Thursday, March 23, 2006

Photos of Our Lady of Czestochowa (Saint Mary) Church, in Madison, Illinois

Here are photos of Our Lady of Czestochowa (Saint Mary) Catholic Church,in Madison, Illinois. This is one of two churches of the combined parish of Saint Mary and Saint Mark. It is about 6-1/2 highway miles northeast of downtown Saint Louis.

The church is in the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois. For more information, see the Catholic-Hierarchy website.

This was originally a Polish Franciscan parish, and reflects the heavy Eastern European immigration into this area about a century ago. Two Eastern Christian churches—one Catholic, one Orthodox—are only a few blocks from this church.

Round churches are very rare; other examples in the area include Little Flower in Richmond Heights, Missouri, and Saint Anselm in Creve Coeur, Missouri.

Some round churches are patterned around the design of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. In the Renaissance, many Marian churches were designed in the round, for the circle has pure geometry and is a symbol of femininity. This probably comes from the round Pantheon in Rome, once a pagan temple to all of the Roman gods, which has been 'baptized' as the Church of Saint Mary of the Martyrs. Some round churches built since the 1960s have the altar in the center, which comes from the theological emphasis of the immanence of God. Sometimes this can lead to pantheism.

Crucifix at the top of the dome. The anchor-cross is one of the most ancient symbols of Christianity, dating from the first century.

The parish office.

"THE GATE OF HEAVEN", one of the titles of the Blessed Virgin Mary

The altar is to the side of the church.

The interior of the dome, showing the skylight. Our climate and modern sensitive attitudes tend to work against the idea of having an oculus open to the sky.

This is a bad photo. Although it's hard to see, the choir was practicing on the other side of the church.

Eucharistic adoration was going on at the time of this photo, worshipers were off to the side, out of the frame of this photo. Later they prayed the Rosary.

I was able to meet with a number of people of this church. Sister Mary Clare, O.P., told me of the structure of the parish, the correct Polish pronunciation of "Czestochowa", and how the round design of this church differs from Little Flower. Some ladies of the choir told me the history of the area, and locations of nearby churches.

Statue of a Franciscan.

Monstrance with the Blessed Sacrament.

Side aisle, which goes entirely around the circumference of the church. Actually, the color of the tile is the same throughout the church, although it looks quite different in this photo. Whereas the eye will correct for differences in the color of lighting, the camera has difficulty.

The bronze door says "OLEA SANCTA", or Holy Oils.


The baptistery, located left of the main entrance.

Baptismal font.

Chapels of Mary, Jesus, and Joseph, located off of the side-aisle of the church. The chapels and baptistery form a Saint Andrew's cross, overlaying the circular plan of the church.

Sign with essential information.

Madison, Illinois, is home to United States Steel. Madison owes its existence to this steel mill, but automation and lower tariffs has greatly reduced employment here. Due to prevailing winds from the west, smokestack industries in the Saint louis area are placed in the Metro-East area. This vast steel mill is located on the northern edge of town, and sits on the edge of Horseshoe Lake, in the American Bottom floodplain of the Mississippi River. A levee protects this region from the river, but it was very nearly overtopped during the Great Flood of 1993.

Only a few blocks from here is Saint Mary's Greek Catholic Church.


1621 10th Street
Madison, IL 62060


  1. Keep up your good work. Madision, Illinois can use the attention.

  2. The Franciscan Statue is St. Francis of Assisi. The book he is holding is the Rule of the Franciscans and the crucifix symbolizes the stigmata he received later in his life.

  3. This parish has roots in Polish immigration to the area. Interestingly not far from this church was another church named Sacred Heart and it was affiliated with the Polish National Catholic church. Sadly this church of the Sacred Heart was destroyed in a fire a few years ago.