St. Benedict the African Roman Catholic Church
340 W. 66th St.
Belli & Belli, 1989
Five parishes were consolidated into St. Benedict the African in the 1980s. Unlike most Catholic churches in Chicago, which were built by and for European immigrants, St. Benedict was designed specifically for its predominantly African American community. The result is a Modernist church—named for a slave in 16th-century Italy who followed Francis of Assisi—that takes inspiration from the form of traditional African huts. The round nave is surmounted by a soaring arched wooden ceiling, and ample light floods in around the perimeter to sustain lush vegetation. The interior features hand-carved wooden furniture and sculpture, contemporary stained glass, a 200-pound hand-woven tapestry and other original artwork. The church's full-immersion stone baptismal pool holds 10,000 gallons of water, making it one of the nation’s largest.