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Mon - Thurs: 8:00 - 5:15

Hours

(217) 698-8500

Phone

1615 W. Washington St., Springfield, IL 62702

About the Diocese

History of the Diocese of Springfield

In 1789, the territory that is now the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois was absorbed by the newly formed Diocese of Baltimore. Since then it has passed under the administration of the Diocese of Bardstown, Kentucky (1808), St. Louis, Missouri (1826) and Vincennes, Indiana (1834). In 1843, the entire state of Illinois was formed into a single diocese with the see city in Chicago.

In 1852, American bishops and archbishops met in Baltimore for their First Plenary Council, where they addressed organizational, educational, liturgical and sacramental issues. They also discussed the advisability of creating more dioceses in the United States. They recommended that Illinois be divided and on July 29, 1853, Pope Pius IX erected the Diocese of Quincy, which was comprised of what is now the Dioceses of Springfield in Illinois and Belleville.

Pope Pius IX appointed Joseph Melcher, the Vicar General of St. Louis, to be the first bishop of Quincy, but he declined the honor. Almost immediately, a few Catholics in the new diocese agitated to move the see to a more central location. On January 9, 1857, Pope Pius IX moved the see to Alton. Alton, like Quincy, is located on the western edge of the diocese, but it was more central to the Catholic population in the southern half of the Illinois. Henry Damian Juncker, a parish priest from Ohio, was appointed as the first Bishop of Alton and in the spring of 1857 he took possession of the diocese.

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