BookMarks

To open this beautiful book is to enter multiple, overlapping worlds: the history of a great architectural city, the history of immigration to the hub of the Midwest and, most significantly, Catholic Chicago. The city’s oldest Catholic churches were often efforts to match or surpass the grandeur of its greatest Protestant structures. Subsequent waves of building kept pace with Polish, German, Ukrainian and, most recently, Hispanic immigration. McNamara is skilled not only in presenting architectural history—a snooze for some—but also in describing how people’s theological commitments were enshrined in structures. There are even occasional notes on present-day parish life in these buildings: some have closed, have been taken over by Pentecostals, or are used by Latin-rite congregations.

 

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