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Milwaukee, Wisconsin: Basilica of Saint Josaphat


The History of the Basilica of St. Josaphat:

The city of Milwaukee became a major destination for thousands of Polish immigrants following the Civil War. Fleeing religious repression, they numbered about 60,000 in Milwaukee by 1900. Since the Poles were almost uniformly Catholic, many parishes sprung up to accommodate their needs.

Father Wilhelm Grutza, the pastor, had hired a German-born architect named Erhard Brielmaier to design a church patterned after St. Peter’s in Rome. The church would have the same cross-shaped floor plan and huge central dome that distinguishes St. Peter’s.

When the plans were nearly complete, Fr. Grutza learned that the Chicago Post Office and Custom House needed to be razed and he was able to purchase it for $20,000. The building was dismantled and the salvaged materials were loaded up on 500 railroad flatcars and brought up to Milwaukee. They were stockpiled on a vacant lot across the street.


About the Basilica:

With its huge dome (it was once the largest in the U.S. after the Capitol in Washington, D.C.), the Basilica is easily identified. Beautiful stained glass windows, imported from Germany, decorate the interior.

There is a visitor center located in the Pope John Paul II Pavilion on the west side of the Basilica, the (open Monday through Saturday, 9:00 am to 4:00 pm). Walking tour brochures are available for your convenience. There is also a free exhibit of images and information detailing the story of the Basilica on the lower level of the Pavilion.

Formal tour presentations of the Basilica are regularly held after the 10:00 am Mass on Sundays. Simply gather in the front few pews immediately following the musical postlude (approximately 11:00 am). To schedule group tours on other days of the week, please call (414) 902-3523 or click here.


Traveling to the Basilica of Saint Josaphat:

Address: South 6th St. & West Lincoln Ave., Milwaukee, Wisconsin

GPS coordinates: 43° 0′ 10.2312” N, 87° 55′ 7.5684” W

Tel & email: see Basilica website

Click here for the official website of the Basilica of Saint Josaphat in Milwaukee

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