The Painted Churches of Texas

Steve and I went with his photography group to see some of the Painted Churches of Texas.  

Built by German and Czech immigrants in the late 1800s and early 1900s, the Painted Churches are notable for their beautiful interiors, with colorful, hand-stenciled walls and ceilings, stained glass windows, and elaborate wood detail and statuary.

There are twenty Painted Churches located in and around Schulenberg, about 90 miles west of Houston. We went to three of the churches on this trip: The Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary (St. Mary’s) in High Hill; Sts. Cyril and Methodius Catholic Church in Dubina; and St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in Ammannsville. 

It proved a fun outing to practice his new photography skills.  We intend to go back, perhaps in the spring when the church grounds are blooming.

Below are a few of our favorite pictures. You can see more pictures from our visit in The Annotated Stained Glass of St. Mary’s and Cemeteries of the Painted Churches.

The Painted Churches are tall, dignified structures visible from across the countryside. 

I love the clean crisp lines of Sts. Cyril and Methodius Church in Dubina.
“Dubina” is a Czech word for “oak grove.”
St. John the Baptist Church in Ammannsville is a parish of Czech immigrants. 
St. Mary’s in High Hill was established by German settlers in 1860.  The current church was built in 1906 by the parishioners.

The simple exteriors belie the dramatic religious artwork inside where elaborate altars and dramatic ceilings make a striking impression.

Sts. Cyril and Methodius Church in Dubina:

St. Mary’s Catholic Church in High Hill

The successive banding of color alludes to that which poured forth from our Lord’s side on the cross – blood and water.” (From Guide to the Interior, 2006)

There’s a lot going on here with tromp l’oeil, stenciling, and stained glass. The statue is of St. Therese of Lisieux, author of The Story of a Soul and the patron saint of florists.

St. John the Baptist Church in Ammansville

The pink ceiling, with its plaster ribbing and hand-stenciled pattern, makes for a dramatic effect. The inscription is Latin for “My delight is to be with the children of man,” from Proverbs 8.

I read that the stained glass style of the Czechs allows for more natural light than the style of the Germans, who fill up every space with dense colors and images. That seems to be the case in these images from St. John the Baptist Church in Ammannsville, a Czech community.

Compare these to the stained glass at St. Mary’s in High Hill, a parish founded by German immigrants.

The Painted Churches are active parishes. Like everywhere else in the world, Covid has impacted the Mass schedule. 

For more on Painted Churches, see “Annotated Stained Class of St. Mary’s” and “On the Grounds of the Painted Churches.”


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