Church is Home to Polish Catholics for 131 Years

Northland Uncovered: St. Mary Star of the Sea

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Wooden pews and stained glass windows have been home to Polish Catholics in Duluth for more than 130 years. 

“It was decorated with reminders of their polish faith and polish saints,” said Renee Zurn, an active member of St. Mary Star of the Sea.

St. Mary Star of the Sea became home to immigrants finding a new home in America.

“What we first had here was a small wooden church and within just 20 years the population of people had grown such they had to add on to it,” said Zurn.

The first church used for worship actually burned down in 1905 and was soon replaced by the brick church that stands today.

It’s designed to create the image of a window to heaven.

“It’s intentionally built to raise your hearts and minds to the angels and the saints in God’s presence in heaven,” said Father Peter Muhich.

The neo-gothic architecture is typical of Catholic Churches of the time.

“It’s built in the shape of a cross, from above and from inside. You can see we have the main alter and the two little knaves out to the side,” described Zurn. 

The stained glass windows tell the story of Jesus and helped those who couldn’t read their bibles.

“Now when I look up I can appreciate the pictures of our Lord teaching on the ceiling or the stained glass windows of people who tried to live their life as Jesus taught,” said Zurn.

“You know you look at the windows, you look at the stations of the cross, you’re surrounded by the stations of the cross and all those that have come to know Him throughout the centuries,” said Father Peter. 

Unique features this place of worship holds are the six relics placed throughout the church.

According to Father Peter, it’s not common to have that many.

Because of its Polish background, the sanctuary features Polish saints.

“It really is a testament to Jesus Christ and then those who have followed Him throughout the ages” said Father Peter. 

Although St. Mary Star of the Sea is prominent in its physical beauty, Father Peter says it’s the spiritual presence that means most to him.

“It’s meant to remind us that we are spiritual beings and not just physical beings,” said Father Peter.

Zurn and other members of the church are currently in the process of writing a book on the history of the church.

For more information on the church, visit St. Mary Star of the Sea’s website.

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