St. Mary of Perpetual Help

Project Name
St. Mary of Perpetual Help

1039 W. 32nd Street
Chicago, Illinois

Project Status
Active Parish

Project Date/s

St Mary of Perpetual Help was founded in 1880 in the south side Bridgeport area of Chicago to serve an increasing number of Polish immigrants in the area. The original two story frame building served the parishioners until a new church was completed in 1892. In 1903, the church was consecrated, the first U.S Polish Roman Catholic church to have this designation.

In 1961 John Mallin redecorated the church under the guidance of Reverend Monsignor Edward J. Smaza. The decorations include the icons of major Polish saints and 12 apostles that surround the sanctuary, as well as the detail work on the church ceiling.

The Polish saints depicted include St. Stanislaus Kostka, Blessed Kunegunda, St. John Cantius, St. Adalbert, St. Stanislaus, St. Casimir, St. Hedwig, and St. Andrew Bobola.

One mystery is that a postcard was sent to John Mallin in October of 1935 by the Right Reverend Monsignor Thomas A. Bona of St. Mary of Perpetual Help, stating, ‘You may figure on St Mary of PH’. This suggests that he was hiring Mallin to do some work on the church. However, no other information regarding any work done in 1935 or 1936 has been located. The 1936 Golden Jubilee book of the church does not mention any newly done decorations. Whether any Mallin work was done in the church, rectory, or school at that time is unknown.

Photos of the church include black and white architectural photos from 1961, during and after the decorations, as well as recent photos by Noah Vaughn and Kathy Mallin.

“The Art History of St. Mary of Perpetual Help” St Mary of Perpetual Help Brochure.