St. Mary of Czestochowa
St. Mary of Czestochowa is located in the town of Cicero, southwest and adjacent to the city of Chicago. The parish began in a wooden church in 1895 to serve the Polish and German families that worked in a nearby lime stone quarry. The church was named after a miracle shrine of Czestochowa, the “Holy City” of Poland, and the location of a mystical black Madonna.
As the population grew, a new brick church was built in 1905. By 1918, a larger gothic style church was completed. The twin towers rise 200 feet above the ground. In 1920, St Mary’s was one of the largest parishes in the Chicago Archdiocese, with 800 families.
In 1927, Carrara marble alters, pulpit, and communion rails were imported from Italy and erected in the church. A mosaic of the black Madonna hung over the altar. In 1934 a fire broke out in the church, which damaged some of the altar and rail. New marble altars and rail were again imported from Carrera, Italy, and the church was subsequently redecorated.
In 1944, John Mallin was hired to redecorate the church by Rev. Theodore Langfort in preparation for the church’s golden jubilee in 1945. The cost for the redecoration was $8,000. In 1945 the church had more than 1,600 families. The Mallin decorations are for the most part still extant, except for some decorations behind the altar that were removed or painted over. The original altar decorations can be seen in the 1945 architectural photo on this website.
As in other Chicago communities, many of the Poles, Czechs and other Europeans moved out of Cicero, to be replaced largely by Hispanics. Today the church’s parishioners are more than 60% Latino. A Virgin of Guadalupe image is now also prominent in the church. The church offers mass in English, Polish and Spanish and is headed by Father Waldemar Wieladek, a Polish priest from Bolivia.
St Mary of Czestochowa Golden Jubilee Book, 1945.