Visitors Guide to the
Holy Family Parish Log Church

116 Church Street
Cahokia, Illinois

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The Holy Family Parish Log Church in Cahokia, Illinois is the oldest continuously sited church in the state of Illinois. The Holy Family Parish is the second oldest Catholic Parish in the state being established in May of 1699 when the French priest Father Jean St. Cosme and two workmen erected a missionary cross, a chapel and a log rectory. The original log church built by Father St. Cosme was destroyed by a fire in the 1730's and the subsequent church was also destroyed by fire in 1783. Only a bell suspended from a tree in the churchyard, a missal printed in 1683, a monstrance made in 1717, a chalice, and a paten were saved from the 1783 fire. Pope John Paul II used the chalice in his Mass when he visited St. Louis in 1999.

Construction on the present church, with a capacity of over 100 people, was begun shortly afterward but it was not until 1799 that the Church was dedicated. The church's construction is typical of the French Creole architecture of the era. Built in the poteaux-sur-solle (post-on-sill) manner, a vertical log style that uses hewn walnut logs placed upright on a horizontal base. The roof timbers are oak, and the roof itself is made of cypress clapboards covered by sycamore and the church is held together entirely with wooden pegs instead of nails. In l949, Father Joseph Mueller "rediscovered" the old log church that had been covered over with white clapboarding and the Log Church was restored in time for the parish’s 250th anniversary. An old cemetery that contains the graves of many of the parish’s priests and the locally prominent Jarrot family is located behind the church.

Churches have long performed important functions as religious and social centers for their communities. Important notices were posted on the church’s front doors, militia drills took place on church grounds after Sunday services, and were used for public meetings. Given its importance to the local community, it is probable that Lewis and Clark were well acquainted with the Holy Family Parish Log Church.

Visit our special Lewis and Clark Section to learn more about the Corps of Discovery’s experience during their stay in the Middle Mississippi River Valley.’s special coverage includes information on all of the region’s sites and events as well as supplemental articles relating to the expedition’s experience during the winter of 1803-04.

The Holy Family Parish Log Church is part of a historic district that includes the Colonial Cahokia State Historic Sites complex that also features the Cahokia Courthouse, the Jarrot Mansion, the Martin-Boismenue House, and a Visitors Center.

Visiting the Holy Family Parish Log Church
     Visiting Hours
          10 am - 4 pm from Memorial Day through Labor Day
          (Times subject to availability of the volunteer docents)
          Open for Latin Mass each Sunday at 9 am
          Open for tours with advance notice

There is no charge to visit the Holy Family Parish Log Church.

The Holy Family Parish Log Church is located near the intersection of IL-3 and IL-157 approximately 3 1/2 miles south of I-55 and I-64 across the river from downtown St. Louis.

GPS Coordinates
N  38°  34.226'
W 90°  11.321'

Learn more about the Cahokia area. - Contact information for the Diocese of Belleville which oversees the Holy Family Parish Log Church.

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