Wednesday, May 13, 2015

The South's five smallest churches

Who has the bragging rights to the smallest church in America? You bet the contestants are in the South. 
            First up is the 10-foot by 20-foot church “deeded to Jesus Christ” in South Newport, Georgia, built in 1949 by Agnes Harper. There’s a bell tower, six chairs on each side of the aisle, stained glass windows and places to sit outside if you want make it a picnic. The 1998 bell tower is also a nice touch.
Chapel of the Madonna
            The Chapel of the Madonna outside White Castle, Louisiana, measures 8 feet by 8 feet, thus nabbing it the title as the “Smallest Church in the World” by Ripley’s Believe It or Not. Anthony Gullo built this chapel in 1903 after he prayed to the Virgin Mary to help heal his eldest son. Mass is held her every Aug. 15, the Day of the Assumption.
            Apparently Ripley’s is a two-timer.             At Thomas More College the small stone Monte Casino Chapel measures 8 feet high and was called the “Smallest Church in the World” by Ripley’s in 1922. It was built in 1878 by Benedictine Father Otto Kopf and Brother Albert Soltis, a German-born mason, as a quiet retreat at the Monte Casino Monastery in the hills of South Covington, Kentucky.
            One mile east of Warrenton, Texas, on Highway 237 lies the oldest Catholic Church in Fayette County. It’s also the smallest chapel in Texas — how’s that for a Texas brag? Circa-1915 St. Martin’s Church is only 12 feet by 16 feet, which inspired someone to proclaim it the “World’s Smallest Active Catholic Church” (we’re not sure who). Masses for the intentions left on the altar are celebrated monthly and there’s a minister and staff!
            Pause, pray and worship at the Traveler’s Chapel in Conway/Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, and sign the book before you leave. Built in 1972, this tiny church seats 12 and measures 12-feet by 24-feet. You can even get married there! If you want a look-see inside, check out this YouTube video of “Ray writing a prayer.”
            There are other small churches in America. Want to see more. Visit for a full list.

Cheré Coen is an award-winning travel writer specializing in the Deep South. She is also the author of “Forest Hill, Louisiana: A Bloom Town History,” “Haunted Lafayette, Louisiana” and “Exploring Cajun Country: A Historic Guide to Acadiana” and co-author of “Magic’s in the Bag: Creating Spellbinding Gris Gris Bags and Sachets.” Write her at

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