Few churches in Milwaukee rival Old Saint Mary Parish in terms of beauty. Built in 1847, it is the oldest Catholic church in the city. Step inside and you’ll see why it’s such a treasure.
Symbolizing heaven, the sanctuary shines in gold, as angels peer down from the walls. I love the ornate high altar and painting of the Annunciation. The ray of light emanating from the Father and the Holy Spirit, who is descending on the Virgin Mary, immediately draws one’s gaze to a focal point. Old Saint Mary is not a very big church and so, with all the gold, statues and stained glass windows, you feel totally immersed in a pocket of beauty in the middle of a busy and noisy downtown. What astonishes me is how, given the church’s prominent location, it managed to escape (largely) unscathed from the typical church “renovations” of the past forty years. Many buildings downtown have come and gone over the past century, but Old Saint Mary remains standing. Pay a visit.
Here’s a “before” picture. Besides the ambo, which was removed, and the altar rail, which was truncated a bit, it looks largely the same today. (Thanks to Matt over at Badger Catholic for featuring a great series of old pictures of this church.)