Discover the Oldest Church in Illinois

© Kbh3rd, CC BY-SA 3.0

Written by Patrick MacFarland

Published: February 1, 2024

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Churches or houses of worship have been places of gathering for people for many centuries. These places have served a purpose — a means to calm people when doubt sets through the soul and being. As the United States grew and moved westward, settlers established a presence in communities. They built schools, post offices, community centers, police stations, and, of course, churches.

Let’s take a look at the oldest church in Illinois. We’ll go through the facts of when it was built, the location, and the wildlife in the surrounding area. 


Church of the Holy Family

The Church of the Holy Family is the oldest church located west of the Allegheny Mountains.

©Kbh3rd, CC BY-SA 3.0 – Original / License

The Church of the Holy Family is located in Cahokia Heights, IL within St. Clair County. The church is within the St. Louis metropolitan area. West of St. Clair County is St. Louis, MO. The church is Roman Catholic and it is currently maintained by the Roman Catholic church. There are three buildings on the grounds, which include the original church, a more modern sanctuary, and a parish house. There is still Mass every single week in the church, with a congregation that attends regularly. Guided tours are available for any visitors who would like one.

When Was It Built?

Church of Holy Family

The congregation that gathers every week is the oldest that is still active in the Catholic religion in the United States.

©Usia999, CC BY-SA 3.0 – Original / License

Although the church was built much later, the congregation actually started to gather in 1699. Priests from Quebec arrived in the area to set up a mission. Although the mission ended in 1768, the congregation continued to meet. A more modern church was constructed around 1786 and consecrated on September 24, 1799. The congregation met in this church for almost 100 years until a new one made of stone was built next to it. The old church was made of logs and converted into a parish house that still stands today.

Major Events

The oldest church in Illinois has had a storied history. Here are a few major events that happened throughout the years.


St. Louis, Missouri from Cahokia Mounds

The church is located at 116 Church St. in Cahokia Heights, IL, which is near the St. Louis metropolitan area.

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The area around the Church of the Holy Family has an abundance of different animals. Because it’s located within the St. Louis metropolitan area, you may not be able to see more exotic ones besides rodents. But in the outskirts, you could see bears, groundhogs, raccoons, and even bats. Toward the sky, you can even spot hawks, vultures, woodpeckers, and even eagles at certain times of the year.


And there you have it, the oldest church in Illinois is the Church of the Holy Family. Located in Cahokia Heights, IL, the church is over 200 years old. The church has seen a lot of history in the past 200 years and will, no doubt, see more. When you walk through the halls of the church, imagine yourself back in the time when the first settlers arrived in Illinois to establish a presence in the area, but also a sense of community.

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About the Author

Patrick Macfarland is a writer at A-Z Animals primarily covering travel, geography, and history. Patrick has been writing for more than 10 years. In the past, he has been a teacher and a political candidate. He holds a Bachelor's Degree in Political Science from SDSU and a Master's Degree in European Union Studies from CIFE. From San Diego, California, Patrick loves to travel and try new recipes to cook.

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