Saint Mary of the Immaculate Conception, Fredericksburg, Texas

Saint Mary of the Immaculate Conception Roman Catholic Church, Fredericksburb, Texas
Saint Mary of the Immaculate Conception Roman Catholic Church, Fredericksburb, Texas

Saint Mary of the Immaculate Conception

a German pioneer painted church in the central Texas Hill Country

Located in the center of the small town of Fredericksburg, Texas, the Roman Catholic Church of Saint Mary of the Immaculate Conception was built by the German pioneers who settled the central Texas Hill Country in the 19th century. Today, it is not only a beautiful church to visit, but also a symbol and memorial to the history of those early pioneers.

Saint Mary's Fredericksburg, TX
Saint Mary's Fredericksburg, TX

Everything in the church's architecture is deliberate. The church tower stands 137 feet high (the numbers 1, 3, and 7 are sacred numbers in many Christian traditions). The church itself is in the shape of a cross. There are five entrances and exits - symbolizing the five wounds of Christ.

the gardens of St. Mary's Church, Fredericksburg, Texas
interior of the sanctuary, St. Mary's, Fredericksburg, Texas

The German Catholics who settled in Fredericksburg established a congregation and a parish in 1848. They did not originally have a church building of their own, and conducted services in the ecumenical Vereins Kirche ("Society Church") in the center of town. By 1861, they were ready for a place of their own. The original St. Mary's Church ("Marienkirche") was constructed. By 1908 the congregation had outgrown the little stone church, and the current building ("New St. Mary's) was built next door.

Roman Catholic statue in Saint Mary's church Fredericksburg, Texas
statue of Mary and Jesus at Saint Mary's Church Fredericksburg, Texas, Roman Catholic religious art

I visited the church early on a weekday morning. It was quiet inside the sanctuary, and colorful light filtered softly through the beautiful stained glass windows lining the walls. I was struck immediately by the beauty and serenity of the sanctuary.

the altar at St. Mary's, Fredericksburg
the altar at St. Mary's, Fredericksburg

The emphasis of the art in the church is on the Holy Family. From the moment you approach the church and pass its beautiful flower gardens, you will pass by a statue of Mary, Joseph, and Jesus. The church interior, too, is dedicated to the Holy Family. The main altar, of course, is dedicated to Jesus. To each side of the church stand side altars to St. Joseph and the Virgin Mary.

To Catholics, the emphasis on the Holy Family is meant to remind worshipers of the importance of their own family, as well as of the sacred mysteries of Jesus' miraculous birth.

You can also visit the old church next door, which is open every day as a chapel in which people are welcome to sit and pray.

votive candles at St. Mary's Church
votive candles at the side altar to St. Mary's

More to see nearby in Fredericksburg, Texas

Saint Mary's built the lighted cross at the top of nearby Cross Mountain Park (the "Kreuzberg") in Fredericksburg. The cross was constructed on the site of an old Spanish explorer's shrine in the Texas Hill Country. The parish holds occasional services at Cross Mountain, including the traditional German-style Easter Fire Festival and the Easter Morning sunrise service.

Also check out the Vereins Kirche in the center of Fredericksburg. Today a museum, this little ecumenical meeting house was once home to the various congregations of the German pioneers who settled the area before the local Methodists, Catholics, and Lutherans were able to construct their own buildings in town.

historic church interior, Fredericksburg, Texas
the pulpit in the historic Church of St. Mary, Fredericksburg, Texas

Texas Painted Churches?

Saint Mary's is an example of the unique style of churches found in the central Texas Hill Country called "painted churches". Mostly found in central Texas areas settled by 19th century German and Czech pioneers and immigrants, the churches are known for the beautiful colorful painted walls. Historically, the settlers did not have the funds to install beautiful stained glass windows such as those found in their home churches back in Europe. Instead, they decorated the walls in beautiful murals and patterns. You can find even more painted churches throughout the Hill Country. The best-known place to see them is in the old Czech settlement of Schulenberg, Texas (between San Antonio and Houston).

an example of a Texas painted church Texas Hill Country German Czech pioneer religious art, Fredericksburg, Texas, USA
an example of a Texas painted church

This video - St Mary's Church Documentary from Stellarblade LLC on Vimeo - shows some beautiful footage from both the interior and exterior of the beautiful church.

Visiting St. Mary's Church in Fredericksburg

A short guided tour of the church is held after the 9 am and 11:15 am Mass every Sunday.  Tours are also available by appointment.

Official church website:

The church is located at 304 W San Antonio St, Fredericksburg, TX 78624, United States