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Detroit, Michigan: Mother of Divine Mercy Parish: St. Josaphat Church & Sweetest Heart of Mary Church

About Mother of Divine Mercy Parish in Detroit:

As is the case in many older U.S. cities, the overall population decline in Detroit  (1950 census showed over 1.8 million people, and as of the 2010 census, the city had just over 700,000 residents, adding up to a total loss of 61% of the population) has resulted in the needed consolidation of some churches and that is the case with two magnificent churches : Saint Josaphat and Sweetest Heart of Mary.  Masses alternate between the two churches, which now make up one parish.

About Saint Josaphat Church:

The central focus of St. Josaphat Church is the High Altar Holy Tabernacle. Behind this Tabernacle are three shields that remind of the occupied and partitioned Polish Commonwealth. Pope Pius IX ordered special prayer for those in this persecuted Catholic alliance. After the failed 1863 Uprising, millions of Poles fled to avoid death marches to Siberia. At the same time, Pope Pius IX began the Canonization process for St. Josaphat which completed in 1867. Archbishop St. Josaphat had been martyred in 1623 for uniting Christians of these lands under The Holy See.

By 1872, so many Poles had arrived in Detroit that St. Albertus parish was founded for their worship needs.

Inspired by the 1899 encyclical of Pope Leo XIII Annum Sacrum (on Consecration to the Sacred Heart), a Sacred Heart rose window was placed in the east transept. The east sanctuary side altar was that of the Sacred Heart of Jesus during the 20th century; now it is the St. Joseph altar.

The largest sacramental steeple bell is named St. Leo. The medium and small steeple bells are named St. Peter and St. Paul, respectively. During the Consecration and Transubstantiation, you will hear SS. Peter and Paul ring out to the neighborhood.


The two murals in the front of the church are called the Miracle on the Vistula and Prayer Pilgrimage to Częstochowa. During World War I, St. Josaphat Church (called a garrison church and Twierdza Wiary i Polskości “Citadel of Faith and of Polish Patriotism”) was the final USA stop for Polish Americans before crossing the Detroit River to Canada and joining Haller’s Blue Army. Many volunteers were St. Josaphat parishioners. “On October 14, 1917, a special mass was celebrated in our church for 147 volunteers. These men left the USA to serve in the Polish Army, fighting their way through France to Poland.” (vestibule plaque).

St. Josaphat’s mural of Cud and Wisla (Miracle on the Vistula) includes Polonians in blue uniforms and commemorates the Blessed Virgin Mary’s apparition and resulting victory in the Battle of  Warsaw on August 15, 1920, the feast of the Assumption of Mary. Pope St. John Paul II was born just three months before the Miracle on the Vistula. Ten days before the Miracle, Pope Benedict XV asked all bishops of the Catholic world to pray for ‘God’s mercy for unfortunate Poland.’ The Pope stressed that the whole of Europe was endangered.

On August 15, 1920, unlike most dignitaries the Papal Nuncio, Cardinal Ratti, did not flee and said that Warsaw was as good a place as any to die a martyr for the Church. Cardinal Ratti was spared martyrdom, and went on to become Pope Pius XI; as Pope he promulgated the encyclical Ecclesiam Dei (On St. Josaphat) on November 12, 1923.

In 2004, St. Josaphat began to celebrate a regularly-scheduled Tridentine (Extraordinary Form) Mass, at that time the only one in the Archdiocese of Detroit.

In 2013, St. Josaphat became part of the newly established Mother of Divine Mercy Parish.

Finding Saint Josephat Church:

Address:  715 E Canfield St, Detroit, MI 48201

Tel: +1 (313) 831-6659 or (313) 831-3352

email:  motherofdivinemercy2@gmail.com


About Sweetest Heart of Mary Church:

The Polish icon which resides in Sweetest Heart of Mary Church, is called Mother of Mercy or Ostra Brama (Gate of Dawn). The icon was likely painted in Vilnius, Lithuania around 1630. The icon was placed over the Gate of Dawn in Vilnius, one of nine gates that existed at the time. Around 1671, the icon was covered with silver and gold. In 1927 when the Chapel of Our Lady of Ostra Brama was renovated, by a special command of Pope Pius XI the image was given the title Mater Misericordiae (Mother of Mercy), and it was adorned with new crowns which were exact copies of the old crowns.

Finding Sweetest Heart of Mary Church:

Address:  4440 Russell Street, Detroit MI 48207

Tel:  +1 (313) 831-6659

email:   motherofdivinemercy2@gmail.com

Click here for the official website of Sweetest Heart of Mary Church

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