Because Baltimore  was founded by the Catholic Lord Baltimore (whose religion made him an unpopular person in his native Protestant England), the city has always been slightly more tolerant of different religions than other old East Coast metropolises. Fittingly, there are plenty of historically important houses of worship and sites with religious significance in the city.
In addition to the oldest cathedral in the nation, the Basilica of the Assumption , there’s the St. Jude Shrine (512 W. Saratoga St., 410/685-6026), which is the nationwide center for devotions to St. Jude, the patron for “cases despaired of”; petitioners seeking solace from across the nation and globe travel to this building for prayers.
The first Roman Catholic sisterhood of women of African decent in the world, the Oblate Sisters of Providence (701 Gun Rd., 410/242-8500, www.oblatesisters.com ), was founded in Baltimore  thanks to the work of Mother Mary Lange; they still operate from Baltimore today, though there is no formal museum to visit. Another site of interest to Catholics is the Mother Seton House and Old St. Mary’s Seminary (600 N. Paca St., 410/523-3443), where Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton (the first U.S.-born saint) led her young charges and founded what became the American parochial school system.
Protestants have played a major role in the city’s history as well, and four historic churches tell the tale of early Baltimore’s rise in fortunes. Just east of Oriole Park at Camden Yards  rises the Old Otterbein United Methodist Church (112 W. Conway St., 410/685-4703), completed in 1786 and the oldest extant church in Baltimore. The historic Lovely Lane Museum and United Methodist Church (2200 St. Paul St., 410/889-4458) is considered to be the mother church of American Methodism.
In Mount Vernon, the grand, ancient-looking Mount Vernon Place United Methodist Church (10 E. Mount Vernon Pl., 410/685-5290) dates from only 1872, but appears to be centuries old. Nearby Brown Memorial Presbyterian Church (1316 Park Ave., 410/523-1542) in Bolton Hill boasts fantastic Gothic architecture and 11 stunning Louis Tiffany stained-glass windows.
Baltimore’s  Jewish population was once one of the largest on the East Coast, though many Jews moved out of the city during the prolonged turmoil and decay that marked the late 20th century. The third-oldest synagogue in America, the 1845 Lloyd Street Synagogue (11 Lloyd St.) in East Baltimore, is currently undergoing a lengthy renovation that should return it to health, much like the surrounding neighborhood’s recent renewal. Contact the Jewish Museum of Maryland (15 Lloyd St., 410/732-6400, www.jhsm.org , Tues.–Fri. and Sun. noon–4 p.m., $8 adult, $3 child, $4 student) to arrange a tour. Tours are offered on Sundays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays at 1:00pm and 2:30pm.