Thursday, March 09, 2006

Photos of Saint Peter's Church and Saint Charles Borromeo Church, Saint Charles, Missouri

Saint Charles, Missouri, a city with French and Spanish colonial roots and a great Catholic history, is located on the banks of the Missouri River about 22 highway miles northwest of downtown Saint Louis, Missouri. It has historic Catholic churches, as well as a shrine containing the tomb of Saint Rose Philippine Duchesne, pioneer educator to the Indians. Saint Charles County is booming with real estate and commercial development, and is quickly becoming largely suburban. Old Town Saint Charles is a gem on the riverbanks, with historical buildings dating from the late 18th and early 19th centuries.

Saint Peter's is the oldest existing Catholic church in Saint Charles. It is one block up from the historical and touristic Main Street, featuring craft shops and numerous restaurants. The church is on First Capital Drive; located on the corner of those streets is the first capitol building of the State of Missouri.

Archdiocesan web site.

Click for map.

The exterior of the church. Directly across the street is a hospital of the Sisters of Saint Mary, and its modern chapel is seen just beyond the church. Vastly more money and resources go into the charitable and educational works of the Church compared to its pastoral works in the churches. A Catholic church—even if it is gold-plated and diamond-encrusted—is far cheaper than a hospital or university, yet the latter would not exist if it weren't for the former. Beauty is the bait: it leads us to goodness and truth, which are greater than beauty, but naturally are not the first things that our intellect perceives.

A spire.

The nave. Because Eucharistic Adoration was going on at the time, I did not take many photos of the interior.

Station of the Cross. Jesus is stripped of his garments.

Attached to the main nave of the church is a new addition which includes a second chapel (also used as a cry room) and large narthex; this addition is of post-modern design. This is one of its stained glass windows, commemorating Saints Frances Xavier Cabrini and Vincent de Paul, both of whom have extensive local veneration.

Saint Charles Borromeo Church is about seven blocks north of Saint Peter's; Borromeo is the namesake and patron of Saint Charles City and County. The church was closed at the time, so I don't have any photos. The interior has been modified with the high altar removed and the Presider's chair placed in the center of the nave. The tabernacle of the Blessed Sacrament is on one of the side-altars. One of the Archdiocese's Hispanic ministries is at this church.

Archdiocesan web site.
Parish web site.

Click for map.

The facade.

The main door.

Detail next to the door.


The cornerstone:
A.D. 1916

BUILT 1869-72
REBUILT 1915-16

Saint Charles owes its founding and existence to the Missouri River, being orginally the home of French furtrappers and traders with the Indians. These voyageurs started here and explored the continent before their friends Lewis and Clark went on their expedition; rivers that are tributary to the Missouri have French names because of these Saint Charles explorers. Here we are about 27 miles upstream from the Missouri's confluence with the Mississippi; due to various factors, it was easier to unload goods at Saint Louis and cart them overland to the river at Saint Charles. At the time of the photo, the river was close to the near-record low level: Click here for more information. A local man told me that near here is a steamboat wreck, accessible during low water on the opposite side of the river. The photo was taken from Frontier Park, which often floods during high water. The park is the site of the annual Frontier Days festival, which features re-enacters in colonial and indian attire; replicas of Lewis and Clark's boats are stored here in a small museum. Main Street is on the first terrace above the river, less exposed to flooding, while the two churches are safely sited away from floodwaters on higher terraces.

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