Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Immaculate Conception Catholic Church

1314 Lynn Avenue, Pawhuska, OK
Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Pawhuska, Oklahoma is known by many as "The Cathedral of the Osage." Perhaps it has been given this title not only because of its large cathedral-like appearance, but also because of its importance in the life and history of the Osage.

It was in 1673 that Father Jacques Marquette, the great French missionary and explorer, came unexpectedly upon a band of Osage Indians in what is now the state of Missouri. In the years that followed, many other Jesuit missionaries, known as "black robes", visited the Osage villages, introducing them to the Christian Faith.

In 1847, Father John Shoenmakers established a permanent mission and schools for the Osage at what is now St. Paul's, Kansas. Known as the "Apostle to the Osage," Father Shoenmakers worked for some 36 years among the Osage until his death in 1883. By that time the Osage had been moved southward into Indian Territory or what is now Osage County in the State of Oklahoma.

Immaculate Conception Catholic Church was established in 1887 to serve the Osage Catholics of Pawhuska. The present Gothic-Style brick church is the third church built by the parish. Begun in 1910, it was not completed until 1915.

The original plans for the church was to have large stained glass windows, but the First World War delayed those plans. The windows, built by craftsmen in Munich, had to survive WW I before being shipped to Pawhuska in 1919. Twenty-two windows made in Munich, Germany adorn the walls of the church today. Two large windows on opposite ends of the transept measure 9 feet across and soar 36 feet high.

The north transept window is known as the "Osage Window." It depicts the early missionary Father Shonmakers with a band of Osage in authentic Osage dress. The window on the south transept depics Christopher Columbus and the Spaniards firs encounter with the Native Americans. Other windows depict Biblical figures and scenes. Pope Benedict XV granted a special request for Osages to be immortalized in the windows. Only bible scenes are portrayed in Catholic Church windows and Pawhuska’s Catholic Church is the only church in the world to have anything different. To view more of the magnificent stained glass windows, look HERE.

The quality and beauty of these windows has been widely praised. Their artistry and detail is truly exceptional. Each year visitors of all faiths visit Immaculate Conception as a historical monument of the Osage, and to view its beautiful windows and interior. Today, Immaculate Conception continues as a living and active parish of 140 families, most of whom are Osage.

In looking for information for this post I ran onto some interesting things. If you find the history of these people intriguing you will enjoy the Osage News. Look HERE.