Central Texas: The Painted Churches of Texas
About the Painted Churches of Texas:
Immigrants, mostly German, Austrian and Czech, came to Texas in the late 1800’s through the early 1900’s, not through Ellis Island as we might suppose, rather, they arrived in Galveston, which began to be called the “Ellis Island of the West” due the large number of immigrants arriving in the port. From there many traveled north in Texas and established ethnic communities, many of which were predominantly Catholic.
Here in central Texas you will find a collection of churches reminiscent of the European countries from which their builders came. From the outside they look like typical small-town churches, but once inside you will see the frescoes and paintings by the immigrants that built them.
Most these churches are a short distance apart in the general area of the town of Schulenburg, while a couple others are in the “Hill Country” near Austin.
The churches are active parishes, which means if you time it right you can probably attend Mass. We suggest you call ahead to be sure.
The town of Schulenberg suggests the following on their “painted churches tour” itinerary:
Ammannsville: Saint John the Baptist Church (Czech) known as the “Pink Church” is famous for the stained glass windows illustrating the Czech history in the area.
Dubina: Saints Cyril and Methodius Church (Czech) founded in 1856 by a group of families of Northeastern Moravia (now the Czech Republic), this church boast excellent murals that had been painted over some time in the past and then discovered by a parishoner.
Panna Maria: Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the oldest permanent Polish settlement in the U.S. Families from Silesia, Poland were invited by Fr. Leopold Moczygemba to settle this historic area in 1854 PannaMaria. It took them two months to make the journey from Galveston to begin there settlement here. Panna Maria, in Polish, means Virgin Mary. There is also an historical society here (shown below), that will help guide you through this and other churches in the area.
Schulenburg: Saint Mary’s Catholic Church High Hill (German), called the “Queen of the Painted Churches” this church receives many visitors each year admiring the beautiful stained glass windows and interior artwork. It also holds a picnic on Labor Day each year, starting off with Mass, then great food and entertainment. All are welcome.
Flatonia: St. Mary’s Church Praha (Czech). this church boasts the work of Swiss-born artist Gottfried Flury from Moulton, Texas, who mixed his own custom paints and created a ceiling that is beautiful and unique. Other artists include Rev. Louis Netardus and Gene Mikulik.
There are a couple of other painted churches not too far away in what is known as the Texas Hill Country:
Shiner: Saints Cyril and Methodius Church (Czech). The structure is one of the largest of the painted churches and has six beautiful stained glass windows made in Munich, as well as a huge mural of Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane over the altar.
Plantersville: St. Mary’s Catholic Church