Saturday, October 04, 2008

Photos of Saint Francis of Assisi Church, in Portage des Sioux, Missouri

HERE ARE PHOTOS of Saint Francis of Assisi Church, located in the rural eastern Saint Charles County town of Portage des Sioux. It is located 29 road miles north-by-northwest of downtown Saint Louis, Missouri. Photos taken after Mass here on the Feast of Saint Francis of Assisi, October 4th, 2008.

Saint Francis of Assisi Roman Catholic Church, in Portage des Sioux, Missouri, USA - exterior

This parish, and the town of Portage des Sioux, were founded in 1799.  Spanish Lieutenant Governor Zenon Trudeau and François Saucier founded this trading and military post on the Mississippi River after the American government set up a post twelve miles downstream in the Northwest Territory, gained in 1783.  But only a few years later, this land became part of the United States via the Louisiana Purchase.

A band of Sioux, fleeing their enemies, used this area as a portage between the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers.  Their pursuers, not knowing of this shortcut, instead canoed down to the confluence of the rivers, thereby losing their quarry.

Saint Francis of Assisi Roman Catholic Church, in Portage des Sioux, Missouri, USA - nave

This present church building was constructed in the Gothic style in 1879. By that time, the population was predominantly ethnic German. According to the 2008 ecclesiastical census, this parish has approximately 135 Catholics.

Saint Francis of Assisi Roman Catholic Church, in Portage des Sioux, Missouri, USA - sanctuary

Saint Francis of Assisi Roman Catholic Church, in Portage des Sioux, Missouri, USA - stained glass window of Saint Francis of Assisi receiving the stigmata

This stained glass window depicts Saint Francis of Assisi receiving the stigmata, or wounds of Christ's Crucifixion, in his vision of a seraph.  Saint Francis (1181/1182 - 1226), Holy Father of the Franciscans, gave up worldly wealth to live a life of severe poverty and Christian humility. He was given the command in the crumbling chapel of Saint Damian, "Go, Francis, and repair my house, which as you see is falling into ruin."  Taking this literally, Francis raised the funds to repair this church, but the course of his life subsequently was to rebuild the Catholic Church as a whole.

Saint Francis of Assisi Roman Catholic Church, in Portage des Sioux, Missouri, USA - Marian garden

Blessed Virgin Mary in the garden outside of the church.
Pause and reflect, for the day of death is approaching. I beg you, therefore, with all possible respect, not to forget the Lord or turn away from His commandments by reason of the cares and preoccupations of this world, for all those who are oblivious of Him and turn away from His commands are cursed and will be totally forgotten by Him. And when the day of death does come, everything which they think they have will be taken from them. And the wiser and more powerful they may have been in this world, so much greater will be the punishments they will endure in hell.

— Saint Francis of Assisi, from the Letter to Rulers of the Peoples.
Shrine of Our Lady of the Rivers, in Portage des Sioux, Missouri, USA

Also in Portage des Sioux is this shrine to the Blessed Virgin Mary under her title Our Lady of Rivers, completed in 1957 in thanksgiving for the town being spared from a flood. Located on the Mississippi River above its confluence with the Missouri River, the town is in the flood plain of both rivers.  The annual Blessing of the Fleet takes place here, in this region popular with pleasure boaters.


  1. Dear Mr. Mark Scott Abeln,
    I put another blog online: today quickly. I put on the other day.
    Have you seen Logan University? They have 'specimens', real people, in their anatomy classes - not animals. St. Francis of Assisi's prayer addresses 'Sister Death'.
    Theresa Marie Bextermiller, R.A., M.F.A., married name Metzger

  2. Lovely little building -- the interior is serene and just plain gorgeous.

    But it does seem to torture the concept of Franciscan simplicity a trifle.

    The monument, on the other hand, just leaves me cold.

    No matter. Your photos are great, as usual.

  3. I have attended Mass here on many occasions. Fortunately much of the church interior has been left unmolested. Again,it is one of so many beautiful little parish churches found in the area. It is a pleasant drive to get to from any direction and is not far from St. Louis. The town of Portage Des Sious is small so it needs all the support it can get. One other feature of note is the gorgeous stained glass. No doubt this is the distinctive work of the master artists of the Emil Frei Co. of St. Louis and they are in the 'Munich style'.