In our art there is a record of our beauty and value. We bring and leave it here in order that our church may be assisted in her ministry by a fully grown, functioning, willing and able community who sees Jesus in the center of the circle we make whole and unbroken.

Church Architecture

The church building was designed by the renowned architectural firm of Belli & Belli and is one of the very few Catholic churches built in Chicago to serve a predominately African American community. Upon entering the church building one begins to to catch a glimpse of the many surprises inside. Several artistic renderings in sculpted wood, stained glass and original art work welcome and draw one into the building.

This is probably the most striking feature of our church. It is in the tradition of the first churches that were built, where the immersion pool was in the back of the building to remind people that it is through the waters of Baptism that one enters the community of believers, and their house of worship. Baptism by immersion was the first way that Christians did baptisms.

Because they were located in a relatively warm climate, the problem of water that was too cold never became an issue. It was only after the movement expanded north into colder climates, that the difficulties of baptism by immersion became issues, and the resolution of those issues was to allow for pouring water to count for baptism.

Our baptismal pool has water that flows down the stones that form the sides of our pool. This symbol of flowing or living water is thereby made more obvious for us. With life there is motion. The waters of baptism move across the stones; they refresh the stones just as the waters of baptism refresh and give life to each and every person who is baptized.

The stones also serve to remind us of the natural world around us, which was created by our loving God and entrusted to our care. The immersion pool forms a substantial body of water. This serves to remind us of God’s immense generosity. God does not do things in a small way. Great is God’s love. Great is God’s tenderness. Great are God’s blessings to us. Great should be our gratitude. Great should be our love. Great should be our service to each other.

The Baptismal Pool is placed where it is, so that we are constantly being reminded of the Sacrament of Baptism. Particularly when we come into church, as we pass through the flowing waters, we are to remember that water once flowed over our heads and we were brought into the community of faith.

Church Art

Throughout the building are various stained glass windows crafted by the internationally known designer and artist David Lee Csicsko, as well as inspired wood works of Jerzy Kenar, and magnificent depictions of black life by Jan Spivey-Gilchrist.

Ann and Arthur Eiland Art Gallery and Collection

Artistic picture portrait of Ann and Arthur Eiland
Photo by A. Villaverde

Ann and Arthur Eiland represent an honorable group of people who pushed past the racist borders in order to accept the invitation of Jesus to be in the house and Family of God. We must not fail to recognize that the faith of these children, whose faith was greater than the fear and hatred of people who challenge the heart of Jesus, carries us in this life and the next one. This gallery will continue to challenge us to walk by faith, not by fear, on our way to church, on our way to heaven.

The Ann and Arthur Eiland Art Gallery and Collection continues the long standing work of the church that promotes the arts and values the artists as a necessary part of the community. It honors the thirty-year history of St. Benedict the African Parish commissioning and collecting works of art.

Art News

Eiland Art Gallery Dedicated by Bishop

April 7, 2019

On the celebration of the feast day of Saint Benedict the African, April 7, 2019, Bishop Perry dedicated the Ann and Arthur Eiland Art Gallery and Collection.

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Saint Benedict the African Parish
340 W 66th Street
Chicago, IL 60621