Pilgrimage of Sacred Spaces – Detroit – Sts Peter & Paul Jesuit Church

Sts Peter & Paul Jesuit Church

Sts. Peter & Paul Jesuit church is the oldest surviving church building in Detroit. Erected in the mid-1840’s it served as Detroit’s cathedral church for a generation. The classical style building is bright and spacious inside with Carrara marble with carved details, but the red brick exterior points back to more humble beginnings when stone was deemed too expensive. The name of Jesus, in this Society of Jesus church, is written into the frieze above the arches of the nave in 16 different languages. It signals to one and all that there is room for everyone. The gracious welcome and message at the mid-day mass only served to reinforce this impression. Later we recessed to the church hall for sandwiches where the congregations remarkable service towards the needs of the inner city came clearly into view.

Sts Peter and Paul is undoubtedly named for the two great apostles, yet the founding Bishop’s name was also Peter Paul Lefevre and when he died his remains were buried in the crypt beneath the altar. Yet in 1939 the Jesuits transferred his remains to a nearby Catholic cemetery. I do not know the official reasons given, but it seems to say with an exclamation mark that this community will not be marked by the death of a saint, but by the resurrection life of Jesus Christ whose love is the language of the parish.

One of our pilgrims, Rob Mee, a gifted musician and photographer has posted some absolutely remarkable photos of this sacred space along with the others we visited and can be viewed on his website at: https://focusonmee.com/detroit-michigan/

Grace and Peace,