Archiver > IRISH-IN-CHICAGO > 2006-08 > 1156354136

From: Nan Brennan <>
Subject: Re: [Irish in Chicago] Re: Holy Family Church
Date: Wed, 23 Aug 2006 12:28:56 -0500
References: <>
In-Reply-To: <>

I enjoyed this story, thanks for sharing it.
I was at mass there within the past year and the church was packed,
standing room only.
Is Holy Family the church that Phil Corboy (famous Chicago PI
attorney) led the effort to save or was that one of the other old
west side parishes.


On Aug 23, 2006, at 6:51 AM, wrote:

> 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
> occurrence.
> 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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