Open House Chicago Architecture Festival

St. John Cantius is featured in the Chicago Architecture Foundation’s Open House Chicago on Saturday, Oct. 14 from 10 am to 4 pm. The landmark church along with other Chicago architectural wonders will open its doors to thousands of visitors.

Open House Chicago is a free public festival that offers behind-the-scenes access to more than 200 buildings across Chicago.

Come explore this amazing 125 year old edifice saved from the wrecking ball and voted “Most Beautiful Church in America” in 2016. St. John Cantius Church has just undergone a major restoration of its High Altar, with historic ties to the Famous 1893 Columbian Exposition.

Priests and brothers of the Canons Regular will be available to give short tours highlighting the art and architecure of St. John Cantius. Even if you’ve been to St. John Cantius Church before or come every weekend, this will be an opportunity to experience it in a new way.


Click here to view photos from Open House Chicago »

Some Comments from past participants

“Thank you so much for the most amazing tour around St. John Cantius Church. As you know the Church is beautiful itself but the tour we received that truly opened our eyes for the beauty hidden behind. Thank you so so much. And now I think that the story about this holy place is more beautiful than the walls itself”

“Thank you so much for the tour! We learned so much about the people of faith who built this city. What a treasure in the heart of Chicago! We’ll be back for some concerts or Masses for sure.”

“We loved having the tour from the priests. They had so much passion and taught us not only about the church building but what it symbolizes. It was our favorite stop for Open House”

“Thank you for the tour… I really enjoyed learning about the symbolism of the church. I felt I could really relate to the message St. John Cantius passed on with fixing the broken jug. I was overwhelmed by the beauty of the church as well as the beauty in all the symbolism of every painting, sculpture…”

Architecture of St. John Cantius: A Summary

DESIGNED by Adolphus Druiding and completed in 1898, St. John Cantius Church took five years to build and is one of the best examples of sacred architecture in the city. The unique baroque interior has remained intact for more than a century and is known for both its opulence and grand scale—reminiscent of the sumptuous art and architecture of 18th century Krakow. The imposing 130 ft. tower is readily seen from the nearby Kennedy Expressway.

In 2013, St. John’s completed an ambitious restoration, returning the lavish interior to its original splendor. Of all the “Polish cathedrals” in Chicago, St. John’s stands closest to downtown. Located in the heart of Chicago, one mile directly west of the famous Water tower on Chicago Avenue, St. John Cantius Church is easily accessible by car, bus, or subway.

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Together with its school (1903) and rectory (1901), St. John Cantius Church (1893) forms a grand and amazingly intact group of turn of the century architecture.

Quick Facts

    • The cornerstone was laid in 1893. 50,000 people attended the ceremony.

    • The first Mass was held in the unfinished basement on Christmas Eve in 1893.

    • When the church was completed in 1898 it was the largest house of worship in the city.

    • In 1918 the parish had 22,000 parishioners, 2,500 school children, 40 sisters, and 13 priests and brothers.

    • By 1988 there were only 40 people for one Mass on Sunday.

    • The ceiling is 80’ above the floor in the center transept.

    • The church is 270’ in length 107’ wide.

    • There are 16 different varieties of inlaid wood in the hardwood floor installed in 1997.

    • The largest bell, ‘St. Anne,’ is over 5,000 lbs.

    • There are over 2,000 families and 8 choirs active at the parish today.

    • More than 500 Confessions are heard each Sunday.

    • Chicago’s first men’s religious order was established here in 1998 and now has 23 priests and brothers.



A postcard showing St. John Cantius Church, Rectory, and School from 1909.