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St. Mary Star of the Sea seeks those who know the history

This stained glass window depicts St. Jadwiga of Poland (Hedwig in English). She attended to cultural and charitable activates, sponsoring writers and artists, and donating much of her personal wealth to charity, including the founding of hospitals. (Photo by Naomi Yaeger)1 / 5
Many of the original families of the church donated money for the stained glass windows. Notice that the dedication is written in Polish. 2 / 5
Renee Zurn visits with Aloysisus M. “Al” Cismowski. Cismowski said his parents were among the original members of the church. (Photo by Naomi Yaeger) 3 / 5
Renee Zurn gestures to the ceiling as she points out some of the changes that have been made to the church since it was built in 1906. (Photo by Naomi Yaeger)4 / 5
A photo of the parochial school built by the church hangs on the basement wall. Though its proper name was St. Mary’s School, some called it the Polish School. Located at Fourth Street and Third Avenue East, it included grades 1-8. Handwritten notes on the back of the photo indicate the school was built in 1891. Later the building was torn down and a nurses home was built. Al Cismowski, who is pictured in another photo attended 7th and 8th grade at the school.5 / 5

Renee Zurn, the president of St. Mary Star of the Sea Catholic Church's Rosary Society, gave a tour to a group of 30 on Sunday afternoon. Zurn is researching the history of the church.

The church was started by a group of Polish immigrants in 1883. The building in use today was constructed in 1906. Many of the stained glass windows and paintings on the ceiling were donated by Polish-American families. Zurn is searching for the details on stained glass windows and painting on ceilings.

"Many of the original Polish-speaking members are passing away and unfortunately that history is dying out," Zurn said. Next year is the 110th anniversary of the church. "The Rosary Society is hoping to repeat the tour (with more detail) next year."

Rosary Society vice president Kristi Salls said in the summer tourists often stop by the church to see the interior because it still retains the style that was prevalent prior to Vatican II (1962).

Zurn encourages those with historical information to phone the church office at (218) 722-3078.

Naomi Yaeger is the editor of the Duluth Budgeteer News. If your religious building or the people attending your faith are celebrating a milestone Yaeger encourages you to contact her at

Naomi Yaeger

Naomi Yaeger is a freelance writer and the former editor of the Budgeteer. See her blog at