In 1854 St. Ignatius Mission became the site of the second Catholic mission in Montana. Father Adrian Hoecken, a Jesuit priest, originally established the mission in Idaho, but it was moved to the Mission Valley at the behest of the Pend d’Oreille Indians.
A boys’ school, a mill, and a press (which printed a dictionary of the Pend d’Oreille language) eventually grew up around the mission.
One of the Jesuits’ original log buildings, a chapel that doubled as living quarters for the priests, still stands beside the brick church, which was built in 1891. The church deserves as much of a look as the wooden chapel; there are striking murals inside, painted by Brother Joseph Carignano, the mission cook.
While these murals may not initially impress those who compare them to those at St. Paul’s Cathedral or Chartres, they clearly succeeded in illustrating the life of Jesus and in imparting biblical stories to the Indians.
Sunday mass is still held weekly at 9:15 a.m. Good Friday and Easter services at the mission church have developed into a uniquely Flathead Catholic ceremony.