Latest Updates

Bell Tower Campaign

Dear Friends and Donors of the Shrine,

We are launching a mini campaign to fix the Shrine’s bell tower as a preliminary step in the repair of the roof. The engineering evaluation discovered two of the lintels (reinforced concrete crossbeams) of the tower were seriously damaged by the fire, and these must be repaired before the new steel trusses can be attached to the tower. In addition to being an essential part of the roof’s support system, the bell tower belongs to the last Catholic church in Woodlawn, and is a symbolic beacon of hope in the south side of Chicago.

The total cost of the bell tower repair will be $200,000, and we aim to raise at least $50,000 of this total via

No mother or father in this world would want their home to be without a roof, and this is how the Shrine community feels towards their fire-ravaged spiritual home in the Woodlawn neighborhood. We all know what a harsh Chicago winter will mean for the Shrine: the cold winds will blow through the interior of the church, the snow will drift through the open roof, and freezing temperatures will surely wreak havoc on vulnerable architectural elements.

Weather permitting, the roof repair will begin by March, which means the bell tower must be stabilized before then. Please help us raise what we need to fix the lintels so we can put a roof on our home as soon as possible. Every penny we raise on GoFundMe from now until Christmas will be directed towards this mini campaign.

May God reward you for your generosity! Every week you and your intentions are remembered at a special Mass offered by the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest.

Helical Anchor Testing

CHICAGO, IL – Helical anchor testing was done today at the Shrine of Christ the King. During the façade masonry investigation, it was discovered that the metal anchors that hold up the exterior limestone are rusted. Helical anchors will be installed from the inside masonry to hold the limestone. Today the product representative was out to do strength testing on the masonry. This testing is to insure that the existing masonry construction has the strength needed to support the anchors and hold the limestone. The test results were positive.

Removal of Plaster Frieze

CHICAGO, IL – Demolition is being done to the plaster frieze and it is being removed so that there is clear access to the steel. During this demolition any larger pieces of plaster detail that can be saved are being salvaged, but the majority of the plaster is saturated with water and is deteriorating.


Open House Chicago at the Shrine & “Upper Room”

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!

OHC Participants enjoy a hard hat tour

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.

A Visitor Reads about the Historic Infant King Statue in the “Upper Room”

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.

Visitor Photographs the Shrine

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.

Shrine Facade with OHC Sign
Shrine Facade with OHC Sign

See all the photos taken by participants of Open House Chicago!




View some of the Shrine’s Photos!!

Onsite Work Continues!

CHICAGO, IL: BJRJ started the select demolition of the interior walls today. This demolition will provide access to the steel. No worries on the removal of the plaster and the loss of details though. The interior has been scanned and all plaster details have been digitally saved!


Scanning of the Shrine!

CHICAGO, IL – Today, a company called DLZ set up digital scanning equipment and scanned the interior of the Shrine. This scanning process creates a digital image of the interior that will be modeled and then that model can be used to recreate the plaster moldings and reliefs.

The existing plaster details are damaged beyond salvage due to being exposed to the elements. This scanning process is capturing the image of the details so that they can be recreated later in the design process.


Generous Donations!

Dear Donors,

Last week we set a goal of $10,000 to cover the restoration costs of the Infant King statue and its new portable baldacchino by October 7, the first anniversary of the fire. We are deeply thankful for the donations, large and small, which have since come in through the GoFundMe site and directly to the Shrine. Today we are glad and grateful to report exciting news! The total goal amount of $10,000 has already been met on Sunday, September 25. Thanks be to God!

During the days which remain until the fire anniversary, may we ask you and your friends to help us put a roof over the head of our Infant King? Thanks to your generosity, we have now raised about $1.5 million toward rebuilding the new roof—that’s over 50% of our $2.8 million goal!

With deep appreciation, the Shrine priests offer Holy Mass each week for the intentions of you dear benefactors. Let us be confident in the words of Christ Child to Venerable Father Cyril: “The more you honor Me, the more I will bless you!”

Return of the King!!

CHICAGO, IL – The restored Infant King statue is returning to Woodlawn! The iconic 18th-Century Spanish wooden statue of the Infant King, crowned by His Eminence, Francis Cardinal George at the Shrine in 2007, and an object of veneration by devotees from around the country ever since, was damaged in the fire of October 7. Despite the fire, water, and smoke, the statue remained standing in its usual place above the altar, even as much of the roof overhead burned and collapsed. Many hearts were amazed and overjoyed when firefighters carried the statue out of the smoldering church.

Even though it was spared from total destruction, the statue nevertheless sustained extensive heat and smoke damage. In addition to the damaged finish of the wood, its hand was broken in the fire. After the Shrine was given to the Institute in February, the statue was sent to a specialized restorer in Germany, where its total restoration was completed over a six month period.

Throughout the fire and its aftermath, the rescued statue was a poignant symbol of hope for the Shrine community, and an encouragement to persevere in restoring the Shrine as the home of the Infant King. On the first anniversary of the fire, on October 8, the restored Infant King statue returns to the Shrine community, once again as a symbol of hope, fortitude, perseverance, and the compassion of Jesus Christ, Our King.

The total cost of restoring the Infant King statue and the acquisition of a new portable baldachino (to allow a more secure and more frequent presentation of this antique piece in processions), is close to $10,000. What a testimony of love and devotion it would be if we could raise this amount by October 8, the day we welcome back the restored statue to the Shrine! Please help us by making a donation to the Shrine’s restoration fund. Every dollar collected from this day forward will be applied to the restoration cost of the statue!

Building Permit Issued!!

CHICAGO, IL – It is with great joy and prayerful thanksgiving that we announce the Institute of Christ the King’s Shrine and Raffin Construction Company have received the Roof Replacement Structure building permit from the City of Chicago’s Department of Buildings!

The description of permitted work is as follows: “Remove existing fire damaged roof structure and install new roof structure matching original landmark building structure as per plans.”


SGH’s Façade1 Restoration Investigation Report

CHICAGO, IL – Simpson Gumpertz & Heger, SGH, has provided a draft report investigating the façade1 conditions for the Shrine of Christ the King church: Façade Restoration Investigation. The ninety-two page report goes into great detail of the existing conditions with photo documentation. This report encompasses the original drawing review and field investigation that concludes to recommendations of work to be done.

The recommended scope of work can be broken down into three parts:

1) Stabilization Repairs are limestone and brick masonry repairs that need to be done to steady the structure. These conservations will be done as part of the roof replacement project.

2) Water Infiltration Repairs deal with providing a weather tight structure and include roof gutters, site drainage, limestone, windows and doors.

3) Façade1 Restoration is all other maintenance projects to the limestone, brick and concrete that are not critical to structure or weather.

The division of the scope into three parts helps with spreading the cost over the Phases of the project. Below are excerpts from the report.  

1 Façade is not just the front entrance to the church (the west wall) but the whole building.