Created By: North Dakota State University
St. Mary’s Catholic Church is one of the most impressive churches in German-Russian country and is the jewel of the Hague community. It is one of the oldest German-Russian Catholic parishes in North Dakota.
From 1890, a small wooden church in the nearby settlement of Selz, served as the home of St. Mary’s Parish. By 1906, the Hague Catholic community and St. Mary’s Parish grew large enough to warrant the construction of a larger, brick church. Unfortunately, the people of Hague we not able to enjoy their first brick church for long. On Ash Wednesday of 1929, a fire destroyed the church. Many efforts were made to contain the blaze and save some of the holy items from the blaze. All efforts proved to be futile. Hague did not have a fire truck or adequate water to save the church. Only the rectory was saved by the tireless efforts of those carrying water buckets to the douse the flames. What was left of the 1906 church, was salvaged and reconstructed as the St. Mary grotto, and stands on the site of the original entrance to the church.
The church that stands today is due to the great fundraising efforts of the parishioners. The construction of this church was even more incredible because it took place during the Great Depression. The citizens of Hague gave their money and their labor to build this church at a time when money and resources were scarce. They wanted to build a church with the same splendor as the old one and the cornerstone for that new church was laid in August 1929. The church was completed in June 1930 for $80,000. It is presently valued at $1.2 million. The parishioners helped to build the new church with their own hands. The basement of the church was dug by hand with the assistance of horses. The now well-known Hebron brick company of North Dakota constructed the main body of the church.
The outside of the church is quite impressive, but the inside is the churches most outstanding feature. Thirteen Roman-arched stained glass windows portray the saints. Oil painting about the life of the Virgin Mary are spread across the ceiling. In all there are over 100 statues and paintings. The intricate altar is adorned with angels and the Virgin Mary.
The great fundraising efforts to the parishioners of St. Mary’s were put to the test once more, in recent history. In 2008, after 80 years, the roof needed a replacement. The cost for the roofing project was estimated at $212,000, a large sum for a small parish. As of the summer of 2017, the parish had raise over $100,000 and the roof replacement project was underway to preserve this gem of German-Russian country.
I. "Fixing Mary's Roof." Emmonscatholics.org. Accessed July 31, 2017. https://emmonscatholics.org/fixing-marys-roof.
II. Linton Chamber of Commerce. Emmons County Guide. Linton, ND: Linton Chamber of Commerce, 2010.
III. Wald, Katie Glatt. "A History of St. Mary's Catholic Parish from 1890 to 1990 Hague, Emmons County, North Dakota." Germans from Russia Heritage Collection. Accessed July 31, 2017. https://library.ndsu.edu/grhc/history_culture/history/st_mary.html.
This point of interest is part of the tour: German Russian Country Driving Tour