Holy Rolling on the Chicago Churches by Bus Tour

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Since moving here a little more than two years ago, I’ve wanted to go on the annual Churches By Bus Tour, organized by the Chicago Architecture Foundation. Because of scheduling conflicts, this was the first year I was able to go. It was a big time commitment–six hours–but definitely worth it.

The tour visited five churches:

St. Pascal Roman Catholic Church

Edgebrook Evangelical Covenant Church

Holy Taxiarchal And Saint Haralarambos Greek Orthodox Church

Immaculate Conception Roman Catholic Church

Queen of All Saints Basilica

The gothic Queen of All Saints Basilica was the most elaborate and stunning of the bunch. I wasn’t aware that Basilica is actually an architectural designation by the Pope. There are only 14 “minor” basilicas in the U.S., three of which are in Chicago (Our Lady of Sorrows and St. Hyacinth are the others) and there are four “major” basilicas in Rome. I kind of want to make architectural pilgrimages to all of them now.

I also really loved the mid-century modern Immaculate Conception Roman Catholic Church. It’s the first church I’ve been to that actually had Jetson-esque starbursts on the ceiling, playful lights and bright and inviting stained glass throughout.

The others were interesting in their own way. The inside of the Greek Orthodox church was covered with bright, beautiful murals and lighted by a 200 bulb Greek chandelier. Edgebrook Evangelical had a pious and modest presence, and blended in well with its neighborhood. And at St. Pascal I was drawn to the curious minaret–and also the “Haunted House” advertised at the neighboring school. Aren’t all churches technically haunted houses?

I was easily one of the youngest people on the tour, which filled three buses with senior holy architecture buffs. As a lifelong old soul, I still find that I’m surprised to be the young one on tours that seem like they would be so cool for all generations. Maybe they’re all hoping they can make it next year.

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