The country’s ‘most beautiful’ church

By Michelle Martin
Sunday, May 1, 2016

It’s official; St. John Cantius is the most beautiful Catholic Church in the country.

Or at least it got the most clicks in an online “Church Madness” event set up like an NCAA basketball tournament bracket, besting Salt Lake City’s Cathedral of the Madeleine in the final by 181 votes on April 17.

That’s a margin of 181 votes out of 16,363 cast, meaning St. John Cantius, 825 N. Carpenter St., won with 50.6 percent of the vote.

“There was definitely some political campaigning going on,” said Patrick Murray, who created Church Madness on his blog, artandliturgy.com. “That’s the nature of an online poll.”

In a story on St. John Cantius’ website about the poll, the pastor, Resurrectionist Father C. Frank Phillips is quoted as thanking all those who supported the parish, “especially those who voted the Chicago way.”

The Salt Lake City cathedral got social media support from Santa Fe Archbishop John Wester, who tweeted that “the southwest is pulling for Cathedral of the Madeleine!” and the Diocese of Salt Lake City reached out to local television stations to publicize its cathedral’s involvement.

St. John Cantius got support from its strong social media network. (Full disclosure: The Catholic New World tweeted to urge followers to vote for St. John Cantius. Several times.)

He acknowledges — as St. John Cantius did in a tweet after winning the “churchpionship” — that it might not even be the most beautiful church in Chicago.

St. John Cantius’ web post at www.cantius. org about the contest says it’s “only the tip of the iceberg” when it comes to beautiful Chicago churches.

Murray said in a post that until he started the bracket, his blog got about 10 hits a day, and “I think nine of them were from my mom.” The Des Plaines native started the blog after joining Granda Liturgical Arts as an Omaha-based project consultant in September.

He wanted to blog about art and liturgy “for normal people,” he said, and spotlight some of the interesting and beautiful churches he came across in his personal and work-related travels.

“This was a way to spotlight 64 at once,” he said.

He was familiar with St. John Cantius because it was the church his parents attended when he would visit them as a young adult. Other participating churches were suggested by friends and family, or he found them online.


  • st. john cantius
  • architecture
  • art

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