Copyright © 2011 Deborah M. Zajac. All Rights Reserved.
I had read about this mission and wanted to visit it while on my July trip to Whitefish, Mt. It’s only 1.5 hours to the east of where I was staying. When planning things to do with my friend Big Jay who wouldn’t be doing the steep hikes with me I thought this would be a great outing, and we could continue our Mission series that we’d started in Northern California. When I suggested it I delighted that he was interested, and game to go.
The most striking thing to me about this Mission is how different its exterior structure is from the Missions of California. This one is made of brick and mortar, and has the familiar look of a mid-sized Catholic Church , and has no inner courtyard, and large garden verses the Missions in California that are made of Adobe or stucco, with wood beams, and the familiar Spanish arches, and an inner courtyard with a fountain.
Their small garden has a statue of Christ carved by Fr. Anthony Ravalli, S. J. believed to be done during his stay in St. Ignatius in 1863. The statue is next to the Original Log Cabin. The first home of the Jesuit missionaries, built in 1854. Today it’s a museum with a collection of artifacts from various tribes of the Northwest. The clothes, and dolls kept me occupied for sometime. There are several old photographs of the local Indians that would come to the Mission. The man in office was very friendly and shared some facts and stories with us about the Mission.
The chapel is wonderful. The colors are soft and peaceful, and the Frescoes are outstanding in their workmanship, and artistry. There are 58 murals, painted in the early 20th century by artist Brother Joseph Carignano (1853-1919), an Italian Jesuit. He was a cook, and handyman at the Mission. He had no professional training in art.
The paintings depict scenes from the Old and New Testaments, as well as some saints. Below you see most of the Frescoes that are painted on the North and South walls, and the Triptych in the Sanctuary which tells the story of “The Three Visions of St. Ignatius Loyola” the founder of the Mission. To the right of the Triptych is a large Fresco titled, ” St. Joseph and Jesus, and the large Fresco on the left of the Triptych is titled, ” The Immaculate Conception.
Below is a piece of statuary that rests next to the Altar, and behind it one part of the Triptych in the Sanctuary by artist Brother Joseph Carignano (1853-1919), to the left of that are two smaller round Frescoes, the lower one is “Jesus the Bread of Life”, and the one above it is “St. Luke Evangelist”.
Below in the foreground is the Altar with the depiction of “The Last Supper”. I really like the soft pastel color palette, and ornate wood carvings that frame it. Behind the Altar another view of the Triptych, and to the right the small round Fresco is “St. Peter the Apostle”.
The Fresco above the Triptych is titled “The Last Judgement”. To the right of it is a round Fresco titled “Moses receives the Ten Commandments on Mt. Sinai”,and to the left is a Fresco called “Manna and Water in the Desert”.
I shot the whole interior in Natural Light. None of the lights were on inside the chapel except those that lit the Triptych. I thoroughly enjoyed visiting this Mission. I would love to come back and visit it again. If you happen to be passing near here it makes a wonderful side trip.
For the Historians:
Mission St Ignatius, St Ignatius, Montana, USA
St. Ignatius Mission is in Mission Valley on the Flathead Indian Reservation in Western Montana, about forty miles north of Missoula. It is bounded by the Mission Mountains to the east, and the hills of the National Bison Range to the west.
The Mission and the town that grew up around it were founded in 1854 by Jesuit missionaries and named for their founder, St Ignatius Loyola.
The present day brick church was built in 1891 and is now a National Historic Site, along with two small cabins, the original homes of the Jesuit Fathers and Providence Sisters, and the present rectory. The church took 2 years to build. The Indians, and missionaries together built the church of bricks made from local clay, and trees cut in the foothills, and sawed at the Mission Mill.
The building measures 120 feet by 60 feet with a belfry reaching nearly 100 feet.
The majority of the facts and figures I gleaned from a pamphlet I purchased while at the Mission.
Nikon D90| Nikkor 17-35mm lens| Benro C1691 tripod| release cable