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Chicago: St John Cantius Church

History of St. John Cantius Church in Chicago:

Founded by Polish immigrants at the end of the nineteenth century, Saint John Cantius Church was designed by architect Adolphus Druiding.  Several lots were purchased at Fry and Carpenter Streets for the sum of $75,000 and work commenced in the spring of 1893. The basement was completed that year and the first Mass was held there on Christmas Eve of that year.

Progress on the rest of the building was slowed when the “panic of 1893” caused a nationwide depression that lasted until 1898. This was particularly painful in Chicago, with the failure of the National Bank of Illinois, and it became financially impossible to complete the superstructure.

Raising money became difficult, and so the parish prayed a novena to St. Joseph to implore his intercession in completing the church. Soon after the novena, on March 28, 1898, a sum of $3,000 arrived and brought construction to a successful close.

The facade of the Church has the emblem of Polish-Lithuanian-Ruthenian Commonwealth (Polish Eagle, Lithuanian Vytis and Ruthenian St. Michael).  Archbishop Patrick Feehan presided at the Blessing and Dedication ceremonies on December 11, that same year. The parish flourished and reached its peak in 1918 with about 23,000 parishioners and 2,500 children in the school.

One of the chapels has a scaled replica of the Veit Stoss altarpiece from Krakow. It is an amazing replica of one of the great artworks of Poland…and the world.

The parish was disrupted again in the 1920s, first by the construction of Ogden Avenue and then by The Great Depression, beginning with the stock market crash of 1929, which  brought a further decrease in registered parishioners. By 1943, only about 5,000 parishioners and 376 school children remained.

In the late 1950s and early 1960s, the construction of the Kennedy Expressway also dealt another blow to the parish. Most of the neighborhood’s residents left what was rapidly developing into a ghetto.

 The Church of Saint John Cantius in Chicago today:

In spite of the many negative factors working against the parish’s future, a good number of the residents who moved continued to attend Mass and support the parish. These, along with the competent leadership of various pastors, made it possible for the parish to continue.


The Church is famous for its music, with many free concerts of classical music played by renowned artists. And of course the Latin mass music each Sunday at noon during Tridentine High Mass in Latin.

Finding St. John Cantius Church in Chicago:

There is parking around and it is within walking distance from the Blue Line (train). There is also a bus stop next to the church.

Address: 825 N. Carpenter St, Chicago, IL 60642

Tel: +1 (312) 243-7373

email: office@cantius.org

Click here for the official website of Saint John Cantius Church in Chicago.

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