Do y'all know Giedre? If you live anywhere near Chicago and have any sort of upcoming life event that needs documenting, you should. She takes stunning photographs (case in point seen below) and I'm so happy to have her as a guest here at Bluebird Songs today. When she agreed to share about a few of her favorite Catholic Churches in Chicago I could not have been more ecstatic - because I spent a lot of time during my volunteer year in Chicago attending Mass at and soaking in the beauty of these exact same churches. Without further ado, here is Giedre to take you all on a little tour!
I'm the kind of person who loves walking into churches - especially Catholic churches. I love the hushed sacredness of the space, the vibrant patterns of the stained glass windows, the lingering scent of incense, and how the flickering light of the candle next to the tabernacle acknowledge Christ's presence in the Eucharist. I grew up in a pretty small town with only a few Catholic parishes in the region, so now that I live in a city as big as Chicago, it still blows my mind how many churches, shrines, and cathedrals are scattered all over the place: sometimes within just a block of each other. Every single one is beautiful - many of them tremendously so - but a few in particular are my favorites.
Located in Bucktown, this is one of the historic and monumental Polish parishes that can be seen from the Kennedy Expressway (I love to point it out to guests when driving by!). Opus Dei now runs this parish with smoooth efficiency and welcome. I love all the light colors of the walls in this church, the towering domes, and especially all the Marian imagery. There's at least half a dozen statues and pictures of Mary scattered throughout the church, not even counting the painting of Mary surrounded by angels within the main dome of the sanctuary.
Outside, the church is planted directly near a main road, making it a little difficult to appreciate the beautiful exterior architecture - especially on the rainy and gloomy day I came by to take photographs for this post. Inside, however, you're immediately swept away by all the details. The ceilings are incredibly intense, but I love the complexity of all the paneling and the huge organ dominating the back of the church.
Grand and awe-inspiring churches are wonderful, but I do love the intimacy of attending mass at a smaller parish, where everyone is standing close together and worshiping very near to the altar. Being able to walk to Mass on Sunday mornings while holding hands and seeing our Little Italy neighborhood come to life also makes my parish all the more special to me. Best of all, I find that the music ministry in small churches wins hands down: while I can certainly appreciate a stunning, solo rendition of Ave Maria, I'll always much rather hear an entire church full of parishioners enthusiastically singing their hearts out. The individual singers might sometimes be a bit off tune, but each participates with such spirited joy!
Giedre is a family portrait photographer & blogger based out of Chicago, Illinois. She carries a canon, shoots obsessively, and always writes about it afterwards. Visit her at www.walkingdotphotography.com