In 1905 Archbishop James Edward Quigley asked Father John De Schryver, SJ., a professor at St. Ignatius College, to organize a parish for the Belgian community in Chicago. Named for the patron saint of young people, students and altar servers, St. John Berchmans Parish (SJB) was established on September 3, 1905. In 1907 the Dominican Sisters of Kentucky started the school.
Standing for over one hundred years as a Beacon of Hope and anchor of this Logan Square community, Saint John Berchmans has a rich history that kept up with this ever-changing neighbor. Please read our Complete Parish History for details about our past, then join us each Sunday to become part of our future.
Our Patron Saint
Saint John Berchmans
Patron of altar servers and of young people
John Berchmans was born on March 13, 1599 in what is now Belgium. He was the oldest of five children. As a child, he was noted for his devotion to schoolwork and his reverence as an altar server at Mass. John Berchmans was well-liked among his classmates, and gently encouraged them by his own example to live their faith with greater diligence.
On September 24, 1616, John Berchmans entered the Jesuit novitiate. In 1618, he was sent to Rome to study philosophy and was an exceptional student. He requested after ordination to become a chaplain in the army, hoping to be martyred on the battlefield. Instead, John Berchmans returned to Rome, where he lived and studied for two years, before he contracted a fever and died of his illness at the age of 22. After his death Rome in 1621, his heart was returned to his beloved province in Belgium, and it is kept in a silver reliquary on a side altar in the church at Louvain. John Berchmans was declared Blessed in 1865, and was canonized in 1888.
John Berchmans is unique as a saint because his life was fairly ordinary: he was not a martyr, he did not perform spectacular miracles nor did he live in extreme poverty. He did not even live long enough to be ordained a priest.
The miracle that led to his canonization occurred at the Academy of the Sacred Heart in Grand Coteau, Louisiana. In 1866, one year after the Civil War, he appeared to novice Mary Wilson. Mary’s health was poor, and her parents thought that the gentler climate of south Louisiana could be a remedy. However, her health continued to decline, to the point where for about 40 days she had only been able to take liquids. “Being unable to speak, I said in my heart: ‘Lord, Thou Who seest how I suffer, if it be for your honor and glory and the salvation of my soul, I ask through the intercession of Blessed Berchmans a little relief and health. Otherwise give me patience to the end.'” She went on to describe how John Berchmans then appeared to her, and she was immediately healed. When the Academy opened a boys school in 2006, the trustees named it St. John Berchmans School. It is the only shrine at the exact location of a confirmed miracle in the United States.
The feast day of John Berchmans has never been inscribed in the General Roman Calendar, but prior to the liturgical reforms of Pope John XXIII there was a Mass set for him among the section of Masses for Various Places (Missae pro aliquibus locis) of the Roman Missal which foresaw that it would be celebrated in different places on either 13 August or 26 November. Berchmans is currently inscribed in the 2004 official edition of the Catholic Church’s Martyrologium Romanum (p. 451) on 13 August, the date of his dies natalis (heavenly birthday). He is celebrated by the Society of Jesus on 26 November.
Because of his devout faith, he is usually represented in art holding a crucifix, the rule of the Jesuit Order, and a rosary.