Iowa January 05, 2017
Most People Don’t Know Iowa Is Home To The Smallest Chapel In The World
Iowa has many beautiful churches and chapels, with incredible architecture, statues, stained glass and artwork. One of the most special chapels in Iowa is the St. Anthony of Padua Chapel in Festina, Iowa. It’s known as the world’s smallest chapel, measuring a mere 12 by 16 feet in size, with an ability to seat only eight people.
The church sits on a property aptly named “Smallest Church Park,” in the tiny unincorporated town of Festina, Iowa.
The idea for construction of the church began with a mother’s vow to keep her son, Johann, alive.
Johann Gaertner's mother promised God she would build Him a chapel if her soldier son survived Napoleon's Russian campaign. Her son in fact returned home unharmed, and she made good on her promise. The chapel was built of locally quarried stone in 1885.
Architectural features of the chapel include a 40 foot steeple and stained glass windows.
At the front of the chapel, there’s a small altar with a statue of St. Anthony of Padua holding the baby Jesus.
The chapel contains 4 pews that comfortably seat eight people.
While services aren’t regularly held at the chapel, it is open for people to come in for a moment of quiet reflection.
Also on the grounds is an old cabin that was originally built in 1848 and was reconstructed in 1996. The cabin was used for mass and was also used as the first post office in the area.
While the chapel’s signage claims that it’s the smallest chapel in the world, that technically is no longer the case. Several other churches have claimed the title, although St. Anthony of Padua chapel most likely did hold that title at the time it was built.
It’s a charming little chapel in a quiet, lovely spot, and it is definitely worth a visit.
To get to St. Anthony of Padua chapel, take Hwy 150 to Festina. Travel west on 123rd St. for about a mile, watch for the sign, and then head south on Little Church Rd. and cross the river.
Have you visited this unique chapel? What did you think? For more of Iowa’s amazing churches, check out The Chapel In Iowa That’s Located In The Most Unforgettable Setting.