Time capsule from 1966 found in Florida church altar

A time capsule from 1966 was discovered Wednesday in the marble altar of the Cathedral Basilica of St. Augustine in Florida when the altar was taken apart for renovation.

According to News 4 Jax, the object, which was actually a cardboard box, was made on February 22, 1966 and contained three newspapers, two photographs, a note from one of the painters, two medallions of Pope Paul VI, and some money.

The items found inside the 1966 time capsule in the Cathedral Basilica of St. Augustine include newspapers from the day, a few pictures, a note from one of the painters, two medallions of Pope Paul VI, and some money.(Photo: St. Augustine Diocese)

"It was not a surprise to find a time capsule in the altar of sacrifice," said Brian Baker of Baker Liturgical Art, which is in charge of the renovation. "It is a tradition to leave a time capsule in the main altar during a restoration."

Fr. Thomas Willis, the Cathedral's current rector, said that the three newspapers found in the time capsule were the Catholic papers The Wanderer and The Florida Catholic and the daily local paper The St. Augustine Record.

As for the pictures, they were of St. Peter's Square in Rome and a rector of the Cathedral in the 1960s, Msgr. John Burns.

Willis, who was eight when the church was completed in time for its blessing and opening in March 1966, said of the former rector, "[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 1960s renovation also left a little something in the time capsule. He wrote in his one-page note, "I really enjoyed working on this project and hope that the next company that works on the next renovation will enjoy it as much as I did."

The medallions included in the box, one of which is solid gold, were tokens of remembrance of Pope Paul VI's election as Supreme Pontiff in 1964 and the end of the Second Vatican Council in 1965.

And regarding the money found in the time capsule, Willis said, "The small change amounted to about a dollar. But there were also eight Morgan silver dollars with dates ranging from 1882 to 1900."

The cathedral plans to put the items in the box on display.

Meanwhile, Willis and those involved in the renovation are keen on keeping the Cathedral's tradition. Already they are contemplating what to place in the next time capsule.