601 10th Street
Victoria, KS 67671
The first worship services were held at Herzog in the dwelling of A. Dreiling. A frame church was built adjoining the house, the south wall of the dwelling serving as north wall of the church. This structure was about 40x24 feet. Hon. Walter C. Maxwell, a Catholic Englishman then living south of Victoria, undertook to build a stone church for the settlers on Section 1, north of the present dwellings. In August, 1877, plans and specifications had been completed by Henry Bergsland who also received the contract. This church, which measured 60x30x16 feet, soon also proved to be too small for the growing community. The Kansas Pacific Railroad Company, at the solicitation of Rev. Hyacinth Epp, donated ten acres in the northwest quarter of Section 7 for a church and school, 9 June 1879. Rev. A. Schuermann, altered the original design of Rev. Jos. C. Mayershofer, and superintended the building of the new church which measured 168x46x35 and had a seating capacity of 600. The cornerstone was laid on 1 June 1880. Consecration of the completed facility by Rt. Rev. L. M. Fink took place on 19 October 1884.
The present church was begun in 1908 by E.F.A. Clark Construction Company of Topeka and was completed in 1911. The exterior is constructed of native limestone, quarried seven miles south of Victoria. Designed by John T. Comes of Pittsburg, the plans were slightly modified by architect John Marshall of Topeka. The Romanesque structure was built in the form of a cross with two towers at its west end. On the facade above the rose window is a stone statue of its patron, St. Fidelis. The church is 220 feet long, 110 feet wide at the transept and 75 feet wide at the nave. Its ceiling is 44 feet above the ground and the towers rise 141 feet above the Kansas prairie.
William Jennings Bryan coined it "The Cathedral of the Plains." It has been named to the National Register of Historic Sites. On 21 February 2014, the church was decreed by Pope Francis to be a basilica, the first in Kansas.
The St. Fidelis parish has been served by the following priests:
1876 Rev. Adolf Willbert
Rev. Valentine Sommereisen
1878 Rev. Matthew Hau, O.M.Cap.
Rev. Joseph Callisanctius Mayershoefer, O.M.Cap.
1881 Rev. Anthony Schuermann, O.M.Cap.
1885 Rev. James Muench, O.M.Cap.
1887 Rev. Anselm Bayerau, O.M.Cap.
1889 Rev. Gabriel Spaeth, O.M.Cap.
1891 Rev. Mathew Savelsberg, O.M.Cap.
1894 Rev. Gabriel Spaeth, O.M.Cap.
1900 Rev. Leo Egger, O.M.Cap.
1903 Rev. Chilian Lutz, O.M.Cap.
1906 Rev. Jerome Mueller, O.M.Cap.
1912 Rev. Leo Egger, O.M.Cap.
1915 Rev. Jerome Mueller, O.M.Cap.
1918 Rev. Henry Kluepfer, O.M.Cap.
1921 Rev. Placidus Wolker, O.M.Cap.
1923 Rev. Cassian Hartl, O.M.Cap.
1927 Rev. George Karlin, O.M.Cap.
1929 Rev. Justin Walz, O.M.Cap.
1930 Rev. Simon Knupfer, O.M.Cap.
1936 Rev. Ildephonse Roeckl, O.F.M. Cap.
1939 Rev. Alban Hammel, O.M.Cap.
1940 Rev. Irenaeus Reinl, O.F.M.Cap.
1941 Rev. Raphael Engel, O.F.M.Cap.
1947 Rev. Irenaeus Reinl, O.F.M.Cap.
1954 Rev. Robert Meis, O.F.M.Cap.
1955 Rev. Ernest Horning, O.F.M.Cap.
1960 Rev. Fabian Kekich, O.F.M.Cap.
1966 Rev. Hugh L. Rauwolf, O.F.M.Cap.
1968 Rev. Paulinus I. Karlin, O.F.M.Cap.
1970 Rev. Neal Mahaffey, O.F.M.Cap.
1971 Rev. Felix R. Petrovsky, O.F.M.Cap.
1978 Rev. Michael Scully, O.F.M.Cap.
1981 Rev. Gene Emrisek, O.F.M.Cap.
1983 Rev. Gilmary Tallman, O.F.M.Cap.
Rev. Mike Scully, O.F.M. Cap.
At Home in Ellis County, Kansas: 1867-1992. Hays, KS: Ellis County Historical Society, 1991.
The Golden Jubilee of German-Russian Settlements of Ellis and Rush Counties, Kansas, 1926.
"Faith and Courage . . . 100 Year Legacy." 2011.
Saint Fidelis Cemetery (findagrave.com)
Transcription of the First Catholic Cemetery (used from 1873-1899)