The earliest history of Chicago mentions James Marquette, a Jesuit missionary, who with two companions reached the mouth of the Chicago River, 4 December 1674; he is reported, however, to have passed through this colony during the summer of 1673.
He spent the winter of 1674-1675 here, using his cabin as the first chapel on the site of the present metropolis.
In 1696 Father Peter Pinet established the Miami mission of the Angel Guardian at Chicago, which then consisted of two villages with about 300 cabins.
In 1849 an orphan asylum was erected by Reverend James Oliver Van de Velde, in order to care for the children whose parents died during the cholera epidemic of that year.
In 1846 the Sisters of Mercy started a school, which became a great educational influence in the city; they later established a hospital.
The parochial school system was organized in Chicago in 1860.
The Religious of the Sacred Heart opened an academy in the same year, and nine years later Saint Ignatius College was begun, the only Catholic institution of its kind in the city for years.
Catholic education was promoted under Archbishop Augustine Feehan, the De La Salle Institute, Saint Cyril's College, and Saint Vincent's College, now De Paul University, being started about this time.
Two other Catholic institutions are the Ephpheta School for the Deaf and Loyola University.
The result of many years struggle was wiped out at the time of the Chicago fire.
The first free library in the city, the Union Catholic Library Association, lost a collection of 2,500 volumes.
In less than seven years all that had been destroyed was rebuilt again.
One of the most impressive church edifices is the Holy Name Cathedral.
Incidental to the World's Congress Auxiliary of the Columbian Exposition and World's Fair in Chicago, the sessions of the Second Catholic Congress of the United States were held in the fall of 1893, presided over by Archbishop Feehan and William J. Onahan.
The delegates to the convention were welcomed by President Bonney of the World's Congress Auxiliary "on behalf of the World's Exposition and the fifty million non-Catholics who loved justice and religious liberty."
In 1926 occurred at Chicago one of the greatest Catholic gatherings of modern times, the 28th International Eucharistic Congress.
Since 1866 it has been the metropolis of the Polish community in America; nearly all their schools are conducted by the Felician Sisters and the School Sisters of Notre Dame.
There was an estimated population of 1,000 German Catholics in Chicago, 1844, who have increased and established many schools and churches.
The Lithuanian church is one of the best organized.
The Illinois Catholic Historical Society was founded, 1918, under the leadership of Father Frederic Siedenburg, S.J., by a group of priests and laymen who met at Loyola University for the purpose of studying and surveying the Catholic history of Illinois.
There are about 30 Catholic papers and periodicals, including the "Columbian," the "Extension Magazine," the "Illinois Catholic Historical Review" and the "New World."
Catholics distinguished in public life in Chicago are: Eliza Allen Starr, convert, artist and teacher of Christian art; Judge Gibbons; Judge Clifford, both of the Circuit Court of Chicago; Judge Marcus Kavanaugh of the Superior Court; Dr. J. B. Murphy, surgeon of world fame; ex-Judge Edward F. Dunne, formerly mayor of Chicago; and Stephen A. Douglas, convert and statesman.
Knights of Saint Gregory include: Commanders E. F. Hines and D. F. Kelly; and Knights E. F. Carey, A. Czarnecki, A. J. Forschner, F. J. Lewis, J. W. McCarthy, A. Matre, F. X. Mudd, and E. J. Stubbs.
New Catholic Dictionary