St. Ignatius Mission (St. Ignatius, MT)

07/25/17 Tuesday in Spokane Valley, WA (HOME)

On our pilgrimage to Montana Catholic sites, we first saw the St. Ignatius Mission on the Flathead Indian reservation.

This church, named after St. Ignatius Loyola, founder of the Jesuits, was built in 1891. This happened only after 4 separate delegations of Indians went to Father Peter DeSmet pleading for missionaries. In response, he sent educational and religious help for the Salish and Kootenai tribes. Within 35 years this mission included a large school, a sawmill, a printing press, flour mill, hospital, farm and the present church.

Ig 1

The murals in this church (stunning when you first enter) were painted by Brother Joseph Carignano, SJ, the mission cook.

Ig 4

I loved the “shell” piece they placed over the speaker’s podium. Note the area marked for repairs on the painting of Mary. Considering how old this building is, they’ve done a great job of trying to keep it in shape.

There were paintings of many saints, including St. Francis of Assisi and St. Gonzaga.

The Ursuline sisters who arrived in 1890, began the first kindergarten, then later staffed a boarding school and a day school. By 1972 all were closed.

Providence sisters were the first Catholic nuns in Montana. They came from Canada in 1864, running the first Catholic boarding school in Montana until it burned in 1919. These sisters also ran a hospital until 1914, when real doctors and nurses came to staff it. In 1977, due to a shortage of personnel, the hospital was given to the community of St. Ignatius.

This building was the first home of the Providence sisters. Inside are historical explanations and a lovely painting by Brother Carignano.


About Patricia Elser

I've always loved the loose, flowing, transparent look of watercolors, of Chinese paintings and their calligraphy, but alas, no watercolor classes were available when I was in school, so that interest remained buried until my children were grown. Even then, I was afraid that I couldn't really paint, so upon my sister's advice, I actually started to take classes. I signed up for every class available, determined to learn no matter how afraid I was. I came upon a teacher, Stan Miller, who inspired me, who opened the door to success in watercolor. I love to look at beautiful images. I want to capture them forever. All my life, photography was how I gathered images of the beauty I saw. Thanks to all that photography, I enjoy composing pictures, especially up close. Watercolors allow me to add more of me in their translation of that beauty. My paintings reflect my love for music and dance, with their rhythm and flow. I am fascinated by the play of light, so it appears in my pictures as drama for they are filled with darks and lights. Maybe it's the challenge, maybe it's the beauty, but now, when a work comes together, it fills my soul.
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