Friday, September 28, 2007

Photos of the Cathedral of Saint Raymond Nonnatus, in Joliet, Illinois

HERE ARE PHOTOS of the Cathedral of Saint Raymond Nonnatus, in Joliet, Illinois. This is the cathedral church of the Diocese of Joliet in Illinois. The church is located about 47 highway miles southwest of the Chicago Loop.

Click any image for a larger version.

From the History of the Diocese and Cathedral:
When the Holy See erected the Diocese of Joliet in 1948, the advancing and progressive city of Joliet joined those cities of the world designated as "Cathedral Towns." Once of the first objectives of Bishop Martin McNamara, the first Bishop of Joliet, was to provide the diocese with a permanent mother-church or cathedral. A cathedral takes its name from the fact that it houses not only the altar of sacrifice, but also the "Cathedra," or official seat, of the Bishop of the diocese.

The cathedral is the spiritual center of the Diocese of Joliet, Illinois. There are 535,000 Catholics living in a seven county area. The Cathedral was built in 1952-1954 with contributions from original diocesan members at a cost of $2.4-million. It was completely paid for when it opened. Today's replacement cost is estimated at $20-million.

In 1948, Bishop McNamara explained to the architects what he felt was needed for his cathedral. Some of his more important requirements were: elimination of any steps from the sidewalk to the entrances, numerous and ample exits; accurate acoustical correction and sound amplification; a devotional and spacious sanctuary so arranged that all may see and follow the liturgy; and an interior of dignity suffused with a devotional and religious atmosphere.

The plan of the church is that of the true Latin cross. Black granite from Pennsylvania serves as the exterior base course as well as the bulk of the entrance portico. Indiana limestone is the trim used to relieve the red brick exterior walls. The coat-of-arms of the Pope and the Bishop of the diocese in 1954 ornament and characterize the eastern facade of this church.

The decorative treatment of the interior, twenty-five varieties of imported marbles have been used to accentuate important features of the room, which at its highest point is seventy feet above the main floor.

The windows merit particular attention. Though ordinarily termed "stained glass windows," they have no stain on the glass but are translucent mosaics. They are made up of small pieces of imported antique glass, integrally colored, bedded in lead to produce the individual design, graded in color to develop highlights and shadows. Made in Chicago by native artisans, they are undoubtedly the finest examples of this craftsmanship to be found anywhere. The pictorial sequence, starting from the east window in the south transept, illustrates the twelve articles of the Apostle's Creed.

The campanile, or bell-tower separately constructed from the church, supports a chime of five cast bronze bells, the largest of which weighs two tons. These are so mounted that each can be rung by electrical control from the sacristy. By automatic clock, they will sound the Angelus daily. The tower rises 190 feet above street level.

Saint Raymond Nonnatus (ca. 1204-1240) was a Spanish nobleman, known in Spain as San Ramon. He ransomed Christian slaves of the Moor in Algeria; when his money ran out, he ransomed his last captive by giving himself up as a hostage. During his imprisonment, he converted Mohammedans to Christianity, and as punishment, his captors closed his lips with a padlock. Upon his release, he preached the Crusade, became Master-general of the Mercedarian Order and a Cardinal. His nickname non-natus means 'not born', for he was delivered by caesarian.

Joliet was founded in 1834 with the name Juliet, perhaps, like its neighboring village Romeoville, after the Shakespearian character. In 1845, it was renamed Joliet in honor of the Jesuit-trained French-Canadian fur-trader Louis Jolliet, (1645—1700), who explored this region with the Jesuit Father Jacques Marquette.

Joliet became a source of building stone for the Illinois and Michigan Canal, completed in 1848, and these quarries attracted immigrants from Ireland. This stone, called Lamont or Joliet Limestone (and inaccurately Athens or Joliet Marble), is bluish when first quarried, but ages to an attractive buttery yellow color. Perhaps the best known structure made of this stone is the 1869 Gothic-style old water tower in Chicago. By 1890, 3000 railroad box cars of stone per month were shipped out of Joliet.

After 1870, employment at the new Bessemer-process steel mills in Joliet attracted vast numbers of southeastern Europeans. The city remained an industrial center until the late 1970s; after a severe depression in the 1980s, the city returned to prominence in the 1990s as an exurban bedroom community of Chicago. Joliet is now the fastest-growing large city in the Midwest.

Joliet has a large population of Catholic and Orthodox Christians.


The church has been renovated with a versus populorum altar-table in the transept, a large baptismal/holy water font near the narthex, and the tabernacle removed to the former baptistery.

Bishop's crozier and cathedra. James Peter Sartain, Bishop of Little Rock since the year 2000, was named the fourth Bishop of Joliet in Illinois in 2006.

IXth Station of the Cross.

Arms of the Venerable Pope Pius XII (1876—1958).

Altar of the Blessed Virgin Mary. "Do whatever He tells you."

Holy oils: the Oil of Catechumens, Oil of the Sick, and Oil of Chrism. These are typically olive oil with balsam or other perfumes. Chrism comes from the Greek word χρῖσμα, (chrisma), meaning oil; these are consecrated by the Bishop on Holy Thursday. Being anointed with oil was a very ancient sign of kingship, and now of being a Christian; Christ means 'the anointed one'.

Saint Jean Baptiste Marie Vianney, the Curé of Ars (1786—1859) "All our religion is but a false religion, and all our virtues are mere illusions and we ourselves are only hypocrites in the sight of God, if we have not that universal charity for everyone - for the good, and for the bad, for the poor and for the rich, and for all those who do us harm as much as those who do us good. "

Saint Francis Xavier (1506—1552), founding Jesuit, Apostle to the Far East. "It is not the actual physical exertion that counts towards a man's progress, nor the nature of the task, but by the spirit of faith with which it is undertaken."

Infant Jesus of Prague.

The tabernacle. "Take, eat; this is my body".

Stations of the Cross, seen on the wall to the left, in the cloister.

Outbuildings of the Cathedral.

604 North Raynor Avenue
Joliet, Illinois 60435


  1. Did you check out any of the other Catholic Churches while you were up there? Downtown Joliet has about 4 or 5 Catholic Churches literally within 10 blocks of each other. It's pretty neat to see.

  2. I was told about a number of other photogenic churches in the area, but there are too few hours in the day!

  3. Thanks for putting together the photo display and the narrative. St Raymond's is the parish I grew up in and I appreciate being able to see it anytime I wish on your website.

    The only downside is noting the remodeling job which was unnecessary and detracts from St Ray's majesty!

    Thank you very much for this work!

  4. ......what happened to the inscription "altare priviculatum" above the cross behind the altar?

    1. The Altar no longer being under the Cross, the inscription Altare Privilegiatum is actually painted over to match the marble surroundsing it. Can only be noted if you look real close.

  5. Thank you for capturing these photos. I was in the first first grade class after the Cathedral was finished, which I believe was 1953. I attended through third grade when the district boundaries changed, and I became a St Anne's student. St Raymonds was always in my heart.