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Dioecesis Campifontis in Illinois is one of five dioceses under the Archdiocese of Chicago, and has approximately 161 thousand Catholics out of a total population of 1.1 million. The diocese is served by 178 priests in 156 parishes over an area of 15 thousand square miles.
Historical Indian and European settlement in this part of the world tended to be along the major rivers, for ease of transportation. Although Springfield is on the Sangamon River (Pottawatomie Sain-guee-mon "where there is plenty to eat"), that river was not good for navigation, and the first permanent structure in what is now Springfield was constructed in the rather late year of 1821.
Springfield is on a flat plateau, with typical topographic relief of only about 20 feet, and was once surrounded by a vast tallgrass prairie which covered over half of Illinois and extended all the way into Canada. The paucity of trees, extreme weather, swarming insects, and periodic prairie fires made this region frightening for Europeans, and the difficulty in plowing the soil made living here impractical.
John Deere of Illinois invented the steel plow in 1837 which made farming the prairie possible: within a short time, the Illinois interior was settled by farmers. That same year, Springfield became the state capital, and moving there was the man who would become its most famous resident – Abraham Lincoln (1809–1865), sixteenth President of the United States.
Centuries-old immigration patterns still hold, and the Catholic population of Illinois still tends to be located near the Mississippi and Illinois Rivers, and on Lake Michigan, sites of early European settlements and missionary work; Catholics are still rare on the prairie.
By 1923, widespread paved roads and the rails made river passenger transportation almost obsolete, and the episcopal See of this diocese moved from Alton, Illinois – located on the Mississippi River near Saint Louis – to the more central location of Springfield.
The narthex or vestibule.
CATHEDRAL OF THE IMMACULATE CONCEPTION
DIOCESE OF SPRINGFIELD IN ILLINOIS
THIS CATHEDRAL WAS DEDICATED IN OCTOBER 1928 A.D. BY
THE RT. REV. JAMES A. GRIFFIN , D.D. BISHOP OF THE DIOCESE
TO COMMEMORATE THE DIAMOND JUBILEE OF THE DIOCESE. IT WAS ORIGINALLY
ESTABLISHED AS THE DIOCESE OF QUINCY, JULY 29, 1853
THE SEE WAS TRANSFERRED TO ALTON, JANUARY 5, 1857
AND TO SPRINGFIELD, OCTOBER 26, 1923
THE FORMER BISHOPS WERE
HENRY DAMIAN JUNCKER, D.D. CONSECRATED APRIL 28. 1857
DIED OCTOBER 2, 1868
PETER JOSEPH BALTES, D.D. CONSECRATED JANUARY 23, 1870
DIED FEBRUARY 15, 1886
JAMES RYAN, D.D. CONSECRATED MAY 1, 1888
DIED JULY 2, 1923
From the history of the church:
THE CATHEDRAL GROUP which included the Church joined on the north by the Rectory and on the south by the Convent and School, was dedicated in 1928 by the Most Reverend James A. Griffin, D.D., first Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Springfield in Illinois, formerly the Diocese of Alton, Illinois. The style is Greek Revival, chosen for its American traditions and executed in Mankato stone. Joseph W. McCarthy was the architect.
ONE APPROACHES the Cathedral from a broad plaza flanked by two ornamental flag poles each fifty feet high. The portico is formed by four Doric columns supporting a strong pediment, in the face of which is carved the coat of arms of His Excellency, Bishop Griffin. This sculpture is the work of Leon Hermant of Chicago.
THE VESTIBULE is lined with Vert Corail Claire marble. At the left is the Baptistery lined with Botticino marble and on the right is a lavatory for the convenience of the congregation.
THE CHURCH PROPER is basilican, the clerestory carried on rows of Siena columns in the Greek ionic style. Above the Rose Tavernelle wainscot are set the mosaic Stations of the Cross executed of minute pieces and imported from Venice.
MACVLA NON EST IN TE
"there is not a spot in thee" (Canticle of Canticles 4:7)
Macula = spot or sin,
Immaculate = spotless or sinless.
The mosaic behind the altar is taken from a painting of La Inmaculada by Bartolomé Esteban Murillo (1617–1682).
The old high altar, with tabernacle. A worthy altar for celebrating the Traditional Latin Mass.
The background of the altar is made of "black and gold" marble from Porto Venere, Italy, and the steps leading up to the altar are made of Belgian black marble. The tabernacle and Doric columns holding up the mensa are made of Rose Breche marble.
The altars, statues, and pulpit were made by the Daprato Statuary Company of Italy, Chicago, and New York.
Crucifix located next to the altar.
Detail above the main altar.
The mythological griffin, with the head, wings, and talons of an eagle and the body of a lion, is lord of both the heavens and the earth, hence is a symbol of the divinity and humanity of Christ.
The baptismal font with a statue of Saint James the Greater to the right.
Detail of the pulpit.
LOQVERE QVAE DECENT SANAM DOCTRINAM
"Preach what is befitting sound doctrine" (Titus 2:1)
Altar of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, in front is the bishop's cathedra, or episcopal throne.
Holy oils are placed upon the altar of Saint Joseph with the Infant Jesus.
Statue of Saint James the Greater, the Apostle (died A.D. 44).
Statue of Saint Aloysius Gonzaga (1568–1591). "There is no more evident sign that anyone is a saint and of the number of the elect, than to see him leading a good life and at the same time a prey to desolation, suffering, and trials."
Statue of Saint Paul the Apostle (ca. A.D. 3–ca. 65)
Window of the Little Flower.
Below the previous window is the shrine to Saint Thérèse de Lisieux (1873–1897). "If Our Lord had not lavished so much love and sunshine on His Little Flower, she never could have become acclimatised to this earth. Still too weak to bear the storm, she needed warmth, refreshing dew, and soft breezes, and these gifts were never wanting to her, even in the chilling seasons of trials."
Shrine to Saint Patrick (ca. 387–ca. 461) "I came to the Irish people to preach the Gospel and endure the taunts of unbelievers, putting up with reproaches about my earthly pilgrimage, suffering many persecutions, even bondage, and losing my birthright of freedom for the benefit of others."
First station of the cross: Jesus is condemned to death.
The stations in this cathedral are mosaic.
The window on the left shows Archbishop Bonzano, Apostolic Delegate to the U.S., Pope Pius XI, and Cardinal Mundelein, in honor of the 1926 Eucharistic Conference in Chicago. The window on the right shows President Abraham Lincoln commissioning Archbishop Hughes of New York to go to visit Napoleon III of France, to convince him not to recognize the Confederacy.
According to the church history:
The windows of the Cathedral were made by a process originated by Thomas O'Shaughnessy of the O'Shaughnessy-Kugal Studios, Chicago. They are mosaics of finely cut translucent glass, a radical departure from the European stain glass. The windows are built not of lead which is weak but of enduring copper which will not warp or sag. A unique feature of these windows is that at night they appear as mosaic panels showing the picture in full color and detail.
The left window shows John Sobieski (1629–1696) defeating the Turk at Vienna. The right window shows the martyrdom of Saint Ignatius of Antioch at the Coliseum in about A.D. 107.
524 East Lawrence Avenue
Springfield, Illinois 62703