What a marvelous time partaking in the Christmas Country Church tour! This wonderful church tour was in Bollinger, Cape Girardeau, Perry and Ste Genevieve Counties in Missouri. All participants wore masks and were socially distanced. This wonderful tour allowed a view into the marvelous churches celebrating the birth of Jesus. On their brochure, they quote Luke 2:11 “Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; He is Christ the Lord!”
Two days to see
The tour took place December 17th and 18th., 2020. We arrived on Friday. I knew there was no way to see all 20 churches. So, we took Trish Ezfeld, Director of Visit Perry County‘s advice. We toured a couple church’s she thought might be special to us!
Kaskaskia Immaculate Conception
A while back we stopped at Fort Kaskaskia, but didn’t make it to Kaskaskia. To access the First Capital of Illinois we needed to enter from Missouri. This was our first stop. We found the Kaskaskia Immaculate Conception church is amazingly beautiful and historic.
Father Maquette first established this congregation near Starved Rock. As the area became crowded, they moved to serve more Native Americans. They moved to the Kaskaskia area in 1700.
I find it is fascinating to see the French influence. They have touches like the Fleur de Lis on the steps outside. Inside this beautiful church was decorated for Christmas, but the church itself is the draw. The alter is hand carved walnut. The stations of the cross date back to the 18th century.
Down from the church is the Liberty Bell of The West that King Louis XV sent in 1741. This 750 pound brass bell rang out when George Rogers Clark defeated the British in 1778. We were so glad to see this first capital of Illinois!
Altenburg is a Lutheran stronghold with a lot of history in the area. In 1838 a group of Lutherans came to America. They arrived from Germany and the story unfolds at the Lutheran Heritage Center . Here you can also see the log cabin church and museum. The log cabin was constructed in 1839 and served as the first school!
During this tour of the Heritage Museum we viewed an array of nativity scenes and trees on display.
Next door to the Heritage Center is the beautiful Trinity Lutheran Church .
This church was decorated beautifully, and our favorite item was the poinsettia tree. Down the road, is the Immanuel Lutheran Church which had the largest Christmas Tree I’ve ever seen on display in a church before!
Brazeau Presbyterian Church
The Brazeau Presbyterian Church was in the Country and quite lovely.
At the Lutheran Heritage Center we learned that the Presbyterians that arrived in the Brazeau Creek Valley in early 1819, helped save the lives of many of the German Lutherans. The Germans had nothing when they arrived. A ship carrying their provisions was lost at sea, one of the volunteers at the Lutheran Heritage Center told us.
This church that we toured was the second church built, the first was built in 1833. The church had a brick exterior with a tin interior and was built in 1851. One rather startling fact we learned was that there were slaves in the area, and they sat in the upper balcony. We were able to see where they carved their names and in one place (we were told) the date of emancipation.
National Shrine of Our Lady of The Miraculous Medal
This stunning shrine was constructed in 1929. With the rosary walk and church, this is a true church destination.
The beauty of the cathedral can’t be explained only through the written word. The Christmas decorations just added to the experience!
There were 20 churches in all. The tour started our with 24 and four churches decided not to participate. This is a wonderful way to celebrate Jesus Birth. This tour honored the Christmas season and helps support church communities at the same time with donations.
If you get a chance next year, you might want to consider touring. Keith and I loved the tour and highly recommend it!