St. Ignatius Church, Chapel, Rectory and Schools
6559 N. Glenwood Ave.
Active Parish: Most of Mallin's decorations remain
1922 - 1953
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St. Ignatius Chapel
John Mallin decorated various parts of St Ignatius church, chapel, and rectory, as well as the boys and girls schools, starting in 1922 up until 1953, a span of 31 years. This indicates he may have had a special relationship with the church and its leaders. This is also indicated by some work donated by him, such as varnishing the auditorium floor and school doors.
St Ignatius is the first church listed in the back page of his brochures, where he lists the churches he worked on in chronological order. Although he had other contracts and work before 1922, including at the Bohemian National Cemetery Ceremony Hall, St Ignatius may have been his first major contract with a church. Some of the decorations he did in the church interior no longer exist, but most of the work he did in the smaller St John’s chapel are still extant. His work at St Ignatius runs the gamut from cleaning and painting walls to elaborate mural decorations. Some of the documents specifying the work done are on this web page.
St Ignatius church was founded by the Jesuits from St. Ignatius College on Roosevelt Road on the near west side of Chicago. The first church was erected on Sheridan Road on the north side of Chicago in 1907. In 1917, a new church designed by the architect Henry Schlacks was built at the corner of Loyola and Glenwood Ave in Chicago. It was patterned after the Gesu church in Rome that was designed by Michaelangelo, who was a friend of St Ignatius of Loyola. The church was designed in the Jesuit style of architecture, and is 200 feet long and 150 feet wide. The golden canopy over the altar was modeled after Bernin’s canopy in St Peter’s Basilica in Rome.
The original paintings in the church were done by different artists, including John Mallin. In the two side altars are paintings by the St. Louis artist Charles Bosseron Chambers, including the image of the child Jesus with Joseph. This painting has been reprinted millions of times, and is known as “The Light of the World.” Chambers also painted the 14 Stations of the Cross in the church. Ten oil paintings honoring St. Ignatius on the semi-circular ceiling were done by Chicago artist Augustine Pall.
A dated photo of the church interiors indicates that Mallin decorated the church in 1922. The original Mallin art in the church included the angels and stencil background above the St Ignatius paintings. The paintings in the circular ceiling and two murals in the arches were also done by Mallin. In one of his brochures he states: “The dominating colors of the decoration is ivory and gold (genuine XX carat gold leaf used). On the marbleized columns we find the tone and lines of the sanctuary columns, which are a part of the original church structure. The imitation has been so carefully wrought, that the eye cannot detect the new from the old. The pilasters flanking the art windows reproduce the color and tones of St. Anne marble. The beams across the ceiling are decorated in an Italian Renaissance. All the decoration is painted by hand.” The columns and some stencils remain, which are documented in the photos on this web page.
In 1925, Mallin also decorated the organ front in the back of the church, which has a painting of St. Cecilia, the patron saint of music, as well as gold work and ornamental work. These decorations are still intact.
Portions of the church were later redecorated by Mallin when Rev. John J. Sullivan was pastor of the church, which was between 1946 and 1955. A scaffolding receipt from 1953 for the main church suggests that the redecoration was done at this time. A Mallin brochure with the Rev. Sullivan noted as the pastor, shows the Mallin decorations in the archway above the sanctuary, the circular mural depicting angels in the ceiling next to the sanctuary, as well as two new murals which replaced the two murals he did in 1926. The brochure also states “The dominating colors of the decoration are ivory and Genuine XX 23 Carat Gold Leaf. On the marbleized columns, we find the tones and lines of the sanctuary columns, which are part of the original church Structure. The imitation has been so carefully wrought, that the eye cannot detect the Old from the New.”
In one of the two new murals, there are figures of five priests on the left side of the mural. These are most probably the five priests who served as pastors at St Ignatius between 1908 and 1955, including the Rev. J.R. Rosswinkel, SJ, Rev. David M. Johnson, SJ, Rev. Fitz George Dineen SJ, Rev. Joseph T. Lannon, SJ, and Rev. John J. Sullivan, SJ. It was common for Mallin to paint pastor’s faces in other church murals, such as at St Joseph’s in Hammond, Indiana. The murals, ceiling decoration, and archway decorations are still intact, although additional decorations were added in the ceiling next to the Mallin artwork. The 1953 decorations are shown in the black and white brochure photos.
St John’s Chapel, a smaller chapel within the church building, was decorated by Mallin sometime between 1922 and 1926. Mallin had an advertisement for his business in the June 18, 1926 Daily World, a Chicago Archdiocese newspaper, which included photos of the St. Ignatius chapel. A photo in one of Mallin’s brochures shows him restoring the chapel ceiling. The text mentions that the chapel was originally decorated 24 years prior, suggesting the restorations were done in the late 1940s early 1950s. Most of the Mallin artwork in the chapel remains except for some angels that were painted over and replaced with new angels painted by Polish restorers. The painting behind the alter of the Blessed Mother and Child is a copy of the French painting Regina Angelorum by William Bouguerau and was done by Mallin in the original chapel decorations.
Mallin first decorated the church rectory in 1925, including the dining room, study, and library. These decorations included fresco painting, cleaning, painting and woodwork varnishing. A copy of one of these 1925 documents is shown. In 1930 Mallin did work in Father Dineen’s study, and in 1931 did additional painting and varnishing in the library and hall. He also gold bronzed 25 chairs, which may be the chairs included in a photo of the rectory dining room on this web page. A photo of the rectory chapel decorated by Mallin is also on this web page. It is not known if any of the original rectory decorations remain.
St Ignatius School Decorations
Mallin documents indicate that he did work at the St Ignatius Boys and Girl’s Schools in 1925, 1927, 1930 and 1934. One of the decorations was a painting of St Ignatius done in 1929 and put in the school stairway. Most of the work he did included painting, woodwork varnishing, ironwork painting, plastering cracks, as well as stenciling of the school windows. The specifications of the work are quite detailed and some of these documents are included on this web page.
- A History of the Parishes of the Archdiocese of Chicago Volume 1. Msgr. Harry C. Koenig, S.T.D., editor. The Archdiocese of Chicago, Chicago, 1980.
- McNamara, Denis R. Heavenly City, The Architectural Tradition of Catholic Chicago. Archdiocese of Chicago, 2005.
- Lane, George, Kezys, Algimantas. Chicago Churches and Synagogues. Loyola University Press, 1981.