Wednesday, April 20, 2016


But kudos to  St. John in Chicago for being name the most beautiful in America. Of course if St. Joseph had been in running we know who would have won!  St. John's, like St. Joseph's, celebrates both forms of the one true Mass! The article below is wonderful especially having been written by a reporter for a secular newspaper in Chicago!!!

From the Chicago Tribune:

St. John Cantius chosen America's Most Beautiful Church

Threatened with the wrecking ball in 1988, St. John Cantius Roman Catholic Church, with its opulent baroque interior, stands as one of Chicago's many symbols of resurrection.

This past weekend, the Goose Island neighborhood parish built by Polish immigrants in the 19th century, marshaled more than 16,000 of its fans and faithful to be voted "The Most Beautiful Church in America," edging out Cathedral of the Madeleine, the seat of the Salt Lake City Archdiocese.The contest, dubbed Church Madness, began as a whim of Patrick Murray, a self-proclaimed liturgy geek and consultant for Granda Liturgical Artsa church design company in Omaha, Neb. Inspired by the NCAA basketball tournament nickname, March Madness, Murray designed a bracket of 64 architecturally alluring churches throughout the U.S. and posted them on his personal blog, which usually had about 10 views a day — "I think nine of them were from my mom."But the introduction of the "Sacred 64" bracket quickly changed that. By April 7, four days after the contest debuted, the blog was up to 70,000 views from 3,500 visitors. It had about 7,000 visitors Saturday, the day St. John Cantius took the title.

 "I've been surprised at the emotional response," said Murray, 25, a native of Des Plaines who grew up part of the time in Northbrook and once attended St. John Cantius. "At the same time I shouldn't be.

The whole point of art and architecture in these churches it to play to our emotions and lift our hearts."

The Rev. Joshua Caswell, a priest with the Canons Regular, the religious order housed at St. John Cantius, said he believes the contest provided a pleasant distraction for Catholic faithful.

"Beauty matters," he said. "Our culture is starved for beauty."

He admits he didn't think about the importance of the contest at the time. But as St. John Cantius advanced to the "Theological 32," the "Stunning 16," and the "Ecclesiastical Eight," he was in it to win it, as were other competitors, he learned.

Also included in the original bracket was St. Peter's, a windowless urban art-deco church in Chicago's downtown.

"I was hoping to present a variety of styles, spotlighting the fact that beauty and creativity can come in all shapes and sizes," Murray said.

Still, he was happy to see St. John Cantius claim the title.

"It had an extraordinary impact on my faith," he said. "That was my first time ever understanding that we have this great Catholic heritage of art and tradition and liturgy that's all so important, and through baptism it's mine."


Frank H said...

Fowl? Foul!

Carol H. said...

Those large medallion style paintings are absolutely beautiful!

Patrick Murray said...

Hi Father, thanks for the post! I run the site that did the competition. I just wanted to pop in to say that St. Joseph was indeed in the running! It was included in the South Bracket. Sorry to say, it was knocked out in the first round. I guess that doesn't make it any better, now that I write it out here. Perhaps we can re-include it in a future bracket. Thanks again for the mention and happy Easter! –Patrick Murray

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Thank you Patrick (as I blush) and I had no idea about us being in it. God bless you and I'm glad this has gotten publicity. I picked up the story from the Tribune from my Yahoo search engine which had the story!

Anonymous said...

St. Joseph's (Macon) lost out to Immaculate Conception (New Orleans) in the first round:

George said...


Monday morning, prior to our Miraculous Medal novena, a good number of tourists
were in and outside of the Church taking pictures. They were getting back on their tour bus as I arrived for the novena. By the reaction of many of them,they were quite impressed. I overheard one lady saying it reminded her of some of the Churches in Italy. I was informed by a person who had talked with some of them that these tourists were from ... Chicago.
One thing I have learned is that it is a whole different thing experiencing a Church in person compared to looking at pictures on the Internet.

Anonymous said...

Beauty cannot be defined, nor can we say one church (or sculpture or painting or symphony...) is "more beautiful" than any other. We can say "I prefer this one over that one" but this is only an expression of personal preference.

Marc said...

St. Thomas defined beauty, and he explained why it is objective.

Should we go with the view of Anonymous or that of St. Thomas on this question?

Anonymous said...

Bee here:

Saint John Cantius is my home parish. I am very proud that she won the honor. I voted in the last three rounds (once I heard about the contest) and of course I voted for SJC. But honestly, I sincerely think SJC is not the most beautiful church in the U.S. It's not even the most beautiful church in Chicago. I got such a kick out of the contest, and rooted for my home parish, but I think there are churches in Chicago that are much more beautiful that SJC. And I must say your parish church, Fr. McD, is very very beautiful, especially since you reinstalled the communion rail.

What I liked about the whole contest was the positive attention given to the beauty of God's houses. And what especially warmed my heart was the recognition for SJC, and for the work of the Canons Regular there, and their mission of the restoration of the sacred. That is of utmost importance - that not only the church itself is beautiful and worthy of our Lord, but that the priests and people that worship there do so striving for holiness, and worship in Spirit and in Truth, with great reverence for God. That is what I love most about SJC, and that I can say she does better than any other church I've attended since Vatican II. Praise God.


George said...

Looking at the pictures, I think that St John Cantius would do well in any competition. There is enough evidence there to make a good case for its coming out on top in the competition. I can understand how you could be proud of your church.