Thursday, January 31, 2013

The Seven Most Beautiful Churches in Milwaukee

Last week I posted a book review of architect Duncan Stroik's The Church Building as a Sacred Place.  I was greatly impressed by some of the magnificent churches from around the world that were pictured within the book.  Then I stumbled across a blog post by John White at on  The 12 Most Beautiful Churches in America  and I was reminded of a dear friend of mine who used to send me pictures of grand churches she ran across in her travels and I would always be so impressed and a little jealous, wondering why it seemed that every city in the world has beautiful churches but my own.  So I wrote to her complaining of the lack of beauty in my own city and she gently reminded me that Milwaukee is filled with glorious Catholic houses of worship.  Of course she's right and to prove it, here is my compilation of The Seven Most Beautiful Churches in Milwaukee:

St. Anthony's on Mitchell Street which is not only a beautiful church but it also wins my vote for the most beautiful Mass.  Every Sunday at 10 AM you will find the pews filled with large families, eight altar servers assisting the priest, a glorious choir, outstanding homilies, incense wafting through the air, everyone receiving communion on the tongue while kneeling at the altar rail, and a closing which includes the sung Salve Regina followed by the prayer to St. Michael the Archangel.  It is perfection!  Check out the panoramic view here for a really great view of the church.

St. Anthony Church from the parish website
St. Anthony exterior photo credit:  Flickr

St. Joseph's Chapel inside the Motherhouse of the School Sisters of St. Francis  This is perhaps the best kept secret in Milwaukee!  The chapel is tucked inside a large brick convent/office building/nursing home.  Take some time to visit the many reliquaries stationed around the chapel.  An even better secret is the fabulously gorgeous adoration chapel in the back of the altar.  If you arrive for adoration at noon, you can observe the revolving door of the tabernacle open to reveal the monstrance for adoration.  Fabulous!  It is my all-time favorite place to adore the Lord.

St. Joseph Chapel photo credit:  Badger Catholic

Old St. Mary in downtown Milwaukee.  This lovely old church is only a few blocks away from the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist.  Fairly large crowds attend the daily 7 AM and 12 noon Masses.  It's one of my favorite places for daily Mass and for praying the Stations of the Cross.

Photo Credit:  Flickr
Old St. Mary Photo Credit:  Wikipedia

The Basilica of St. Josephat  I will never get over the awe I feel when I think about the poor Polish immigrants who sacrificed and saved to build this most holy church.  Praying here always makes me feel small, as if I truly am surrounded by the grandeur of God and all of His heavenly angels and saints.  Maybe that's because of the fabulous dome! The Basilica is managed by the Conventual Franciscans and on Tuesday mornings after the 7 AM Mass they always pray a novena to St. Anthony and everyone is invited to come up and personally venerate his relic.

Interior of the Basilica of St. Josephat-image:  Tripadvisor
Photo Credit:  Wikipedia

The Basilica of the National Shrine of Mary Help of Christians at Holy Hill  It's a bit of a drive from my house out to Holy Hill, but it is always worth the drive.  Not only is the church magnificent, but the Carmelites who manage the shrine always give amazing homilies.  The outdoor stations of the cross are a treat to pray on days when the weather is warm.

Photo Credit:  Holy Hill website
Photo credit:  Holy Hill Properties

St. Stanislaus Oratory  (Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest) Sadly, I haven't been to Mass here in over 20 years.  I believe it is the only church in the Milwaukee area where Mass is offered in the Extraordinary form every Sunday.  It's so close to my home that I really don't have an excuse for not attending Mass there more frequently.

Photo credit: Jay Filter Photography
Photo Credit:  Milwaukee Polonia Project
The Church of the Gesu On the Marquette University campus, Gesu is run by the Jesuits.  Daily Mass and confession is offered several times each day in the (not so beautiful)  lower church. Lately the church chimes have been ringing out the Salve Regina every noon which I find to be such a spiritual boost to the busy downtown neighborhood during the midday bustle.

Gesu interior photo credit:  Pixels to Prove It
Gesu Church photo credit:  Wikipedia

Which ones did I miss?  What are your favorite churches in Milwaukee and elsewhere?  The Archdiocese of Milwaukee is offering a free Steeplechase Pilgrimage on February 9th which includes a tour of some of the above churches.  Visit this link for more information.


  1. Wow! Thanks for these beautiful pictures of our heritage --- and future, Anne. I've been to Holy Hill one my way to my parent's place in Fremont. I'd love to stop at some of these others.

    Thanks again.

  2. Thank you for spotlighting these magnificent churches, Anne. The transcendent beauty of these sacred sanctuaries is a delight to behold! It is easy to forget just how accessible these treasures of the Milwaukee Archdiocese actually are; thank you for the gentle reminder.



  3. Wow! Now you know I'm sure that I am fascinated by churches! I've never been to Milwaukee but these pictures make me wanna go!
    Just beautiful! I particularly like...well, I like all of them, but St. Josephat is just really stunning in my eyes.

  4. Thanks for all of the wonderful insights into these beautiful churches! I will definitely make it a priority to visit these magnificent places of worship soon! And may I add St. Robert's in Shorewood, to your list?

  5. Yes, St. Robert's in Shorewood is another beauty!

  6. Wow!! We don't have anything like these around here! My favorite is the Basilica of St. Josephat from what I can see. Maybe Monica can pick me up on her way...

  7. Mary :)

    The Basilica really is amazing!!! I am so excited because a friend of mine will be ordained to the priesthood there this May! I can't wait! I've been to lots of ordinations but none at the Basilica. It should be spectacular!

  8. So happy to see St. Anthony's on the list. We LOVE our parish!

  9. great choices, St. Savas Serbian Orthodox Church is also a treasure, as is the St. Joan of Arc Chapel at Marquette!

  10. Right, the St. Joan of Arc Chapel is so special! I've never been to St. Savas. It would make an interesting visit, I'm sure!

  11. Incredible, my favourite is definitely Gesu church

  12. Have to add St. Casimir to this list:

  13. There's a lot of Beautiful Churches in U.S. but the most beautiful for me is the San Diego Mormon Temple. When you drive up to this building you will probably think it looks like Sleeping Beauty's castle or something. It is very gorgeous. The grounds have a very calm and peaceful feeling.. You don't need to go inside to have a wonderful experience there. I recommend just stop by and look around. It's almost like a bit of heaven on earth.

  14. Wow, those churches look marvelous! And those pictures provide a good highlight for each of them. Thanks for listing this up, Anne. I wish I could visit most of these someday. Good day!

    Carson Coronado @ Old St. Mary's Detroit