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.