Cloisters of Saint John Lateran, Rome. Source:

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Saint John Cantius Church, Chicago. Restoring The Sacred.

Zephyrinus originally published this Article in October 2013. Because of the beauty of Saint John Cantius Church, Chicago, and the Sanctity and Profundity of the Liturgy within,
it is now re-published.

Text and Illustrations from Wikipedia - the free encyclopaedia,
unless otherwise stated.

File:Kraków Kościół Świętej Anny 011.jpg

Polski: Kościół Świętej Anny w Krakowie.
English: Tomb of Saint John Cantius, Church of Saint Anne, Kraków, Poland.
Deutsch: Krakau St. Annen Kirche.
Photo: 14 November 2009.
Source: Own work.
Author: Ludwig Schneider / Wikimedia, Ludwig Schneider.
(Wikimedia Commons)

St. John Cantius Church, Chicago | Catholic Faith.
Photo Credit:

The Limestone facade of Saint John Cantius Church,
Chicago, United States of America.
Photo: 2 September 2013.
Source: Own work.
Author: Victorgrigas.
(Wikimedia Commons)

Why not visit this beautiful Church's Web-Site,
and store, at

Zephyrinus is grateful to MATTHAEUS (see his Blog SUB UMBRA ALARUM SUARUM) for his excellent Post on Saint John Cantius.

St. John Cantius Parish (Polish: Parafia Świętego Jana Kantego) is a historic Church of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago, known for its opulence and grand scale as well its Solemn Liturgies and rich programme of Sacred Art and Music.

Along with such monumental Religious edifices as St. Mary of the Angels, St. Hedwig's or St. Wenceslaus, it is one of the many Polish Churches that dominate over the Kennedy Expressway.

Solemn High Mass, 
St John Cantius Church, Chicago, 
United States of America.

The unique Baroque Interior has remained intact for more than a century and is reminiscent of the sumptuous art and architecture of 18th-Century Krakow, Poland. Of all the “Polish Cathedral”-style Churches in Chicago, St. John Cantius stands closest to Downtown. The imposing 130 ft. Tower is readily seen from the nearby Kennedy Expressway. St. John's is particularly well known for its programme of Solemn Liturgies and Devotions, Treasures of Sacred Art and Rich Liturgical Music.

In 2013, St. John Cantius completed an ambitious Restoration, returning the lavish Interior to its original splendour.

File:St John Cantius - by Payton Chung.jpg

St. John Cantius Church, near Chicago/Ogden/Milwaukee (and the Gonnella bakery). 
A Church whose Parish was largely razed by highway construction. 
At Polonia's peak, before World War I, as many as 23,000 people would attend 
Sunday Mass, here, and doubtless similar numbers at five similarly-huge Churches 
within a mile. Now the Parish survives by offering Mass 
to Suburban-ites in Latin or Gregorian Chant.
Photo: 22 April 2005.
Source: Flickr.
Reviewer: Fruggo.
(Wikimedia Commons)

Designed by Adolphus Druiding, begun in 1893, and completed in 1898, St. John Cantius Church took five years to build.

Saint John Cantius Church was founded in 1893 by the Congregation of the Resurrection to relieve overcrowding at St. Stanislaus Kostka, the city's first Polish Parish. The Parish retained its Polish character for years, but the building of the Kennedy Expressway, which cut through the heart of Chicago's Polonia, began a period of decline for the Parish as many longtime residents were forced to relocate.

Holy Mass in the impressive Church of St John Cantius, 
Chicago, United States of America.

The Parish was slated for closure as Chicago's inner city neighbourhoods declined further through the 1960s and 1970s. A revival of the Parish began in the Late-1980s, when the Parish became the focus of a renaissance of Traditional Catholic Rituals and Devotions that had fallen out of favour after the Second Vatican Council, such as the Tridentine Mass in Latin, as well as Vespers and Benediction, the Corpus Christi Procession, the Stations of the Cross, Tenebrae Services, and the St. Joseph Novena and St. Anne Novena. Today, the Parish has a rich programme of Sacred Music, supported by seven Parish Choirs. The Parish is presently administered by the Canons Regular of Saint John Cantius, a Religious Community founded at the Parish in 1998.

St. John Cantius Church has witnessed a number of famous visitors within its walls. In March 1989, the Parish hosted a visit by Tadeusz Mazowiecki, Prime Minister of the newly-Democratic Poland, while, in 1998, Józef Glemp, the Cardinal Primate of Poland, came to celebrate a Mass of Thanksgiving and Bless the Church's new copper Cupola.

File:Church of St. Anne, grave of St John Cantius , 13 sw. Anny street, Old Town, Krakow, Poland.jpg

English: Church of St. Anne, grave of St John Cantius , 
13 sw. Anny street, Old Town, Krakow, Poland.
Polski: Kościół św. Anny, grób św. Jana z Kęt , 
ul. św. Anny 13, Stare Miasto, Kraków.
Photo: 9 August 2012.
Source: Own work.
Author: Zygmunt Put Zetpe0202.
(Wikimedia Commons)

Although the Parish's school has closed, the building now houses the Chicago Academy for the Arts, often called the "Fame" school and compared with New York City's High School of Performing Arts.

St. John Cantius Church's majestic elegance has always drawn the attention of those who happened to pass by, making it an area landmark since its building over a hundred years ago. Authors and filmmakers have seen it as natural to use the Church, both as a point marking familiarity as well as from the purely aesthetic pleasure of its beauty. Some of the more notable examples are:

St. John Cantius serves as the backdrop for Steffi Rostenkowski's great realisation in Nelson Algren's work "Never Come Morning", where, night after night, she heard the iron rocking of the Bells of Saint John Cantius. Each night, they came nearer, till the roar of The Loop was only a troubled whimper beneath the rocking of the Bells. "Everyone lives in the same big room", she would tell herself, as they rocked. "But nobody's speakin' to anyone else, an' nobody got a key".


Another Church dedicated to Saint John Cantius.
This Church, is at Tremont, Cleveland, 
Ohio, United States of America.
Photo: 12 January 2008.
Source: Flickr.
Author: Eddie~S.
(Wikimedia Commons)

St. John Cantius has also been featured in two films that were both shot in the Summer and Fall of 1990. The first was a made-for-television movie, entitled "Johnny Ryan". The second was a major Hollywood film, entitled "Only the Lonely", directed by John Hughes and starring Maureen O'Hara and John Candy.

The Church building's design is by Adolphus Druiding. Work began on this grandiose structure in the Spring of 1893 and was completed by 1898. The building has a façade of rusticated stone, in the High Renaissance style, which dictated the use of classical elements, such as Columns, Capitals and Arches. At the very top, is a monumental Pediment, decorated with the Coat-of-Arms of Poland's failed January Uprising, under which is found the inscription "Boże Zbaw Polskę" ("God Save Poland" in Polish).

Holy Mass at St. John Cantius, 
Chicago, United States of America.

Just below this, on the Entablature, is the Latin inscription "Ad Maiorem Dei Gloriam", a text which proclaims that this building is for "the Greater Glory of God", a Jesuit motto, popular in many Churches built around the start of the 20th-Century. Three Romanesque Portals, set in receding Arches, lead into the Interior. Like St. Michael's, the entrance is flanked by two asymmetrical Towers, topped with copper Cupolas, styled after St. Mary's Basilica in Kraków, Poland. The whole structure is 230 feet (70 m) long and 107 feet (33 m) wide and can easily accommodate 2,000 people.

The Interior reflects the High Renaissance style of the Exterior. Eight stone Columns, with Corinthian Capitals, support the Vault. The present decoration is the result of several Interior decorations within the first forty years of completion. The Church's High Altar, as well as its matching two Side Altars, reputedly originate from the 1893 Columbian Exposition. In 1903, the Interior was painted for the first time, and it was at this time that all the plaster and wood ornaments were added, and the Church received the character it has today. The Stained Glass windows were made by Gawin Co. of Milwaukee, while the Interior murals were painted by Lesiewicz, around 1920. In addition to religious scenes, such as the Resurrection under the High Altar, the artist decorated the side walls with paintings of Polish Patron Saints.

St. John Cantius Church,
Chicago, United States of America.

A new inlaid hardwood floor was installed in St. John Cantius Church in 1997, in a design by Jed Gibbons . Sixteen varieties of wood from around the world were used for the inlaid medallions. The floor is not only a beautiful contemporary work of Sacred Art, but it is also designed as a teaching tool. The medallions, inlaid into the main Aisle, tell the story of Salvation: Star of David - Jesus was born as a Jew; Three Crowns - with the arrival of the Three Kings, Jesus was made manifest to the world; Instruments of the Passion - Christ's suffering for our Salvation; Banner - the Resurrection; Star - Christ is the Light of the World. This floor, which is reputedly the only one of its kind in the United States, has already won three national awards.

In 2003, work was completed on a replica of the Veit Stoss Altar. Carved by artist Michał Batkiewicz over an eight-year period, this imposing one-third scale copy is the largest and most detailed work of its kind, and was commissioned as a tribute to the Galician immigrants who founded the parish in 1893.

A permanent exhibit of Sacred Art, located in the Church's North Tower, is open on Sundays, as well as upon special request. The collection's centerpiece is an elaborate Neapolitan "praesepio" (Italian creche) from Rome. Among St. John Cantius's many other treasures, are: A 19th-Century copy of the icon of Our Lady of Częstochowa, adorned with jewelled crowns, personally Blessed by Blessed Pope John Paul II; a reproduction of the famous miraculous Crucifix from Limpus, Portugal; a 19th-Century Pietà from Bavaria, Germany; a hand-written Altar Missal; as well as several hundred authenticated Relics of Saints.

Marian Feast Day at St. John Cantius, Chicago, United States of America.
Festival Mariano en San Juan Cantius (Chicago) | Una Voce Cordoba.

The following Text is from The Saint Andrew Daily Missal.

20 October.
Feast Day of Saint John Cantius.


White Vestments.

Born at Kenty, a market town in the Diocese of Cracow, Poland, Saint John was raised up by Providence to keep alight the torch of Faith and the flame of Christian Charity during the 15th-Century in Poland.

He obtained all the academic degrees at the University of Cracow, where he taught for several years. Ordained a Priest, he every day offered the Holy Sacrifice to appease Heavenly Justice, for he was deeply afflicted by the offences of men against God.

He shone especially by his exquisite Charity, which is shown in the Introit, the Collects, the Epistle, the Gradual, the Offertory and the Communion of his Mass. He took from his own food to help those who were in need and even gave them his clothes and shoes (Epistle); and he would let his cloak fall to the ground so as not to be seen returning home bare-foot.

While on a pilgrimage to Rome, he was robbed by brigands, and, when he declared that he had no other possessions, they allowed him to pursue his journey. The Saint, who had sewn some pieces of money in his cloak, suddenly remembered this, and calling the thieves he offered them the sum. But they, touched by his goodness and candour, gave him back all that they had taken.

Saint John Cantius died on Christmas Eve, 1473. He is especially invoked in cases of consumption. ["Owing to your Prayers, we see epidemics disappear, stubborn diseases averted, and the blessing of health restored. Those whom consumption, fever and ulcers condemn to a painful end are, by you, delivered from the embraces of death." (Hymn of Second Vespers)]

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