Filed Under Religion

Shrine Church of Saint Stanislaus

The Shrine Church of Saint Stanislaus is dedicated to St. Stanislaus, the bishop, martyr, and patron of Poland. It represents the history of the Polish community in Cleveland, Ohio since the mid 1800s. Cleveland's Bishop asked the Pastor of St. Adalbert in Berea to 'gather and care' for the Poles in Cleveland and Newburg who were living in the Flats and worshiping at the abandoned St. Mary church.

By the 1870s, the community grew rapidly as Amasa Stone sought to solve a labor dispute by recruiting workers from Poland to staff his Newburg Rolling Mill. Community members soon built the first Saint Stanislaus church on its present site on East 65th Street in 1882. This structure was replaced in the 1890s with a large brick Gothic cruciform design with two magnificent spires. The spires were toppled in an April, 1909 tornado that killed seven people in the neighborhood. The interior of the church remained intact with nearly two dozen stained glass windows, several statues, frescoed walls, and plaster engravings. Forty rows of hand-rubbed red oak pews and a wood carved pulpit adorn the nave of the church.

The parish and schools grew to serve the Polish community with elementary and high school programs which included language and culture instruction. The high school program merged with three other Cleveland Catholic schools to form Cleveland Central Catholic in 1969. The school remains in operation today.

St. Stanislaus remains the center of the Polish community in greater Cleveland. It hosts many events celebrating new and old world Polish achievements. Most notably, Cardinal Karol Wojtyla, later to be Pope John Paul II, visited the church in 1969 to present relics of St. Stanislaus as a gift from Poland in thanks for Cleveland's consistent support. Solidarity leader Lech Walesa also visited in 2004.

Audio

The founding of Saint Stanislaus Parish Rob Jagelewski, Saint Stanislaus historian and usher, describes the early history of the church and parish. Source: Cleveland Regional Oral History Collection
Cardinal Karol Józef Wojtyła visited Saint Stanislaus in 1969. Rob tells the story of the Cardinal's visit and his relationship with the Cleveland Polish community and their church. Source: Cleveland Regional Oral History Collection
The Church Tabernacle Rob Jagelewski describes the tabernacle crafted by a Franciscan brother at Saint Stanislaus. Source: Cleveland Regional Oral History Collection
Leon Frank Czolgosz Leon briefly belonged to the Saint Stanislaus parish, but denied his connection when the church Pastor came collecting. Source: Cleveland Regional Oral History Collection

Images

St. Stanislaus Postcard This postcard rendering of the church in the evening depicts the brick structure and a view of the spires as originally built in Gothic style. Image courtesy of Cleveland State University Michael Schwartz Library, Special Collections.
St. Stanislaus Church Shrine The original structure had two tall spires containing the church bells. A severe windstorm in April, 1909 toppled the spires to the level of the brickwork. Image courtesy of Cleveland State University Michael Schwartz Library, Special Collections.
Facade of St. Stanislaus The church was restored without its spires within one year of the storm damage. The pastor had followed advice to obtain tornado insurance which aided the speedy restoration. Image courtesy of Cleveland State University Michael Schwartz Library, Special Collections.
"St. Stan's Bells". April 9, 1909 The debris from storm damage lies next to the church building including one of the bells from the towers. The storm resulted in seven deaths and significant damage to several buildings in the neighborhood. Image courtesy of Cleveland State University Michael Schwartz Library, Special Collections.
Church Ceiling The vaulted ceiling spans 30 feet across the nave of the church. Space above the ceiling houses rooms for storage. A new light weight design enabled the construction of a higher ceiling. The interior was totally renovated in 1998. Image courtesy of Cleveland State University Center for Public History and Digital Humanities.
Relic Altar During a visit in 1969, Cardinal Karol Wojtyla (later Pope John Paul II), the bishop of Krakow presented relics of St. Stanislaus to the congregation in Cleveland. He thanked them for their continued support of Poland during and after World War II. The pope's mitre is encased in the foreground of this photograph. Image courtesy of Cleveland State University Center for Public History and Digital Humanities.
Saint Joseph Side Altar Each altar contains statues honoring saints and angels housed in the hand carved altar structure. Relics of St. Clare, St. Anthony, and St. Francis are enshrined in this altar. Image courtesy of Cleveland State University Center for Public History and Digital Humanities.
Main Entrance to the Shrine The front entrance way provides a view of one of many stained glass windows adorning the church. The windows were designed in Vienna, Austria and depict the apostles, saints, and events of the Church in Poland. Image courtesy of the Center for Public History and Digital Humanities.
Main Altar The main altar is primarily hand carved wood and contains the statues of nine saints including Stanislaus atop the carvings. Tabernacle decorations were crafted by a Franciscan Brother who reclaimed silver from spent flash bulbs. Image courtesy of Cleveland State University Center for Public History and Digital Humanities.

Location

3649 E 65th St, Cleveland, OH 44105

Metadata

“Shrine Church of Saint Stanislaus,” Cleveland Historical, accessed June 30, 2022, https://clevelandhistorical.org/items/show/421.