History of the Church

 

The Church of St. Ita was dedicated by George Cardinal Mundelein on October 9, 1927. The Cardinal himself had suggested the architectural style, French Gothic. Father Crowe and architect Henry J. Schlacks traveled to the eastern states to study the finest examples of French Gothic architecture in this country. Some inspiration for the design of the church also came from the church of St. Brou in Bresse, France and from the Cathedral at Chartres.


Seven million pounds of stone were shipped from Bedford Indiana to build the church. Much of the stone was specially carved.The church walls are four feet thick. The tower rises to a height of120 feet from street level and contains more than 1800 tons of stone.Inside the church are beautiful stained glass windows made by Maumejean Freres of France. The windows consist of more than two hundred and twenty five thousand separate pieces of colored glass.

 

The window over the main altar depicts the Crucifixion of Christ. The first windows on the south side of the church portray incidents in the life of St. Ita. The rest depict events of the Old Testament. In the first window on the north are scenes from the life of St. Patrick while the next five reflect events of the New Testament. In the rear of the church is the sparkling rose window.


The stone for the altar was quarried in Istria at the north end of the Adriatic Sea and transported to Italy where it was carved. In the 1970s, the altar table was moved forward to conform to the liturgical directive that the priest face the people.Ten foot high fumed oak wainscoting covers the side walls and rear of the church. Set into the wainscoting are fourteen stations of the cross painted by Max Lanninger of Munich.

 

The church is 186 feet long, 70 feet wide, 95 feet in height, and seats over 700 not including the choir loft.
It is built of 42,000 cubic feet of limestone quarried at Bedford, Indiana.
Embedded in the cornerstone is a block of black stone from the ruins of theconvent founded by St. Ita in Killeedy. The inscription on the cornerstone says, in Latin:  In a spirit of deepest devotion, this stone was brought to this temple from the ruins of the monastic school in Killeedy, County Limerick, Ireland.



The church is divided into the nave and two side aisles by 10 free-standing columns. Four engaged columns in the sanctuary and two in the gallery assist in carrying the weight of the roof. The columns are also of Bedford limestone.The wainscoting, which covers the walls to a height of 10 feet, is of fumed oak. The wood preparation process requires 9 operations.The pews are also of fumed oak.The floor of the church is covered by French ceramic tile.