St. Ignatius Mission

Step inside the historic St. Ignatius Mission for a surprise: 58 stunning, hand-painted murals seem to light up the walls and ceiling of this National Historical Site. Situated in the town of St. Ignatius, at the base of the rugged Mission Mountains, the mission was built in 1891 by local Indians and Jesuit missionaries. The bricks used to build it were made from local clay.

As for the main attraction, the amazing frescoes, they were created many years ago by the mission’s cook and handyman, Brother Joseph Carignano. An Italian Jesuit, Brother Joseph was, believe it or not, a self-taught artist. Gazing at his work in the mission, it truly is difficult to believe that he taught himself how to paint like that.

View of nave, interior of St. Ignatius Mission, St. Ignatius, Montana. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.

It’s nice to take your time, sit in one of the mission’s pews, relax, and take it all in. If you ever have a chance to hear a choir concert in the mission, go. The acoustics in the high-ceilinged church are wonderful. Or, if you’re so inclined, you can attend Mass here on Sunday mornings.

Visiting the St. Ignatius Mission and its two smaller historical buildings is free, but donations are always welcome. Also, you can buy a little book about the mission’s interesting history for $3.

Find the St. Ignatius Mission by heading north on highway 93 from Missoula. Once you’ve gone about 40 miles, watch for signs that will direct you to the old church.