St. James of the Sag

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st james
St. James of the Sag Church and Cemetery
Built in 1833

The oldest Church in the Chicago Archdiocese, St. James of the Sag Bridge gets the latter part of it's name from it's location close to the Calumet Sag Channel near the intersection of IL 171 and 107th Street, close to Rt. 83. The church is said to have been founded by Irish immigrants settling in the area while working on the Illinois and Michigan Canal.

This church is commonly called "Monk's Castle" by local teens because legend has it if you trespass at night - especially on Halloween, the monks will make you kneel on ball bearings, broom handles or salt (depending upon who tells the tale) in prayer all night.

There were never any monks at this church, but the architecture, old cemetery, and remote wooded location make this a perfect target for urban legend. The church and cemetery are said to be haunted. An article about the first recorded haunting was printed in the Chicago Tribune on September 30, 1897.


Eddie said...

I passed by this old Church on one of those Richard Crowe supernatural tours. His bus tours take You to a lot of interesting Chicagoland locations. Some with tragic events in years past, others with strange spiritual phenominon. Very historic.

Thank You.

Anonymous said...


Great recounting of the tall tale surrounding "Monks Castle" that I'm sure every local male has heard in one variation or another.

Minor point: I'm almost sure St. James is actually a parish in the Joliet Archdiocese, not Chicago.

Tom Gill said...

Hey guys, thanks for looking. Anthony, I think you may be correct. But I double checked the St. James website a minute ago and they are listed as part of the Chicago Archdiocese. I wonder why, since they are so close to Joliet. Perhaps they are "grandfathered in" with Chicago.