Our Vision & Mission Statements, & History



Grounded in the love, mercy and compassion of Jesus Christ, in the year 2111, it will be said of  The Shrine of Our Lady of Pompeii that it is known nationwide as a holy place of pilgrimage and prayer and as a model of effective shrine ministry; is an innovative center for spirituality and the arts integrating body and soul; is a recognized leader of creative engagement with all people of faith and for returning Catholics; and that it is a major influence in promoting the dignity of the human person, organizing against injustices and as a place to pray for peace, where the heart always has a home. 


The Shrine of Our Lady of Pompeii is a holy place of pilgrimage consecrated to Mary, Queen of the Holy Rosary. The Rosary celebrates the mysteries of Christ’s life, whose incarnation, death and resurrection are the heart of the Shrine’s ministry and our sacred link to salvation. The portrait of Our Lady of Pompeii illustrates the rosary as Mary’s gift to the Church, just as the Shrine of Our Lady of Pompeii is the gift of the Italian-American community to the Archdiocese of Chicago.

The Shrine is a center of hospitality, evangelization and spiritual growth, founded in the Italian tradition and culture. Located in Chicago’s Near West Side, with its rich cultural diversity, the Shrine stands as a testimony to the faith and generosity of our ancestors and continues to embrace all pilgrims of faith. Thus, the Shrine enriches the mission of the Archdiocese of Chicago by dedicating its resources to the following spiritual and cultural goals:

  • To maintain the Shrine as a place of pilgrimage and comfort, where all might experience inspirational moments of prayer, contemplation and devotion.
  • To joyfully celebrate the sacred moments of life and the feasts and seasons of the Church Year, especially the solemnities of Mary and the patron saints of the Italian heritage.
  • To celebrate with all pilgrims vibrant Sunday and Feast Day liturgies that are marked with warm hospitality, inspiring music and homilies.
  • To be committed to Archdiocesan efforts of evangelization and healing for alienated and non-practicing Catholics of all ages.
  • To preserve and enhance a ministry of spiritual assistance and service to others.
  • To express the richness of the Italian culture and to foster appreciation of this rich heritage as a gift to all within our multi-cultural Archdiocese and society.
  • To provide a center for younger generations of Italian-Americans to more deeply understand, recognize and appreciate their rich cultural identity and deeply rooted devotion to Mary.
  • To be a place of unity and reconciliation for Italian-Americans dispersed throughout the Chicago area and the world.

History of Our Parish / Shrine

At the turn of the century, the influx and growth of the Italian Community of the near west side area of Chicago, was a challenge to all agencies involved in their care, help and development. The church too, with one Italian parish in the area – Guardian Angel Church – saw the need of expansion and of another parochial facility to serve and administer to the growing migrant and immigrant community. It was in 1910 that Father Pacifico Chenuil, then Pastor of Guardian Angel Church, with the guidance and support of His Excellency James Quigley, arrived at the decision to proceed with the establishment of a new parish farther west at Lexington (McAllister Place) and Lytle.

Under the leadership of its first Pastor, Father Peter Barabino, who had been an Associate to Father Chenuil, the Italians of the Near West Side planted the seeds of Our Lady of Pompeii. Energetically and enthusiastically the building of a combination Church and School was begun. By the spring of 1911 the Church was ready for use. One year later in 1912, the school on the upper level was ready to be opened. Classes began with the services of the Franciscan Missionary Sisters of the Immaculate Conception. In a short time the sacrifices, generosity, and dedication of so many had established a new parish structure that was to develop into a glorious future.

In 1918, Father Carlo Fani assumed the Pastorate of Our Lady of Pompeii and served the parish until 1932. It was during his administration that most of the present physical plant structures as they are today were developed. A new Church was erected in 1923-1924, which became the pride and joy not only of the local Italian community but also of Italians in the Chicagoland area. The school was renovated in its entirety and the present rectory was built. Throughout the years that followed each Pastor added or renovated updating the physical plant of Church, School, and Rectory.

There were two other significant events in the historical development of Our Lady of Pompeii in recent times. The first was the erection of a new convent in 1956 with Fr. Joseph Bolzan as Pastor. As a very huge and modern facility, it was meant to accommodate a community of twenty Sisters. Presently the Christian Brothers of DeLaSalle make it their residence. The final accomplishment of late was the burning of the mortgage in October of 1985, which began the celebration of this 75th Anniversary Year. What seemed to be an insurmountable debt accumulated throughout the years – the sum of close to one-half million dollars was wiped out. This was accomplished with the acumen of Fr. Peter Sordi, the generosity of parishioners, friends and the aid of the Archdiocese.

The Scalabrini Fathers and Brothers who were sent primarily as Italian Missionaries for their migrant brothers and sisters have staffed Our Lady of Pompeii since it’s founding. They have been proud to be associated for all these years with the Near West Side Community and be part of the rich heritage and tradition of Our Lady of Pompeii. They continue presently with Fr. Angelo Carbone as pastor to be of service to the community.

This 75th Anniversary Year is a milestone in the history of the parish. It looks back with pride to the dedication and generosity of many priests, religious and laity, and is an inspiration for us to follow their example. With gratitude we remember our ancestors, men and women of faith who lived and worshipped at Our Lady of Pompeii and made possible this beautiful church and plant. This event is a challenge to us of the present to reaffirm our continued commitment to the goals of Christian fidelity, mutual support, love and respect of family, education of youth, participation in liturgy, etc. We pray that God through Our Lady of Pompeii may continue to bless the efforts and dedication of the present as he did in the past so that we may go from strength to strength and be worth of our heritage.

Other Pastors who followed and contributed to the growth of Our Lady of Pompeii were:

  • Fr. Remigio Pigato (1932-1947)
  • Fr. Louis Riello (1948-1949)
  • Fr. Salvatore DeVita (1949-1952)
  • Fr. Joseph Bolzan (1952-1961)
  • Fr. John Bonelli (1961-1965)
  • Fr. Gino Dalpiaz (1965-1974)
  • Fr. Angelo Calandra (1974-1982)
  • Fr. Peter Sordi (1983-1985)