It’s one of the first things you notice as you fly over beautiful Lake Michigan and land in Milwaukee – we’re a city of steeples! Immigrant populations from Germany, Poland, Italy, Ireland and England originally settled Milwaukee and built churches with soaring towers all over the city, and those that followed brought their own faith traditions with them. Today Milwaukee has more than 1,000 houses of worship of all denominations, and deeply rooted religious traditions remain a part of who we are as a city.
Included among Milwaukee’s historic religious institutions is the Basilica of St. Josaphat, completed in 1901. The largest church in Milwaukee, it is home to a vibrant Roman Catholic parish and remains a testament to the faith of the Polish immigrants that created it. The Visitor Center is open six days a week for visits and tours.
The St. Joan of Arc Chapel is the oldest building still used for its original purpose in the Western Hemisphere. Brought over from France and rebuilt brick by brick, it is said that St. Joan of Arc once prayed at this chapel and kissed a stone. As legend goes, the stone is significantly cooler than those around it, and visitors can touch it to see for themselves.
Milwaukee is home to a strong African American faith community. Founded in 1869 by Ezekiel Gillespie, St. Mark African Methodist Episcopal Church was the first African American church in the state of Wisconsin. Though the church has moved several times, it found its current home in 1969 and maintains an active congregation to this day.
Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church is one of downtown's historic German churches. The congregation has worshipped at the same location since 1851, though the beautiful German Renaissance Revival church that stands today was dedicated in 1901. In addition to the historic chapel and worship space, Grace is also home to Grace Place Coffee, a full-service coffee shop open to the public.
The Islamic Society of Milwaukee is a dynamic center serving the religious, educational and social needs of the Muslim community, promoting good citizenship and building relations with other communities. It is the largest Islamic society in Wisconsin and operates three area facilities: ISM Brookfield (Masjid Al-Noor), ISM Main Center and ISM University.