Thursday, August 27, 2009

St. Patrick's Country Church

St. Patrick's Irish Settlement is located about 15 miles southwest of Des Moines, Iowa. You have to drive several miles of gravel road to get to this rural church.

Set among slightly rolling hills in a pasture like setting, the first thing you notice is how quiet it is. Maybe peaceful is a better word. I noticed this hitching post. There is another one on the other side of the entrance.

Unlike so many large churches, this church is very small. It is made out of wood. It is very simple in all ways.

The church itself is surrounded by wild flowers. I liked these asters.

Located behind the church is a large cemetery. Unlike many grave yards, this one is not crowded. It overlooks a river and rolling hills.

Many of the headstones are quite old.

I noticed the headstone of this young woman. She was only 23. I guess a lot of people died young in the 1800s. A lot of women died while giving birth.

Walking back towards the church it occurred to me that this church and many of these graves had been here since before the Civil War (1860-1864). It made me realize that life is fleeting and that all these people buried here had once lived and dreamed and loved and been full of life, too.

I liked this lace curtain.

What you do NOT see is any mention of Pope John Paul II's visit to this tiny church on October 4, 1979. The pope visited Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Des Moines, Chicago and Washington, D.C. in October, 1979. He came to Iowa to celebrate farming and to be in the breadbasket of the world.

The Pope actually traveled to Des Moines to say mass for over 350,000 people at Living History Farms. But he stopped at this tiny church first. My guess is he liked it.


willow said...

There's something very compelling about old churches and graveyards. Yes, this one is so very charming, I'm sure the Pope liked it very much. I had no idea he'd been to Iowa.

larkspur said...

A true gem on our beautiful Iowa landscape, Russell.

Leslie: said...

When we lived just outside of Ottawa in the mid-80s, I used to love wandering through the old graveyards and thinking about who these people were. Not so many graveyards out West or in the city.

Maureen said...

Very nice, thank you Russell.

Marge said...

When I was growing up in northeastern Iowa, my favorite place to play was in the church graveyard just a short distance away from the parsonage where we lived. We'd take our peanut butter sandwiches and Watkins orange drink and have picnics on the little hill, under the trees, next to the little lamb headstone of a child who died too young. I still remember the silence, broken only by the birds singing, and the insects buzzing. Loved my childhood in Iowa!

Jo said...

What a pretty little church. It reminds me of the Anglican Church I used to go to with my grandfather, when I was a little girl. We had to walk through his apple orchard to get there. I would imagine the Pope loved this little church when he visited.

I noticed the hand pointing towards Heaven on the young woman's grave. And I like the stone angel just behind her.

When I was a little girl, my father and I used to walk through cemeteries and read the headstones. I was only about four or five, but I remember thinking even then, that these were people who once lived and breathed and walked the earth.

Small City Scenes said...

I love the looks of the older churches. The community surrounded the church and stayed for eternal visitation in the cemetary.
I bet the Pope loved his visit.

I have taken many pics of the older (and some newer) churches out this way. Some (and some sent to me) I have on my 'Holy Houses' blog. MB

Boise Diva said...

Another group tour from Russell! Thank you!