High Altar Restoration Update

Newly Restored St. Ann Medallion


While work on the restoration and reguilding of the High Altar seems slow, the work which has been thus far completed is magnificent. What you will see on Palm Sunday will take your breath away. What you see with this portion of our church restoration, is what our early founding parishioners saw when this altar was installed. Here then is a progress report of the work on the altar:


- the oval frame with the cross and rays, which were glued, consolidated, and fully re-gilded
- the surface of the wood on top of the altar was cleaned and protected
- the moldings and small decorative squares were glued, partially reconstructed, and gilded
- the two Angels were cleaned, consolidated, filled with gesso in the parts of losses, retouched and
  partially re-gilded

After June 13th the scaffold will be installed again to complete the altar.


Blessing of Cross by Fr. Frank Phillips and held by Expert Restorer Tomasz







According to parish tradition, the awe inspiring main altar, as well as its matching two side altars were made in Austria and were displayed at the 1893 Columbian Exposition in Chicago.


We are proud to announce that after many years of waiting, St. John’s has begun a major restoration of the main high altar. Our High Altar, or often referred to as the reredos, consists of a four story baroque structure in a natural wood finish with 10 Corinthian columns as well as many gilded ornaments, laurels and florets.


Cantius High Altar
Archival photo of the High Altar in 1910


The centerpiece is a larger-than-life size oil painting of St. John Cantius standing in the Main Market Square of Kraków, Poland, painted by the famed Polish ecclesiastical artist Tadeusz Żukotyński. The painting is flanked by the statues of St. Peter and Paul, guardians of the faith and of the Church. The reredos is crowned with a beautiful oval image of St. Anne, Patroness of Poland and second patron of the parish, with the child Mary.


chicago church


Due to the effects of time and Chicago weather, the altar has suffered much over the years from extreme cold and heat which has disturbed the wood as well as left the gilding in need of dire repair. Scaffolding will be needed during restoration which will leave the sanctuary with the appearance of being “under construction.” We thank you in advance for your understanding during this process.

If you would be interested in helping us restore this treasure of Catholic art dedicated to the Glory of God please contact:

      Fr. C. Frank Phillips, C.R.
      312-243-7373
      .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)



Image of Angel from the top of the Altar. The statute will have to be totally refinished




chicago church
The effects of weather, soot, and age are clearly visible on our 125 year old High Altar




cantius altar
Expert Restorer Tomasz working on St. Ann Frame



Any true Restoration of the Sacred begins with our own lives. If we restore the Sacred within ourselves then God’s Image is seen through the beautiful and holy temple that He created. True beauty always points back to God, the Author of beauty. This is the case not only for our own lives, but also for the “Domus Dei’ the House of God.