Basilica of St. Hyacinth

Basilica of St. Hyacinth

Saint Hyacinth Basilica, formally the Basilica of St. Hyacinth, referred to in Polish as 'Bazylika Świętego Jacka' is a historic church of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago located at 3636 West Wolfram Avenue, Chicago, Illinois. It is a prime example of the so-called 'Polish Cathedral style' of churches in both its opulence and grand scale. Along with such monumental religious edifices as St. Mary of the Angels, St. Hedwig's or St. Wenceslaus, it is one of the many Polish churches that dominate over the Kennedy Expressway.


Founded in 1894 as a Polish parish, the parish became the center for what came to be referred to as Jackowo, the "Polish Village" is Chicago's most well-known Polish Patch. The Resurrectionist Order from the city's first Polish parish, St. Stanislaus Kostka, organizied this parish and still administer it today. The parish has been intimately tied in with Chicago's Polish immigrants, particularly those who have arrived in the Solidarity and Post-Solidarity waves of Polish migration to Chicago that began in the 1980s. On June 26, 2003, Pope John Paul II granted the designation of minor basilica, the third church in Illinois to achieve this status. On November 30, 2003, Francis Cardinal George, O.M.I., officially proclaimed St. Hyacinth Church a basilica of the Archdiocese of Chicago.

Neighboring St. Wenceslaus parish was founded in 1912 as a Polish parish to relieve overcrowding at St. Hyacinth parish.


The church was designed by the architectural firm of Worthmann and Steinbach who built many of the magnificent Polish Cathedrals in Chicago. The church structure -- a red-brick edifice in the Classical Revival style has an ornate interior of Baroque influence. Ground breaking occurred on April 30, 1917 and the cornerstone was laid on October 21, 1917. Completion of the building was delayed for years by financial and construction difficulties, with the first Mass celebrated in the structure not taking place until August 7, 1921. Official dedication occurred on October 16, 1921 with Archbishop George W. Mundelein presiding.

St. Hyacinth's recognizable three-towered façade is rarely seen in American church architecture as well as the Baroque period that its style is modeled on. St. Hyacinth's bears a striking similarity to St. Mary of the Angels, which was designed by the same architects at about the same time and use the same combination of stone, glazed terra-cotta and brick. Also like at St. Mary of the Angels, much of the church's interior was decorated by John Anton Mallin, who decorated many other churches in Illinois. St. Hyacinth's is also home to the masterworks of such renowned painters as Thaddeus von Zukotynski and Mary Stanisia. Beginning in the mid-1990s, and taking almost a decade, the interior was renewed thoroughly, much of the mural work being performed by Conrad Schmitt Studios, Inc., of Wisconsin.

The large saucer dome which hangs over the church's crossing has a gigantic mural covering some 3,000 square feet and over 150 figures, saints, clergy and laity.

A large icon of Our Lady of Częstochowa that was brought in from Poland occupies the shrine in the basilica's western transept. The icon, which had been blessed by Pope John Paul II is crowned in keeping with Roman Catholic tradition, with the Virgin Mary's crown measuring nearly a foot long while the infant Jesus's crown being slightly smaller in size, each one bookended by bas-relief sculpted angels. Both crowns were crafted by Adam and Kathy Karbownik who melted down the gold and set the gemstones in them, while the jewelry used in the crowns was donated by thousands of parishioners with the gold alone weighed in at ten pounds [Citation
last = DeFiglio
first = Pam
author-link =
title = Icon's crown made from jewelry donated by faithful
Newspaper = Catholic New World
volume = 116
issue = 19
pages = 56
date = September 14-27 2008
year = 2008
url =

Three pairs of monumental bronze doors were hung along the main entrance at the basilica's northern end by famed Polish sculptor Professor Czesław Dźwigaj, well known for also casting the monument of Christ the King in Cicero in front of the church of St. Mary of Częstochowa as well as the Tolerance Monument that was recently unveiled in Jerusalem.

Monuments to John Paul II, Father Jerzy Popieluszko as well as a memorial to parishioners who served in both World Wars can be found in the neighboring 'Garden of Memory'.

t. Hyacinth's Basilica in books on architecture

St. Hyacinth Basilica is featured in a number of books on church architecture, among them "Chicago Churches and Synagogues: An Architectural Pilgrimage" by George A. Lane (Loyola Press 1982), "Heavenly City: The Architectural Tradition of Catholic Chicago" by Denis R. McNamara (Liturgy Training Publications 2005) and "The Archdiocese of Chicago: A Journey of Faith" by Edward R. Kantowicz (Booklink 2007), as well as the Polish language book "Kościoły Polskie w Chicago" {Polish Churches of Chicago} by Jacek Kociolek (Ex Libris 2002).

t. Hyacinth's today

St. Hyacinth is located in Chicago's Avondale neighborhood. About 8,000 worshippers attend mass every weekend. In keeping with customs brought to the area by Polish immigrants, the area is also known as "Jackowo," as "Jacek" is Polish for the proper name "Hyacinth". Naming neighborhoods or geographical areas after the local parish church is a widespread habit of Polish Catholics.

St. Hyacinth also supports a small school serving grades of K-8. It also has a preschool.

ee also

*Polish Cathedral style churches of Chicago
*Polish Americans
*Poles in Chicago
*Sr. Mary Stanisia
*Tadeusz Żukotyński
*Roman Catholicism in Poland


External links

* [ Archdiocese of Chicago]
* [ St. Hyacinth Basilica]

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