Friday, April 06, 2007

St. Ignatius Mission

Forty miles north of Missoula, Montana, off of highway 93, is the home of the St. Ignatius Mission. On my Road Trip 2006 we went to the town of St. Ignatius just to see the inside of this beautiful, historic church. My friends husband had been there before years ago and told us we had to see it. Not being Catholic, did not matter, he said. It was late fall and we had the place to ourselves. There was an honor system inside for donations and postcard fees but always open and unlocked to the public during the day.
I felt like I was walking into the Sistine Chapel though I have never been there. Coincidently, while I was there, my sister was in Italy, at the Sistine Chapel. Only she wasn't allowed to take pictures while I snapped away.
The history is quite a story. The mission cook painted the 58 murals on the ceiling and walls. This gifted man was Brother Joseph Carignano (1853-1919), an Italian Jesuit who served the mission as cook and handyman. Although he had no formal training in art, he undertook to paint the church with murals of scenes from the Old and New Testaments, as well as paintings of some of the saints. When you stand inside the church, it is extremely difficult to believe that this was done by an amateur who painted in what little time he could spare from his primary duties as a cook and a custodian.
It was worth the side trip and I was very happy I got to see the St. Ignatius Mission. From there we headed to the National Bison Range.

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