Nikon D300 ~ 18-200mm Nikkor lens
f 5 ~ 1/60s ~ ISO 200
Taken in Virginia City, Nevada (USA)
Edited in CS5, used NIK filters
Light a candle, say a prayer. Banks of prayer candles in St Mary’s Church. St Mary’s In the Mountains was Nevada’s “First” Catholic Church.
Per the Diocese of Reno
The first Catholic Church in Nevada was built by Father Hugh Gallagher in Virginia City in 1860. A wooden edifice, it collapsed in heavy winds the first winter.
The first brick church was built on the current site in 1868, under the direction of Father Patrick Manogue, only to survive a few years before burning along with the majority of Virginia City in the “Great Fire” of October 1875. Started in “Crazy Kate’s” Boarding House on “A” Street, the heavy winds soon blew the embers down the mountainside eventually reaching St. Mary’s. The church interior was gutted, although some of the fixtures and statues were saved from the fire.
This was the height of the “Big Bonanza” on the Comstock Lode, and St. Mary’s was re-built in a manner even grander then before. Much of the interior you see today dates from 1876. Housed in our belfry is a 2,264 lb. bell with a 100 lb. clapper. This magnificent bell survived the fire and we still ring it on occasion to this day.
The wooden arches and pews in the church were made from Northern California redwood with white pine moldings. The pews (complete with doors) were once rented to the citizens of Virginia City, with the more prominent townsfolk sitting in the front pews!
Throughout the years, St. Mary’s in the Mountains has endured many hardships. The choir loft was removed by a group of monks (Cistercians who had formed an artistic group called the Damascus Foundation), and fixtures were removed in an effort to modernize the church. The townsfolk of Virginia City protested and the monks were here but a short time (1957-1959).
In 2009 a massive restoration and retrofit program was undertaken at our church. The choir loft and staircases have been restored and this beautiful church has been returned to much of her former glory.