Minnesota’s Most Photogenic Churches

I discovered this delightful video last fall when the Archdiocese of Minneapolis-St. Paul announced a photography contest in their newspaper, The Catholic Spirit.  When the  contest was completed, one had to dig through the diocese website to find the video; and now the video has apparently been completely removed from that website, and lives on in obscurity only on YouTube. That’s sad because the magnificent architecture on display here is one of the glories of our Catholic heritage in Minnesota.

I was happy to see that several of the top-placing photos were of churches only a few miles away from us in Northfield.  The champion, St. Columbkill, is a church I’ve never seen though it is only a few miles south and east of Cannon Falls.  Likewise, 2nd place St. John the Baptist is in Vermillion only a few miles east from where I’ve worked in Farmington for 20 years– and I’ve never seen that one either.  I attended an Extraordinary Form mass at 3rd place St. Mary’s in New Trier this past Holy Week.  That striking red church actually appears in the video at least four times.

It’s sad to think about but you can’t help wondering, if Northfield’s old St. Dominic church had not been demolished in 1985, would we have made the top three as well?  The mostly German-immigrant Catholics of this rural area took great pride in their workmanship around the turn of the century when most of these churches were built.  It’s heartening that some of their works are still standing to be appreciated by us today.  The twin towers concept reminiscent of the old St. Dominic church is seen in at least two of the churches in the video: St. Nicholas in Watkins, and Assumption church in St. Paul.  It’s ironic that the latter parish has as its pastor today the same priest, Rev. Stephen O’Gara, who oversaw the demolition of St. Dominic church a quarter century ago.

Now for the video.  First of all the music. Someone picked a great rousing instrumental piece that’s perfectly fitting for the subject. Is it Vivaldi? Bach? Someone help me out. The best part is that at about 3:12 you discover that it’s a live piece — because you hear a baby start crying.  Just like in church!  The baby keeps it up until the very end.

Other notes:

:25  St. Mary’s appears for the first time

:58 The new Divine Mercy in Faribault.  The first time I saw this church I became frightened because I though space aliens had landed in a cornfield. Later, at 3:59, St. Rita’s in Cottage Grove.  Who are they trying to kid? Is this an affirmative action quota for ugly modern churches?

1:20 Hazelwood church just a few miles north of hwy. 19 along I-35.  One of several wooden churches that made the list.

2:20 St. Mary’s again.

2:49 Assumption church in St. Paul.  One of the oldest most storied parishes in the state.

3:12 baby starts crying…

3:21 St. Mary’s

I’ve watched this video dozens of times and I never get sick of it.  Now I want to plan a road trip and see some of these beauties in person.


About andrewkornkven

I am an American citizen, historian and truthseeker, resident of Northfield, Minnesota.
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