St. Francis de Sales Church (St. Louis)
|Saint Francis de Sales Oratory|
Saint Francis de Sales Oratory
|Location||St. Louis, Missouri|
|Dedicated||May 24, 1868 (first church)
November 26, 1908 (current church)
|Heritage designation||National Register of Historic Places|
|Designated||November 2, 1978|
|Demolished||1896 (first church, by tornado)|
|Diocese||Archdiocese of St. Louis|
|Division||Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest|
|Rector||Rev. Canon Michael K. Wiener|
|Vicar(s)||Rev. Canon Jean-Baptiste Commins, and Rev. Canon David Silvey|
Abbé Alex Barga
St. Francis de Sales Church
|Location||2653 Ohio St., St. Louis, Missouri|
|Area||less than one acre|
|Architectural style||Late Gothic Revival, Other, German-American Gothic Revl.|
|NRHP Reference #||78003393|
|Added to NRHP||November 2, 1978|
St. Francis de Sales Church (the Oratory of Saint Francis de Sales) is a Roman Catholic Oratory located in south St. Louis, Missouri. It is the second largest church in the Archdiocese of St. Louis after the cathedral-basilica. The church is popularly known as the "Cathedral of South St. Louis."
The historic main church was designed in the neo-Gothic style. Its stained glass windows were crafted by the St. Louis glazier Emil Frei, Sr. It has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Since 2005 the church has been operated by the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest, which practices the Latin liturgy and emphasizes the liturgical arts, with a strong music program.
The original Saint Francis de Sales Church (1867) was destroyed following the great St. Louis Tornado in 1896. It was rebuilt according to the design of Berlin architect Viktor Klutho in a neo-Gothic style. The sanctuary contains an 52-foot-tall (16 m) altarpiece featuring a polychrome sculpture of the Crucifixion in its upper register. Side altars are dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary and Saint Joseph, as well as Our Mother of Perpetual Help and the Infant of Prague. The stained glass windows are the work of the eminent St. Louis glazier Emil Frei, Sr. The church is dedicated in honor of Saint Francis de Sales (d. 1622), bishop and doctor of the Church. At 300 feet tall, the church, with its main spire, ranks (tied) as the sixth-tallest church in the United States.
Founded in the 1860s to serve the German immigrant community, Saint Francis de Sales developed schools on its campus for Catholic children of elementary and high school levels. Today it is home to a diverse and growing congregation. The adjacent high school building is leased by a KIPP charter school; the original grade school building provides facilities for the Oratory’s community of approximately 100 home-schooled children. The home-school cooperative meets every Wednesday and provides instruction in literature, catechism, the natural sciences, etc.
Since 2005, at the invitation of Archbishop Raymond Burke, then archbishop of St. Louis, the Oratory has been entrusted to the care of the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest, a Roman Catholic priestly community of Pontifical rite dedicated to the traditional Latin liturgy. The Institute’s first rector at Saint Francis de Sales was the Rev. Canon Karl W. Lenhardt. The present rector of the Oratory is the Rev. Canon Michael K. Wiener; the vicar is the Rev. Canon William Avis.
In November 2008, the church celebrated the 100th anniversary of the dedication of the new building with a solemn pontifical Mass celebrated by Bishop Robert J. Hermann, followed by a festive reception featuring traditional German cuisine. The Oratory also announced the beginning of a capital campaign to raise funds for important restoration work. The most immediate and most urgent object of the campaign is to stabilize the church’s majestic 300-foot-tall (91 m) steeple, which is slowly pulling away from the building due to problems with the foundation. Church officials and architects have endorsed this "Tradition for Tomorrow" restoration campaign, in order to preserve one of the most significant historical landmarks in St. Louis.
The rector of the Oratory serves as the Archbishop’s Delegate for the implementation of Pope Benedict XVI’s motu proprio Summorum Pontificum in the diocese. Unlike a parish, with geographically determined boundaries, the Oratory does not cover a specified territory; the Oratory has permission to conduct baptisms, weddings and funerals in addition to Holy Mass and confessions. In accord with the Institute of Christ the King’s emphasis on the solemnity of the sacred liturgy and the beauty of liturgical arts, the Oratory has a highly developed music program, with several choirs specializing in Gregorian chant and polyphony. In the summer of 2009, the Oratory music program organized a course of Gregorian chant for beginners.
- National Park Service (2010-07-09). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service.
- Faherty, William Barnaby; Abeln, Mark Scott (2009). Catholic St. Louis: A Pictorial History. St. Louis, Mo: Reedy Press. p. 176. ISBN 1-933370-83-1.
- David Bonetti, "Celebrating restoration and preservation", St. Louis Post-Dispatch, May 10, 2007, Get Out section, p. 8.
- National Park Service (2009-03-13). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service.