“There's a couple of one way streets that make it a little tricky, even fools GPS sometimes,” said Father Brian Harrison.
Father Brian Harrison is the chaplain of St. Mary of Victories...the second oldest Catholic Church in the city of St. Louis.
“The church is not now big enough in terms of regular attendees to be a full parish so the archdiocese scaled it down to the status of a chapel about ten years ago.”
It is a beautiful place that was founded in 1843 for German immigrants and later in 1956 became the city's Hungarian Catholic Church and cultural center and although the parishioners’ backgrounds might have changed...this sanctuary has not.
“This alter rail here dates back to the 1840's and the pews…hand carved alter rail.”
The paintings behind the alter are just as old, but the Stations of the Cross are even older.
“They came from Europe and they date to 1835. “
The hand carved baptismal font was added around the 1850's...The pipe organ in 1856.
“The alter is the real sort of crown jewel I suppose you could say, it's very beautiful you can see.”
What you can't see from the pews are the relics in those four panels.
“Within each of those panels. There are maybe a few dozen relics little tiny relics, tiny piece of bones of the saints.”
Speaking of saints, the different alters around the church honor different saints and well, one hopefully soon-to-be saint.
“The one in the middle we're very proud of that's Blessed Francis...”
A priest known as an early pioneer of racial justice.
“Right after the civil war in October 1865 he preached two week mission in this church and he was celebrating mass on this very same alter that I use every Sunday,” said Father Harrison.
So this is more than a place of worship...it's a building on the national register of historic places...a church where St. Stephen of Hungary stands tall and time sort of stands still.
There are still two masses each Sunday...a Latin mass at 9 and another English, Hungarian mass at 11. You can take a guided tour of St. Mary of Victories...just call 314-231-8101 to set it up.
There's also going to be a special mass on Palm Sunday. To learn more about that go to smov.info.