Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago

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Holy Name Cathedral is the motherchurch of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago.
Holy Name Cathedral is the motherchurch of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago.
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The archdiocese is governed from the cathedra in Holy Name Cathedral.
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The galeros, or scarlet hats of the archdiocese's former cardinals, hang above the cathedra.

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago is a particular church of the Roman Catholic Church in the United States. It has been deemed by the Holy See as the Preeminent See of the United States due to the international fame and popularity of its archbishops, but the archdiocese does not enjoy any extra precedence or jurisdiction within the United States.

The Archdiocese of Chicago is one of the largest dioceses in the nation by population and is comprised of Cook and Lake counties, covering 1,411 square miles (3,653 km2) of Illinois.1 The original Diocese of Chicago was created on November 28, 1842 and was elevated to the dignity of an archdiocese on September 10, 1880. The Archbishop of Chicago concurrently serves as metropolitan bishop of the Ecclesiastical Province of Chicago, whose suffragan bishops are the bishops of Belleville, Joliet, Peoria, Rockford, and Springfield.

Holy Name Cathedral in downtown Chicago is the motherchurch of the Archdiocese of Chicago. It also has three minor basilicas, the most of any diocese in the United States: Basilica of Saint Hyacinth, Our Lady of Sorrows Basilica, Queen of All Saints Basilica. The archdiocese ministers in four languages: English, Polish, Spanish and Tagalog.


Frontier Church


French Jesuit missionary Jacques Marquette first explored the area that is now Chicago in the mid-1600s. On December 4, 1674, Marquette arrived at the mouth of the Chicago River where he built a cabin to recouperate from his travels. His cabin would become the first white settlement in the area now known as Chicago. Marquette published his survey of the new territories and soon, more French missionaries and settlers arrived. In 1795, the Potawatomi tribe signed the Treaty of Greenville that ceded to the United States a track of land at the mouth of the Chicago River. There in 1804, Fort Dearborn was erected and protected newly arrived Catholic pioneers. In 1822, Alexander Beaubien became the first person to be baptized in Chicago.

In 1833, Jesuit missionaries wrote a letter to Joseph Rosati, Bishop of Saint Louis and Vicar General of Bardstown, pleading for the appointment of a resident pastor to serve over one hundred professing Roman Catholics living in Chicago. Rosati appointed a diocesan priest, John Mary Irenaeus Saint Cyr. Saint Cyr celebrated his first mass in a log cabin owned by the Beaubien family on Lake Street, near Market Street, in 1833.

First parish

At the cost of four hundred dollars, Saint Cyr purchased a plot of land on what is now the intersection of Lake and State Streets and constructed a church building of twenty-five by thirty-five feet (8 by 11 m). It was dedicated in October 1833. The following year, the Bishop of Vincennes visited Chicago. There he found over four hundred Catholics with only one priest to serve them all. The bishop asked permission from Rosati to send Fathers Fischer, Shaefer, Saint Palais, Dupontavice and Joliet from Vincennes to tend to the needs of the Chicago region. In 1837, Saint Cyr was allowed to retire and was replaced by Chicago's first English-speaking priest, O'Meara. O'Meara moved the church built by Saint Cyr to what is now the intersection of Wabash Avenue and Madison Street. When O'Meara left Chicago, Saint Palais tore down the church and replaced it with a new brick structure.

Diocesan establishment

A meeting of Roman Catholic religious leaders, called the First Plenary Council of Baltimore, concluded that the Roman Catholic population of Chicago was growing exponentially and was in dire need for an ecclesiastical see of its own. With the consent of Pope Gregory XVI, the Diocese of Chicago was canonically erected on November 28, 1842. In 1844, William J. Quarter of Ireland was appointed as first Bishop of Chicago. Upon his arrival, Quarter summoned a synod of thirty-two Chicago priests to begin the organization of the diocese.

One of Quarter's most important achievements was the passage of an Illinois state law in 1845 that declared the Bishop of Chicago an incorporated entity, a corporation sole with power to hold real and other property in trust for religious purposes. This allowed the bishop to pursue mass construction of new churches, colleges and universities to serve the needs of Chicago's Roman Catholic faithful. After four years of service as Bishop of Chicago, Quarter died on April 10, 1848.

Archbishop of Chicago

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Even after death, Joseph Cardinal Bernardin is generally considered by laity to be one of the most popular American prelates in the history of the Roman Catholic Church in the United States.
Francis Cardinal George is the current Archbishop of Chicago.
Francis Cardinal George is the current Archbishop of Chicago.

From 1844 to 1879, the residential bishop of the Diocese of Chicago held the title Bishop of Chicago. With the elevation of the diocese to an archdiocese in 1880, the residential bishop held the title Archbishop of Chicago. Since 1915, all Archbishops of Chicago have so far been honored in consistory with the title of Cardinal Priest and membership with the College of Cardinals with responsibilities in the Roman Curia. All but two residential bishops were diocesan priests before assuming the episcopacy in Chicago. Two came from religious orders: the Society of Jesus and the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate.

Bishops of Chicago

  1. William J. Quarter (18441848)
  2. James Oliver Van de Velde, SJ (18481853)
  3. Anthony O'Regan (18541858)
  4. James Duggan (18591880)

Archbishops of Chicago

  1. Patrick Augustine Feehan (18801902)
  2. James Edward Quigley (19031915)
  3. George William Cardinal Mundelein (19151939)
  4. Samuel Alphonsus Cardinal Stritch (19391958)
  5. Albert Gregory Cardinal Meyer (19581965)
  6. John Patrick Cardinal Cody (19651982)
  7. Joseph Louis Cardinal Bernardin (19821996)
  8. Francis Eugene Cardinal George, OMI (1997Present)

Archbishop's Residence

The Archbishop's Residence at 1555 North State Parkway, a mansion listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is the official home of the Archbishop of Chicago. Built in 1885 by Patrick Augustine Feehan, first Archbishop of Chicago, the Archbishop's Residence has also served as a temporary home for the various men who assumed the Chair of Saint Peter to become popePope Pius XII, Pope Paul VI and Pope John Paul II. President of the United States Franklin Delano Roosevelt also used the Archbishop's Residence as a temporary home. Before the establishment of the Archbishop's Residence, the Bishops of Chicago were in residence at a mansion on LaSalle Street and North Avenue.

The Archbishop's Residence is Victorian with nineteen chimneys, designed by James H. Willett. The first floor consists of sitting rooms and rooms for resident priests and guests. It also houses a chapel, kitchen and dining room. The second and third floors compose the private residence of the Archbishop of Chicago, including his library and office. The building features two entry facades — designed for pedestrians and carriages. A coach house is also on the grounds.


The Office of the Archbishop of Chicago is located at the Chancery at 155 East Superior Street in downtown Chicago near the Loyola University Chicago Water Tower Campus. It is from the Chancery that the Archbishop of Chicago exercises his administrative duties as leader of the archdiocesan prelature.


The prelature of the Archdiocese of Chicago, also called its curia, is the body of administration and governance under the authority of the Archbishop of Chicago. It is led by the Vicar General who serves in a similar capacity of a prime minister. The Vicar General is a diocesan priest who has been given the ordinary executive power normally reserved for a diocesan bishop. He acts in concert with six episcopal vicars administering smaller territories of the archdiocese called vicariates.

The episcopal vicars are six auxiliary bishops in service to the Archbishop of Chicago. They are titular bishops ordained to titular sees. Each are responsible for the governance of parishes and other institutions within the six individual vicariates. In non-metropolitan prelatures, this function is served by diocesan priests.


Authority over the departments and agencies of the archdiocese is the jurisdiction of the Archbishop of Chicago. He appoints auxiliary bishops, priests and religious brothers and sisters to oversee the departments.

The departments and agencies include: Amate House, Archdiocesan Council of Catholic Women, Archives and Records, Assistance Ministry, Big Shoulders Fund, Catechesis, Catholic Cemeteries, Catholic Charities, Catholic Chaplaincy at O'Hare, Catholic Schools, Chancellor, Communications and Public Relations, Conciliation, Diaconate, Divine Worship, Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs, Evangelization and Catechesis, Family Ministries, Financial Services, Food Service Professionals, Lay Ecclesial Ministry, Lay Ecclesial Ministry Formation, Legal Services, Liturgy Training Publications, Metropolitan Tribunal, Ministerial Evaluation, Ministry in Higher Education, Office of Professional Responsibility, Office for Persons with Disabilities, On Going Formation in Ministry, Peace and Justice, Racial Justice, Research and Planning, Respect Life, Stewardship and Development, Vocations, Young Adult Ministry, Youth Ministry Office.

Ultimate spiritual leadership is invested in the Archbishop of Chicago over archdiocesan educational institutions including Saint Joseph College Seminary and the University of Saint Mary of the Lake.

See also


  1. facts of the Archdioese of Chicago (

External links


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