St. Louis IX, pray for us!
Today, I almost thought I was in Rome again, when visiting the festal church of the day was a routine joy!
The Church celebrated the feast of St. King Louis IX today, and so a friend and I went on pilgrimage to the beautiful parish of St. Louis, King of France in downtown St. Paul.
Emmanuel Masqueray, the architect of my beloved Cathedral as well as a number of the other beautiful and historic churches in the Twin Cities (including St. Agnes, the chapels on the University of St. Thomas campus, and the Basilica of St. Mary), was also the architect behind the creation of this parish church. The parish itself claims to have been his "little gem" (totally likely - being a Frenchman himself, he's bound to have been particularly fond of this, the local French ethnic Catholic community parish). Regardless, it is a beautiful church and quite a worthy example of Masqueray's artistic and architectural gifts.
The "winter chapel" of this church is my favorite part, and I wish you all could pray in it personally. I took a couple of photos while I was there, for those of you unable to experience the chapel yourself; I could only take a couple shots before another person came in to pray. So, a brief tour:
All in all, this chapel is one of the most POD places I've ever seen - wall-to-wall CATHOLIC, with beautiful stained glass, mosaic apse, marble sanctuary furnishings, a zillion vigil candles, and a trillion statues! It's a pretty tight fit for it all, but yet, in that totally French kitschy way, it somehow works. The chapel is built lengthwise along the back of the main church, so only the left wall has windows. The other wall contains most of those vigil candles and statues I mentioned, and of course, the Grotto as a "side chapel" to the main apse.
I hope you've enjoyed this little tour of St. Louis' "winter chapel", some day go and see it for yourself, and participate in one of the many offerings that this parish has for the sacraments of Confession and Holy Eucharist in the chapel! I will warn you, it gets REALLY crowded in there - standing room only is common for the weekday lunch hour Mass, and as far as the Saturday noon Mass goes, if you're there 10 minutes early it may already be too late to fit in the nave (yes, it is the DAY Mass for Saturday, at noon! Latest time around for those sleepy-head daily Mass-goers!). One might ask, if it's so packed, why not use the main church? Honestly, the main church is pretty too, but there is just something about this chapel that makes one long to be in it - it is the real heart of the parish I think, and I think this is why they prefer to keep the daily Masses here!
Add to this the fact that the Marist priests here offer one of the most convenient Confession schedules of any parish in the diocese, and boy do us sinners line up for it - I've seen them stretch down to the narthex and loop back around halfway down the nave! "If you build it, they will come" is certainly true here!
All this, despite the fact that the parish has a parking lot that only fits maybe 10 cars, and almost no street parking nearby. Wow.
Visit the Little French Church this week!