After many visits to Chicago I finally had the opportunity to visit Old Saint Patrick's Church, a mainstay in Chicago architecture. Being of Irish heritage and with my avocation as The Catholic Photographer, it has been a recommended place to visit by my Chicago friends. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Old Saint Pat's was founded in 1846 and is the oldest church in Chicago having survived the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. It's undergone remodeling and restoration along the way and today stands as the best example of Celtic art and design that I have seen. Much of the Celtic theme draws on the Book of Kells and so as you might imagine, it is quite intricate and beautiful.
Saint Patrick is front and center when you walk through the doors and images of the many great Irish saints are visible in both the windows and statues. Celtic knots and swirls dominate the walls and windows and so you know you are on Irish ground, even Irish Catholic ground for sure.
But, as I have found in some churches dedicated to Mary, the theme is not Christocentric. The understated Crucifix in comparison to the illuminated statue of St Patrick on the altar screen was notable to me. I'm not a theologian so my observations are just based on what I felt after spending some time in prayer in Old Saint Patrick's. It stands in contrast to Holy Name Cathedral in downtown Chicago where when you walk in the Resurrection Crucifix becomes your focal point.
I still loved my visit to Old Saint Patrick's and from everything you see around you, and through reading the weekly bulletin, it is evident the parish is both lively and very centered on the message and works of Jesus Christ. They just need a bigger Crucifix.