CHICAGO, IL – For a 3rd year in a row, the Shrine of Christ the King had the great honor and pleasure of participating in the Chicago Architecture Foundation’s Open House Chicago (OHC) – “a free public festival that offers behind-the-scenes access to more than 200 buildings across Chicago.” Last weekend’s 2-day event brought over 1,100 visitors to the Shrine. Open House Chicago participants enjoyed a (free!) hard hat tour of the Shrine, Chicago’s Historic Landmark. Volunteers guided partakers through the currently gutted shell of a church after its devastating October 2015 four-alarm fire. OHC visitors were able to watch a video published by the Save the Shrine Coalition (made up of members of the community and of various historical preservation organizations), see pictures of the Shrine’s previous glory and extensive history, receive an inside look of the current restoration efforts and view elaborate plans illustrating the future of the Shrine – restoring it to its former beauty!
In addition to the Shrine as one of the 216 locations which participated in Open House Chicago, the home of the “Upper Room”, 1st Presbyterian Church of Chicago, was featured and open to the public. Receiving over 650 visitors, “Upper Room” guests could see firsthand a gym that was beautifully transformed into an intimate chapel. One viewer noted, “basketball court lines are still visible on the floor of the gym…[where a Church] took up residence since [October 2015] fire.” The transformation is testament to the hard work of volunteers, the Shrine community and faithful, and the generosity of local neighbors. After taking in the splendor of the “Upper Room,” people observed the newly restored historic Infant King statue which was amazingly saved from last year’s fire by the local Chicago Fire Department. The statue, which returned earlier this month, was above the altar for all to see and marvel in its beauty and antiquity.
Through hashtags such as #SeeTheShrine and #OHC2016, visitors were able the share their personal experiences through social media via Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Well over 300 photos were posted about the Shrine through these outlets. People were enthralled by their unique experiences of visiting a church which had recently been devastated and the inside eviscerated. One photographer shared his experience and feelings online writing, “I am finding it difficult to express how I felt standing there in the middle of the Shrine this morning. It was as though I was walking through ancient ruins, but at the same time I was awestruck at how much of the structure survived the conflagration. It was more than just a spiritual feeling, especially being a Catholic myself. Rather, it felt empowering, knowing that even in the face of the worst of catastrophes, we can still stand tall and hold firm our ground, to endure and go on, to not only recover but soar high from the ashes.” This testimony sums up the reactions from most all 1,700+ visitors who passed through both the Shrine and the “Upper Room” last weekend.
The Shrine of Christ the King is extremely grateful to the Chicago Architecture Foundation for selecting the Shrine and its “Upper Room” to participate in such an extraordinary event! Being able to share Chicago’s Historic Landmark gem with visitors from around the world was truly an honor and delight.
See all the photos taken by participants of Open House Chicago!
View some of the Shrine’s Photos!!