Sacred Heart's pipe organ fills church, hearts with music

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The Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Tampa is an opulent work of art – from the stained glass windows to the painted cathedral ceiling, but the sights of the church are outweighed by the beautiful sounds created by the stories-tall pipe organ.

The organ was installed in 1927 and it took a year to construct before being put into the church. At the time, it was the largest musical instrument in the state of Florida.

Originally there were more than 5,000 pipes, but now, organist Sean Fitzsimmons-Brown says it has been downsized to 3,000.

The organ’s beautiful sounds are created when an engine -- the organ’s original -- pushes about 10,000 cubic feet of pressurized wind through the pipes based on the keys pressed by Fitzsimmons-Brown.

The organ’s pipes are so tall, a ladder system must be used to reach the top of the musical instrument.

Fitzsimmons-Brown’s is a full-time job. He plays at least five services a weekend, plus weddings, funerals, and other services.  

Tours of the church are offered every second Sunday. Call 813-229-1595 for details or visit