St. Therese Church, 1904 (renamed in 1963)

At 218 West Alexander Street, just west of Wentworth Avenue, the church building was originally consecrated as Santa Maria Incoronata Church and had a largely Italian-American congregation, many of whose ancestors came from Ricigliano near Salerno. In the 1950s the church began to attract more and more Chinese Catholic worshipers while the Italian congregation declined in numbers.  In 1963 the building was passed on to St. Therese Chinese Mission, founded in 1940 and at first based in a rented store on Wentworth Avenue

St Therese exterior

Inside, St. Therese has a number of distinctively Chinese features, including gold-on-black inscriptions and an altar with a Chinese-language tablet to honor ancestors.  The interior is one of the most beautiful of any church in Chicago. An interesting non-Chinese feature is the large statue of Christ on the Cross donated to Santa Maria Incoronata by Teresina (or Therese) Capone, the mother of Al Capone. She is said to have been a devout woman who loved her son in spite of his faults.  While she lived far south at 7244 Prairie Avenue during Al’s heyday in Chicago, she evidently was fond of Santa Maria Incoronata. This may have been because the Riciglianese congregation spoke a Salerno dialect similar to that of her home town, Castellammare di Stabia. We do not know when she made the donation. It may have been after Capone’s imprisonment (in 1931) or death (in 1947). She herself died in 1952.
St Therese InteriorSt Therese crucifux