6th & Broadway
Paducah, Kentucky 42001

Parish Office: 116 S 6th Street
Phone: (270) 442-1923
Fax: 270-443-4616

Parish Mission Statement

Rich in tradition, we are nourished by Word and Eucharist to live Jesus.

Parish History

Fr. Elisha Durbin, a priest with missionary zeal who ministered throughout western Kentucky, first began gathering Catholics in Paducah in 1848. These first Masses were held in the home of John Grief, located on the south side of Kentucky Avenue west of 6th Street.

Property for the church was purchased on May 8, 1848 from Thomas Brandon for $225. The first church, built of brick with a unique blue limestone foundation, was erected by parishioners in 1849 and sat well back from Broadway. It was surrounded by a high fence so that livestock could roam freely on the grounds.

A second, much larger church was built in 1870 under the direction of the pastor, Fr. Ivo Schacht. This church, also built of brick, was much nearer Broadway. Part of the old church was converted into a rectory for the use of the Carmelite priests who then served the parish.

The cornerstone of the present church was laid on June 5, 1899, and the church was dedicated on May 13, 1900. It was built of pitchedface, buffbrick with Bedford stone trimmings, and its style suggests Italian Renaissance with two domed bell towers. While construction was underway, Mass was celebrated in Lehrer’s Hall over a grocery store on the southwest corner of Seventh Street and Kentucky Avenue. The Pastor at this time was Fr. H. W. Jansen. The cost of the construction was $35,000.

The mural above the altar, representing the Ascension, was painted by Leo Mirabile, a native of Sicily, in 1936. In 1949 he returned to repaint the mural and to add portraits of ten saints to the overhead walls. In 1984, the tabernacle was removed from the high altar and a Eucharistic Chapel was built. The altar we currently use was donated by St. Pius X Seminary in Erlanger, Kentucky, in 1987. The baptismal pool was constructed and new lighting installed in the church in 1997. In 2004, a new Parish Hall was completed.

The parishes of St. Thomas More (1943) and Rosary Chapel (1947) were founded from St. Francis de Sales.

Restoration, 2011

The restoration of St. Francis de Sales Church was envisioned as a way of returning the architectural integrity to the building while continuing to respond to the needs of contemporary Roman Catholic worship. Under the direction of Anthony Kartsonas, owner of Historic Surfaces LLC in Chicago, IL, the restoration artists included Susan Buchholz, Nick Pavlis, Stephan Giannini, and Jeff Wolf.
The interior of St. Francis de Sales was decorated at least three times in its first thirty years of existence. These first three schemes were all executed well enough but it appeared that one of them stood out. The decorative painting and decoration from 1922 best considered the Renaissance style aspects of the church and worked well to enhance and embellish the other elements within the interior. It was for this reason that the 1922 period scheme was used as a guide for the restoration of the interior. The restoration of the interior finishes began with the conservation of the Mural of the Ascension on the Sanctuary ceiling. This was the only element not part of the 1922 period that was preserved. This mural was completed in 1936 and had since been restored and worked on excessively. The goal of the conservation work was to remove all the non-original overpaint to expose the original paint surface and appearance. Once the mural work was completed the decoration of the church was begun, replicating the colors and techniques of the 1922 period. This included polychrome painting, stenciling, hand-painted decoration, glazing and gilding with gold leaf. In addition to all the decorative painting that was completed, extensive repairs were performed on the plaster to ensure a solid foundation for all of the painting and decoration.

The Church Building

Under the direction of Chris Black of Ray Black and Son, Inc. in Paducah, important improvements were made to the outside of the building to weatherproof and maintain its character. All the Stained Glass Windows were improved with cleaning, painting, and the replacement of the protective covering with vented plate glass. The interior had experienced unfortunate acoustical treatment in the upper areas in 1949. This treatment was removed. Later additions to the interior were removed. In the case of the familiar, though of a later date, apostles, these paintings on canvas were relocated to the corridor of the Parish Hall. The overall painting design is meant to complete the interior architecture and design and to offer a more historically correct, complete vision of the church. The pews have been replaced, copying the style of the originals, and the terrazzo floors have been restored. Preliminary provisions for an upgraded heating and cooling system have been made in the church.

Stained Glass Windows

The symbols are located in the circle at the top of each window.

  • Beginning with the window above the doorway which leads to the Parish Hall, you will see the letters IHS, the first three letters of the name Jesus in Greek.
  • The next window to the right shows the Chalice surmounted by the Host, signifying the Eucharist.
  • The third window shows the mythical bird, the Phoenix, a symbol of the Resurrection for its ability to rise reborn from its ashes.
  • The fourth window portrays a Pelican, which according to legend feeds its young with its own blood. This serves as a reminder of our Lord who nourishes us with His Body and Blood.
  • The fifth window has the Lamb of God.
  • The sixth window contains the Dove, representing the Holy Spirit.
  • The large window to the left of the high altar is the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
  • The large window to the right of the high altar is the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
  • The first window on the right wall of the church represents St. Matthew with the figure of the “Son of Man.”
  • The second window represents St. Mark with the figure of the winged lion.
  • The third window shows the symbol of St. Luke, the winged ox.
  • The fourth window reveals the eagle, the symbol of St. John.
  • The fifth window portrays the Monstrance and Host, our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament.
  • Finally, the last window has a crown with the monogram A.M. This stands for Ave Maria and represents Mary, the Queen of Heaven.

Statuary

  • The statue in the center of the high altar is St. Francis de Sales, Bishop of Geneva, Doctor of the Church, and the patron of our parish.
  • On the left is St. Peter, the rock on which Jesus founded the Church, and on the right is St. Paul, the Apostle to the Gentiles.
  • The large crucifix affixed to the front left column was donated by the Dorian family in 1905.
  • The 14 Stations of the Cross begin on the front left wall and continue around the body of the church.
  • In the back left side of the church, near the corridor to the Parish Hall, is the statue of St. Joseph.
  • In the back right side of the church, near the votive niche, is the statue of St. Mary.
     

Music Ministry

The need to improve the functionality of the organ, originating in 1939 and built by the Reuter Organ Company of Lawrence, Kansas, necessitated the relocation of the organ pipes from the towers where temperature changes affected their performance. By placing them in the front and to the right of the Sanctuary, we were able to create a more functional and appropriate music ministry space. Occupying the alcove, the organ, newly constructed by the Miller Pipe Organ Company of Louisville, Kentucky, consists of 7 vintage and 10 new ranks of pipes with 30 stops. Mechanically new, it is electric-valve actuated with a detached 2 manual console. This move necessitated the removal of the side altar that was deemed more suitable for the reservation of the Eucharist in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel.

Blessed Sacrament Chapel

By updating the heating and cooling system, the full height ceiling was returned to the Blessed Sacrament Chapel, increasing its aesthetic appeal, and allowing for the use of the side altar from the church. The original bronze tabernacle door was returned to the church, restored and is now in use for the Tabernacle. The interior of this chapel was painted reflecting color and design from the church. Devotional statues of Mary and Joseph have also been placed in this chapel.

Baptismal Pool and Fonts

The lift was removed from the Sanctuary and a series of ramps were constructed allowing barrier free access to the Sanctuary as well as the Blessed Sacrament Chapel. The removal of the lift and a piece of the communion rail, now in the votive niche, allows the baptismal pool and fonts more visual prominence and functions better for baptisms. The introduction of the painted medallion over the Blessed Sacrament Chapel doors further identifies this part of the church with the Initiation Sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist. The central octagon is a symbol for the “eighth day”, the day of resurrection and an early, preferred shape for baptismal fonts. The cross formed by four flows of water depicts the four rivers. This image was used in early baptisteries and has its roots in the Old Testament. One reference is here below from the blessing of water:

“I bless you, O water, creature of God, by the living God, who caused you to flow from the fountain of paradise and commanded you to flow out in four rivers and water the whole earth; who changed you in the desert to a water fit to drink and caused you to flow from the rock to quench the people's thirst.”

The wheat and grapes of the Eucharist surround the central images and the circular wreath contains olive leaves and fruit, the material of the holy oils used in our sacramental celebrations.

Votive Niche

This former confessional area was reordered to serve as a place of prayer and intercession for the parish. The newly commissioned central panels, by Stephan Giannini, depict our patron St. Francis de Sales and his contemporary St. Jane Frances de Chantel. St. Francis was instrumental in helping people develop their lives spiritually through direction and formation. St. Jane, a wife and mother who later founded the Order of the Visitation, was guided by St. Francis de Sales and, like him, developed devotion to the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary.
St. Francis de Sales is shown framed with references to his writing of ministry and the crown of thorns as a reference to his comment that he made regarding gaining the “crown” of being a bishop as a crown of thorns. He worked tirelessly to evangelize people and was an effective preacher. St. Jane Frances de Chantal is shown referencing her heart which reflected her devotedness. Her panel is framed with an image of the Visitation and the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Like the St. Francis panel, the Cardinal and Goldenrod are used as Kentucky references in the ornamentation.

Portraits of Apostles & Evangelists

These paintings, on canvas, are located in the corridor of the Parish Hall. They include Saints Peter, John, Mark, Andrew, Jude, Paul, Matthew, Luke, Philip, and James.


 

©2006-2012    St. Francis de Sales Catholic Church