Archiver > IRISH-IN-CHICAGO > 2006-08 > 1156333914

Subject: Re: Holy Family Church
Date: Wed, 23 Aug 2006 07:51:54 EDT

A little off-topic, but I was in Holy Family Church in the early 1980's
during a Chicago Ghost Tour. There are several paranormal legends associated with
the church that survived the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. Mrs. O'Leary, whose
cow is blamed for starting the fire, was a member of Holy Family Parish.

The parish and St. Ignatius School were founded in the 1850's by a Jesuit
priest, Father Arnold Damen (Damen Avenue is named for him), who reportedly
haunts the two buildings. Numerous people over the years have reported seeing a
man dressed in clerical garb wandering the halls of the school at night or
passing through the church.

Then, there is, reportedly, a ghostly apparition of a woman in white seen
around the altar (a bride?), and two different legends of altar boys. One is
that two drowned altar boys warned parishioners of Holy Family Church about the
impending fire, and the other is that Father Damen was summoned in the middle
of the night to the bedside of a dying woman to administer last rites. The two
young boys who brought the priest to the woman were her dead grandsons. At
Holy Family Church there are two carved stone altar boys to commemorate this

The best story is of the how the church survived the Great Chicago Fire of
1871, which began only a few blocks away from the parish. According to legend,
Father Damen, in Brooklyn, New York at the time of the fire, preaching a
parish mission, was advised of the danger and invoked Our Lady of Perpetual Help to
save the building. He spent the night in vigil, praying that the church be
spared. Father Damen promised if the church was spared, he would keep 7
candles burning forever in front of a picture of the Virgin Mary in the church. His
prayers were answered and the winds blew the fire towards the lake and
Chicago's business district, away from Holy Family Church. The event was dubbed the
"Miracle on Roosevelt Road," and Damen and his successors have kept his
promise. Seven lights continue to burn today in front of the picture of Our Lady of
Perpetual Help.

By the way, I didn't see any paranormal events on that ghost tour!

Kathleen Richmond
Oak Forest IL
researching FitzGibbon, Ryan, Fish, Dooling, Pinder

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