St. Stanislaus Bishop and Martyr
St. Stanislaus Bishop and Martyr
5352 W. Belden Ave
Active congregation; 1968: Sanctuary paintings removed and church repainted. Mallin murals in the vestibule and some paintings and murals in the church remain.
Between 1893 and 1901, St Stanislaus Bishop and Martyr Parish was a mission of St. Stanislaus Kostka, a large predominantly Polish parish. St. Stanislaus B and M was located in the Cragin area on the Northwest side of Chicago, where only a sparse population existed. The original church was a two story wooden building, and the original congregation consisted of seven Polish families. In 1901 the first resident pastor, Rev. John Obyrtacz CR was appointed. By 1909, there were 180 families and single persons that belonged to the parish.
In 1907, the original church structure was destroyed by a fire. At a cost of $50,000, a new church was designed by J.G. Steinbach and a cornerstone laid in December 1907. In 1913, a parish hall was constructed that was to become the foundation of a new church. In 1925, construction of the new church above the parish hall began. The church was completed in 1927 at a cost of $157,000. The church was dedicated on Oct 29, 1927. At that time the interior was decorated by Norbert Czarnowski.
In 1942, John Mallin was hired by Rev. Jerome Fabianski, CR, to redecorate the church for its Golden Jubilee, which took place on May 9, 1943. His contract with the church stipulated that he would do painting, decorating, gilding, and mural painting, including remodeling of plaster ornaments, for which he was to be paid $14,000.
The St. Stanislaus Golden Jubilee book describes the Mallin decorations in detail. “The entire renovation was designed and executed by Mallin, who is universally recognized as the best church decorator in the United States.” In describing the sanctuary, it states, “In the half dome may be seen the enthralling painting of the representatives of each of the heavenly choirs of Angels, standing in reverent homage to the Host of Angels, God Most Holy, hidden from our earthly eyes, but everlastingly present in the Blessed Sacrament. Below and around the altar are the life like figures of St. Stanislaus B.M., St. Stanislaus Kostka, St. Hyacinth, Bl. Jolanta, Bl. Bronislava, Bl. Salomea, Bl. Kunegunde, St. Ceslaus, St. John Nepomucene, St. Constance, St. Adele, St. Andrew Bobola, St. Adalbert, St. Hedwig, St. John Cantius, St. Venceslav, St. Casimir, and St. Ludmile. And of noteworthy significance is the introduction of an honorary guard to the sanctuary on each side of the arch, the lifelike figures of St. Cyril and St. Methodius, characters of blessed remembrance amongst the Slavic peoples.”
In describing the Mallin paintings in the vestibule, the book also states: “Truly of historical importance are the mural paintings in the vestibule. Besides the noteworthy painting of the Blessed Mother of Czestochowa, on the left side of the vestibule we notice a mural depicting the true spirit of Christianity as manifested in Poland, amongst the different classes of social life, beginning from the king and nobleman down to the peasant. A glimpse of such further continuity on American soil to the Faith of our Forefathers is also self-explanatory, when on this same mural we observe the hardy Polish pioneers, kneeling in humble homage before Christ and His Blessed Mother.” In the “St. Stanislaus B and M Centenary Jubilee book, it also mentions that in this mural, “King John Casimir, King John Sobiesky, and Ignacy Jan Paderewski, first President of Poland, are joined by kneeling figures of the immigrants who founded our parish.”
The Golden Jubilee book also continues, “As we turn our gaze from the left to the right side of the vestibule, we notice the spiritual heritage of memories of the gallant Resurrection Fathers, first in its glorious founders and benefactors of this St Stanislaus Parish in the past, and in the future to the young priest the work of noble importance to God and Country.” The Centenary Jubilee Book further elaborates: “Standing on the left are two of the co-founders of the Congregation, Fr. Peter Semenenko, C.R., and Fr. Jerome Kajsiewicz, C.R. Kneeling and holding the American flag is Fr. Marian Kaleth, C.R., who had served as an Associate at our parish and was serving as a Chaplain in the United States Army. Seated on the right is Archbishop Joseph Weber, C.R. Standing behind him are Fr Stanislaus Swierczek, C.R., second Pastor, Fr. Vincent Barzynski, C.R., responsible for founding our parish, and Fr. John Obyrtacz, C.R., the first Pastor.”
The Golden Jubilee book also notes that “The children, and from them the adults, will gain inspiration from the paintings on each side of the church, no less beautiful than the murals in the sanctuary, but interesting to most of us, not only because of the beautiful and artistic pictures, which truly are an object of admiration in themselves, but also because of the brilliance of decoration and design to be found wherever the eye may set. Gaze at the ceilings above and you will give testimony to the fact that no one foot of space anywhere has been spared the touch of the artist.”
In 1968 the church was repainted and the paintings in the Sanctuary were removed. This was probably due to the Second Vatican Council’s decree on the Reform of the Sacred Liturgy. However the Mallin murals in the vestibule remain, as do several paintings in the church, including the angel paintings on the ceiling.
The church currently conducts masses in Polish, English and Spanish.
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.
St. Stanislaus Bishop and Martyr Church Golden Jubilee Book, 1943.
St. Stanislaus Bishop and Martyr Church Centenary Jubilee Book, 1993. Accessed at Archdiocese of Chicago’s Joseph Cardinal Bernadin Archives and Records Center.
St. Stanislaus Bishop and Martyr Parish. Parish history. http://ststansbm.org/parish-history/