Time Capsule From 1966 Discovered Inside Cathedral Altar (Photos)

| by Sean Kelly

A time capsule dating back to 1966 was discovered earlier this week in the altar of a cathedral in St. Augustine, Florida.

The sanctuary of the Cathedral Basilica of St. Augustine was in the middle of being renovated when the capsule was found inside of the disassembled altar. The cardboard box was dated Feb. 22, 1966, and included newspapers, a note from a painter, some pictures and two medallions of Pope Paul VI.

“It was not a surprise to find a time capsule in the altar of sacrifice,” said Brian Baker, whose company, Baker Liturgical Arts, was handling the renovation. “It is a tradition to leave a time capsule in the main altar during a restoration.”

Baker said the company that renovated the cathedral at the time left the newly-discovered time capsule, which also contained contributions from the pastor. “Every altar we’ve taken apart, 90 percent of the time we find a time capsule.”

Also inside the capsule were silver dollar coins that could potentially be worth a few thousand dollars today. 

Father Tom Willis, the cathedral’s current pastor, said the photos in the box featured the pastor who baptized him.

“I remember Msgr. Burns from when I was a child,” Willis said. “I was 8 years old when the church was completed in preparation for the March 1966 blessing and grand opening. The fact of the matter is there are many people in St. Augustine who remember him. He expended a lot of personal effort and energy during the Cathedral’s renovation of the mid-1960s.”

The foreman of the 1966 renovation crew reportedly left the note that was included in the capsule.

“I really enjoyed working on this project,” the capsule’s note read in part, “and hope that the next company that works on the next renovation will enjoy it as much as I did.”

“Almost 50 years later, I echo his sentiments,” Baker said. “My crew and I have thoroughly enjoyed the work and our time here in St. Augustine.”

Baker said that a new time capsule would be placed in the altar after the renovation is complete, and the 1966 capsule would remain alongside it to be opened during the next renovation.

My mind is already turning with ideas of what can go into the new one,” Willis said. “We’ll work closely with Mr. Baker and others to place appropriate items in it.”

Sources: News 4 Jax, St. Augustine Record / Photo Credit: