Old St. Patrick's Church

700 West Adams Chicago

In Search of 19th Century Chicago/Old St. Patrick's Church
Amy Bizzarri
Written By Amy Bizzarri

Founded by faithful Irish immigrants on Easter Sunday, 1846, in a wooden building at Randolph Street and DesPlaines Street, vibrant, Old St. Patrick's Church is considered the cornerstone of Irish-American culture in Chicago. The present, Romanesque church building, with its glorious, Celtic Revival ornamentation; soaring octagonal spires and yellow Cream City brick from Milwaukee set on a Lemont limestone base was dedicated on Christmas Day, 1856, making it one of the few buildings to survive the Chicago fire and the oldest standing church building in the city of Chicago. Celebrate mass here to connect with seven generations of parishioners, take part in one of the church's many neighborhoods, volunteer outreach programs, or attend the summer block party, where chances are you're bound to bump into your future bride or groom. St. Patrick's been connecting faith, community and the Irish culture in Chicago, the fourth largest Irish city in America, for close to 175 years. Upon arrival in Chicago, Irish immigrants would head straight to St. Pat's where they were welcomed with food, shelter and the support of other parishioners who were already well on their way towards the American dream. The interior of the church, which many compare to sitting inside an Easter egg, was inspired by the Celtic art exhibit at the Columbian Exposition of 1893. Chicago artist Thomas O’Shaughnessy created the 15 magnificent, art nouveau stained-glass windows, each pane inspired by the Book of Kells and depicting a scene from the life of the famous saints of Ireland. A towering statue of St. Patrick stands by the altar, welcoming his Irish family to Chicago. Each summer, St. Pat's hosts the World's Largest Block Party. In 1997, Oprah Winfrey deemed it one of the best places to meet your future spouse, and the event has led to about 105 confirmed marriages. Tip: Docents are available to conduct guided tours of Old St. Pat's between 8 a.m. and 11 a.m., Monday through Friday.

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