The town of Teutopolis, Illinois was founded by German Catholic immigrants for the express purpose of securing for the pioneers the precious gift of faith. Soon after the first settlers arrived, the first log church was constructed and named St. Peter’s.
Some 12 years later, the decision was made to replace the log cabin church and build a brick church on lots along the National Road. The stones used for the foundation of the church were intended for the construction of the National Road, on which years before, the work had been suspended.
In 1858, Franciscan priests from Germany arrived in Teutopolis to serve the German people. The monastery (their living quarters) was completed after they arrived and additions were added in years following, up to the early 1900’s.
In 1860, St. Peter’s Church was renamed St. Francis of Assisi Church.
These Franciscans saw a need for furthering the education of young men and so built St. Joseph’s College a block south of the National Road, which opened in 1862. Through the years it grew and later became St. Joseph’s Seminary.
In 1901 to 1912, a major renovation was undertaken in the church. The high steeple and present high altar were erected along with architectural changes inside the church. Stained glass windows depicting the principal events in the life of St. Francis were installed in 1923.
The church was redecorated again in the years of 1950 and 1975.
The novitiate in the monastery/church building and the seminary were vacated when the Franciscans moved their facilities to the Chicago area in the mid 1960’s. The seminary was torn down and all that remains is the “memorial tower,” which was the main entrance to the seminary.
In 1975, the Teutopolis Monastery Museum was founded in the 30 plus cells (bedrooms) of the novices. The museum is located in the south section of the monastery/church building and was founded as a memorial to the members of the Franciscan Order and to the early pioneers who settled the Teutopolis community. Early Teutopolis history and the history of the Franciscan friars in Teutopolis are closely intertwined and still remains so today.
In 2005, St. Francis Church underwent a major renovation. The 1,100 plus families and the Franciscan Friars are inspired and edified to worship in this beautiful house of God and are grateful to God for all His blessings through the years.
(Some info taken from the 1926 Diamond Jubilee Book.)