Old St. Ferdinand Shrine, with its wings, forms a group of buildings of unusual historical and architectural importance.
It is the oldest Catholic Church west of the Mississippi in the upper Louisiana Purchase Territory.
A replica of the original log church, built in 1790, is also on display in the rectory as is a collection of items from the early days of the village of St. Ferdinand, including silver religious items from the 1700s.
While the oldest part of the church was built in 1821. The bell tower and steeple were added in 1883. They are painted a moss green, a shade extensive research indicates was the original color.
A sanctuary lamp is believed to have been a gift from Penalver Cardenas, bishop of Louisiana and Florida, in 1799. It is also believed the lamp may have been used in South America before it came to St. Louis in the 1500s.
Relics of St. Valentine, thought to be a gift of the King of France to Bishop Louis DuBourg, are in a wax replica of St. Valentine below the altar.
Exceptionally beautiful stained glass windows dating from the 1800s flank the main part of the church.
The ceiling of the church is an unusual arch design uncovered when a dropped ceiling was removed during a restoration following a fire in 1966. Because of this unusual arch, the acoustics allow normal conversation to be heard in the rear of the church. Stencils on the ceiling were copied from the original design found when tin and canvas coverings were removed.
Paintings on three 1960 wood panels on either side of the altar are thought to be from the school of Reuben. During the 1966 restoration, 17 coats of varnish were removed revealing pieces of Spanish moss in an early layer leading experts to theorize the pictures came from Europe and may have been brought up the Mississippi from New Orleans by Father DeSmet or Bishop Louis DuBourg.
The crystal chandeliers hanging in the sanctuary were made by Landesman Galleries and were installed during the 1966 restoration.
All of the buildings have been listed on the National Register of Historic Places, a cultural inventory of our nation's irreplaceable resources, and form St. Ferdinand's Shrine Historic District.
The Shrine is operated and maintained by the Friends of Old St. Ferdinand, a non-profit agency.
We welcome you to Old St. Ferdinand Shrine. We know you will enjoy your visit.
Old St. Ferdinand Shrine is the oldest standing Catholic church
West of Mississippi in the Upper Louisiana Purchase Territory.
When you walk through the buildings you will be walking on the same floors, walking the same stairs and sitting in the same pews that residents in 1819 used. You will be amazed at the original condition of the Shrine Campus.
Each visit consists of an informative tour of the Church, a tour of the Convent (all three floors) which was the home of St. Philippine Duchesne for approximately 14 years, and a tour of the rectory – both floors. The tour is conducted by knowledgeable docents.
After the tour of the Church, Convent and Rectory, with time permitting, you will be able to visit the schoolhouse and enjoy our Book Fair. Also available is our Heart of the Oak Book Store. All tours take approximately one and a half hours.
There is no cost for tours, however we always accept donations. Our tours can be conducted for all ages – we give tours from first graders to senior citizens. Check the home page for more tour info.
We are also able to provide a lunch for you in the Shrine Scoolhouse. The cost of the tour and lunch is $15.00 per person. 10 person minimum per group for a served lunch.
- Please fill the form below and click the "Submit" button . We will get back with you via email or phone within 24 hours to confirm your reservation. If you do not hear from us, please call to confirm your reservation.
- Online (Click to fill out form online)
- By Mail (Click to print a form and send by mail)
Please Note: Limited Handicapped Access
The Church, the Rectory and the Convent are first floor handicapped accessible. The second and third floors are not.