, I stopped to take in the grandeur that is St. Joseph Catholic Church. This is a familiar ritual as this block in Butchertown is one of the best in the city. While staring at the building, reportedly with the tallest spires in the city, I noticed a hand above the central door. The carving was small and high above the sidewalk, but was this hand flipping me off? I saw one middle outstretched finger, but the index finger was obscured by the background. Strangely vulgar carving for a church, I thought.
Upon closer inspection, the index finger appeared from its stone field and the revelation of the peace symbol made everything okay. In reality, the sign is a religious one. It appears to be a version of the sign of the cross, and with the thumb extended could represent the Trinity. A version of this Trinity reference became a popular greeting in Eastern Europe known as the three-fingered salute.
After looking at this church for years, new details continually reveal themselves each time. The church was built in 1883.