Founded in 1841, St. Francis Xavier is a spirit-filled faith community that draws from over 70 zip codes in the St. Louis area. Located on Saint Louis University’s campus, the College Church is known for its joyful liturgies, beautiful worship space and service to the poor of the city.
St. Francis Xavier College Church, which began in downtown St. Louis, was built for the growing Irish community that was coming into the city in the 1830s. It was the first English-speaking parish in the city and the second Catholic church to be opened for public services.
The church was built with the St. Louis College buildings, garnering the nickname College Church, which it has kept ever since. As the city moved west, Saint Louis University decided to move with it. In 1867, property was purchased as a new site for the university, and in 1879, Archbishop Kenrick gave the Jesuits permission to build a new church on the site.
The Jesuit Fathers envisioned a church that would be a significant statement about the Catholic community in St. Louis. Construction of the new church finished in 1914 with the completion of the steeple, which was designed to be tall and impressive so that it could be seen throughout the city.
St. Francis Xavier College Church is open and inviting, a center not only for celebrations of sacramental mysteries, but also a place where the arts and university events are at home and an oasis and sign of hope to the poor and homeless.
Photo by Pedro Szekely, via Flickr (http://www.flickr.com/photos/pedrosz/5078778554/).