Corpus Christi Catholic Church: grand architecture, Bavarian stained glass and a chance to say WOW! like true Americans

We set out from home on a rainy Saturday morning with our dorky matching backpacks and a thermos of bean soup bound for Bronzeville.  Our first stop on Chicago Architecture Foundation’s’ Open House Chicago itinerary was Corpus Christi Catholic Church.  Normally HOB and I tried to hold back on the gape-mouthed WOW! exclamations when travelling in Europe since we’ve heard this conforms to European stereotypes of American behavior.   Fortunately, however, we were travelling in Chicago, our home town, and therefore indulged in full fledged all-American WOW!-ing when taking in of Corpus Christi’s splendid and well-preserved interior.  Gary, a lifelong member of the church and once-student of the adjacent (now closed) Catholic school, led us on an compelling tour.


The handsome neo-Renaissance façade of Corpus Christi Catholic Church, by architect Joseph W. McCarthy.  It was built in the early 20th century.


North side of the church.


High alter of Carrera marble.  Above the tabernacle is a miniature mosaic replica of Leonardo’s The Last Supper.  The semi-circular apse above the high altar has a cool diamond shaped pattern.


Admit it, you just said WOW! didn’t you?

The interior dome has a groin vault and it’s foundation is steel framed.  There are 500 gold coffers, which apparently were once only suspended by horsehair and plaster, but now are reinforced by wire.


This is my favorite part: in the mid-Seventies, Corpus Christi added the red, green and black detailing in tribute to Black Liberation Theology.  It’s an inspired touch that is well integrated into the original décor.


Corpus Christi’s stained glass is from the Bavarian school of F.X. Zettler.  These are from the North transept and you can see how Zettler was a pioneer in three point perspective.


Signature of the artist.


Stained glass in the South transept depicting St. Clare defending Assisi in 1234.


Though it’s difficult to reproduce in photos, Zettler’s work are quite masterfully detailed with vivid, uniquely blended colors.


The Lamb of God, chilling on his book with seven seals.  He’s one of several charming mosaics in the church interior.


Sign nearby the church.


How we got to Corpus Christi Catholic Church: Chicago Transit Authority.

Where we slept: at home.  Price: mortgage, assessments and utilities.  Recommended: highly.










  1. No other word will do…it’s Wow!


  2. You said that with an American accent–well done!


  3. Double Wow for the windows, beautiful 🙂 Thanks for the visit, only been to Chicago once, and that was only for changing flights. But we did go out of the airport while we were waiting for our next flight and it seemed incredibly hot 🙂


    1. Chicago weather is….unpredictable. This week we’ve had temperatures ranging from 34 to 78 Fahrenheit. I hope you visit again and have a chance to see our wonderful variety of architecture.


      1. Yes maybe one day, we are coming over next year, but we are going to New England, hopefully I will get some good shots there 🙂


  4. Great post! We Americans have plenty of history close by if only we take the time to appreciate it. I especially liked the stained glass. The lamb is lovely, with his seven seals. And how fascinating that the church added the colors to honor Black Liberation Theology in the seventies.


  5. Thank you Claudia!


  6. arynkate · · Reply

    Wondeful post and definitely WOW! I would love to visit this place and because of you I at least now have some background 🙂


  7. Thank you arynkate–I hope you do get a chance to visit Bronzeville. It’s culturally rich and quite friendly community.


  8. laughingpretty · · Reply

    Just beautiful!


    1. Yes, isn’t it?


  9. Wow! Thanks for sharing!


    1. You all are cracking me up with the Wow!s. Thanks!


  10. Since it seems to be obligatory in this post, I should say: WOW!
    But no really, wow, those coffers! (I was imagining how complicated it would be to complete the working drawing for the ceiling and I just shuddered involuntarily hahaha)
    Very pretty stained glass windows… *draw hearts on my eyes*


    1. “Draws heart on my eyes” — that’s even better than “wow!”.


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