Gesu Church (Milwaukee, Wisconsin)

Gesu Church (Milwaukee, Wisconsin)

Gesu Church is a Jesuit parish of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Milwaukee located in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and was designated a Milwaukee Landmark in 1975.

Through a 1991 partnership, the church ministers to the downtown campus of Marquette University and surrounding neighborhood. While considered the spiritual center of Marquette and located within the campus' urban setting, it is not technically affiliated with the university.

Description

Gesu was founded in 1849 as St. Gall's Parish. It initially served English speaking Irish Catholics from the near south and west sides of Milwaukee in what was the neighborhood of Tory Hill. As the parish grew it built Holy Name Church in 1875, and by 1887 Jesuit officials recombined the two parishes in to one church. The Gesu name was chosen in 1893 to honor the Church of the Gesu in Rome where St. Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Society of Jesus, is buried.

Architect Henry Koch designed the French Gothic building, drawing inspiration from the Cathedral of Chartres in France. It features landmark spires of unequal height and stained glass windows. The cornerstone was laid on May 23, 1893 with over 20,000 people in attendance. A dedication ceremony followed on December 17, 1894 to mark the formal completion of the church.

Actor Pat O'Brien served as an altar boy at Gesu while growing up near 13th and Clybourn streets. He attended Marquette Academy (a preparatory department which later became Marquette University High School) with Spencer Tracy, and later attended Marquette University.

Gesu Church continues to hold daily masses and attracts over 2,500 worshipers on weekends.

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