St. Francis D'Assisi Catholic Church
Dedicated 1903

 
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The present church located on the Northeast corner of Wesson and Buchanan was designed by Kastler and Hunter.   The corner stone was laid in 1903 and completed in 1905.  The church is 230 ft long and 123 ft wide, it has the capacity to seat 1,700 people. It is constructed of Malvern brick with carved Bedford trim.  The cost of construction was $150,000 dollars (Approximately 2 million 1998 dollars) The style of the church is Italian Renaissance.  It was the second Polish Parish on Detroit's booming west side.

When you approach the building you cannot help but marvel at the craftsmanship and detail that has gone into the church.   Ornate Corinthian columns grace the facade.  They hold up a triumphal arch with trumpeting angles, all framing the great west window and main entrance.  Great carvings of laurels frame small rose windows in the church towers below are the old side entrances that once opened to the choir loft and bell ringerís room.

            

Three very unique carvings are found on the front facade of the church. 

To the left of the main entrance is Michael the Archangel, the heraldic symbol of White Russia land once under Polish rule. On the right is the Knight of Lithuania a heraldic symbol of the Lithuanian lands that once were part of Poland.

The last symbol is the White Eagle of Poland herself.  A symbol long associated with Polish statehood.

The three symbols are a recurring motif found in many Polish churches of that time. (St. Albertus, in a mural above the right altar, Sweetest Heart of Mary,  the great rose window)  They are relics of the January 1863 uprising of Poland against the partitioning powers (Austria, Prussia, and Russia). The Revolutionary Government of the Polish uprising used the symbols as a rallying point.  When they are together the symbols meant the hope of the reuniting of the partitioned Poland to its former glory. Given Polish nationalism it would only seem proper to display such symbols.

You enter the church thru a two sets of massive oak doors. The ample vestibule, with rich oak panels and mosaic tile floor. A second set of oak doors lead you into the church.  Here you are greeted by a harmonious mix of light, color and texture.  The vaulted ceiling is supported by a row of arch columns. Cut into the vaulted ceiling are small stained glass windows which include a symbol of the church or one of the sacraments. The ceiling contains medallions of Christ at the center on the church, followed by the four evangelists and then the twelve apostles.

 

The eastern apse is curved and contains copies of Raphael's Ascension, and Murrilo's Immaculate Conception.

The main altar rises from the floor of the sanctuary to just inside the curve of the ceiling.

Everywhere you look inside of the church an image of an angel can be found.   From the four larger than life holding up the roof. To the small cherubs found in the ceilings where the lights come down. Even the lighting fixtures are adorned with angels.

 

 

On a sunny day the stained glass windows (Contructed by the Detroit Stained Glass Works 1861-1970, all of the main floor windows depict scenes from the lift of the Blessed Mother) of the church are ablaze with color and detail.  The windows were made at the Detroit Stained Works.  The windows depict scenes from the life of the Blessed Mother. Two rose windows one on  the south, depict the Sacred Heart of Jesus and symbols of his passion and death. The north window is the Immaculate Heart of Mary and the symbols of the seven sorrows.

The main altar's prime focus is St. Francis helping the crucified Christ. Other images found on the main altar are the four evangelists, right above the altar table.  St. Peter and St. Paul on the next level up.  Three medallions are on the altar the center and highest is the face of God the Father.   With St. Augustine on the left and St. Gregory the Great on the right.  At the top inside the copula of the altar is St. Michael the Archangel.  All were picked to reinforce the teaching authority of the church.

On the left of the main altar is St. Valentine, Sacred Heart of Jesus, and St. Stanislaus.  Further down the church is St. Anne and St. Anthony of Padua.  To the right of the main altar is St. Rose, the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and St. Hedwig. Further down the church is St. Jude, St. Therese the little flower and St. Joseph.

 

 

 

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