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St. Francis de Hieronymo
Catholic Church & Garden

When many visitors enter the museum they have already visited St. Francis Cemetery and/or St. Francis de Hieronymo Catholic Church, prominent landmarks as you approach St. Paul from the east. The church steeple is visible for 5 to 10 miles in most directions.

St. Francis de Hieronymo Catholic Church was dedicated in 1884 after 12 years of construction. The massive stone structure was built from native sandstone quarried from two sites south of St. Paul. The beautiful edifice features a majestic steeple housing three vintage bells that ring every 30 minutes. The interior is a Romanesque revival style, characterized by the use of the round arch and vault, thick, massive walls and interior bays marked off by pillars. Romanesque-style altars and stunning stained-glass windows highlight its beauty. A display in the museum lobby describes the history of the church from its 1847 beginning as a log building. Various configurations of the existing structure and recent updates and repairs are also part of the exhibit. Significant among the changes are:

  • 1909 stabilization that required lifting the entire 7,000 ton structure four feet to accommodate foundation repairs and the addition of a basement and winter chapel.

  • Replacement of the upper steeple after a 2005 windstorm toppled it, just above the roofline.

St. Francis Church and Bell Tower

Church Garden

The garden east of the church was designed by priests, brothers and novices assigned to the Passionist Monastery during its existence.

A shaded path winds past Stations of the Cross, numerous statues, a large grotto, a screened shelter house previously used by monastery priests and brothers, and a historic stone bell tower. The path is lined with trees, a variety of plants, flowers and flowering shrubs. On the east edge of the garden are the graves of several Passionist religious who were native to St. Paul or served at the monastery.

The small, stone bell tower, near the northeast corner of the church, houses a piece of the Osage Mission story. In 1947 Passionist clergy built the tower to house the original bell brought to the mission by Fr. John Schoenmakers in 1847, believed to be the first church bell used in Kansas. The light stone used to trim the door and windows was taken from the mission school sidewalks.

Note: The church and gardens are used by local parishioners on a daily basis. Quiet, respectful viewing of the premises is expected.
Viewing the interior of the church is not allowed during services. Museum personnel can assist with questions regarding the church.

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