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June 7, 2009

Visit area historic Catholic cemeteries

Chicago-area cemeteries are more than just places that house our beloved deceased. They also are a lens through which we can view the great history of the city and its environs. Many of them are set on beautiful grounds and make for a good place for a summertime stroll. If you go, don’t forget to pray for the holy souls and ask for their intercession.

St. Adalbert, 6800 N. Milwaukee Ave., Niles, (847) 647- 9845, est. 1872.

Largest Polish cemetery in the metropolitan area. A bronze-and granite memorial honors World War I vets. Football icon George “Papa Bear” Halas of the Chicago Bears lies here. New monument to the Polish men and women killed in the Katyn Forest was just dedicated by Polish Cardinal Josef Glemp.

Calvary, 301 Chicago Ave., Evanston, (847) 864-3050, est. 1859.

In addition to a monument for deceased priests, there is a mix of Chicago’s Catholic famous, from Colonel Mulligan of the Civil War-era Irish Brigade to Chicago mayors Edward J. Kelly and Martin Kennelly to notorious pols like Michael “Hinky Dink” Kenna. Famed White Sox owner Charlie Comiskey as well as James T. Farrell, author of “Studs Lonigan,” also sleep the good sleep here.

St. Casimir, 4401 W. 111th St. (773) 239-4422 est. 1903.

Described as a “sculpture garden” with unusual images and materials, it is the final resting place of many of Chicago’s Lithuanians.

Holy Sepulchre, 6001 W. 111th St., Alsip (708) 422-3020, est. 1923.

Probably the most famous citizens here include the late Mayor Richard J. Daley and Mary Alice Quinn, who died in 1935 at age 14. Some pilgrims to her gravesite in Section 7 claim miraculous cures, leave tokens or photos and believe they’ve seen her apparition. Even in winter, they describe an aroma of roses, reminiscent of The Little Flower’s “shower of roses,” near the Reilly family tombstone over Mary Alice’s grave. The “mystical” child revered St. Therese and said she wanted to help people after her death.

Mount Carmel, 1400 S. Wolf Road, Hillside (708) 449- 8300, est. 1901.

This mostly Italian cemetery is the site of the Archdiocese of Chicago Bishops’ Mausoleum, the resting place of Cardinals Joseph Bernardin and John Cody, Archbishops James Quigley and Patrick Feehan and Bishop William Quarter. Mount Carmel is also the last stop for gangster kingpin Al Capone and rival mobster Dion O’Bannion, gunned down in his florist shop across from Holy Name Cathedral in 1924.

Mount Olivet, 2755 W. 111th St., (773) 239-4422, est. 1885.

The Ancient Order of Hibernians have a monument here, not far from the grave of the legendary Mrs. O’Leary, whose cow was blamed, most likely wrongly, for the Great Chicago Fire of 1871.

Queen of Heaven, 1400 S. Wolf Road, Hillside (708) 449- 8300, est. 1947.

Some of the victims of the Our Lady of the Angels school fire of 1958 rest here. Site of the largest mausoleum in the country. While its neat rows of headstones record many notorious mobsters, this was also the site in 1989 of a reported apparition of the Blessed Virgin.

Resurrection, 7201 S. Archer Ave., Justice, (708) 458- 4770, est. 1904.

One of the mausoleums in this traditional Polish cemetery boasts what is among the world’s largest stained glass windows — nearly 2,300 square feet. Some of the orate gravestone statuary is striking, such as a pair of genuflecting, praying angels and the statue of Mary, Queen of Heaven, over another tomb.

Local folklore also says this is the resting place of “Resurrection Mary,” who was killed in the 1930s by a hit-and-run near the cemetery. Some people say they still see her, in white gown and dancing shoes, hitchhiking along the road.

Thanks to “Graveyards of Chicago” by Matt Hucke and Ursula Bielski (Lake Claremont Press) for information.