The early settlers were Catholic, Low-Germans who immigrated from the state of Wesphalia, Germany. On August 25, 1838, Father Caspar H. Ostlangenberg celebrated the first mass in the home of William Harwerth. The first permanent church was a log church blessed by Father Ostlangenberg on May 5, 1839. Between 1842-1845 Bernard and Catherine Dingwerth donated fifteen acres that comprise the present church grounds. The second church was a brick structure consecrated by James Van De Velde, Bishop of Chicago, on May 5, 1850.
The process of building the third and present church was undertaken in September, 1880, during the pastorate of Father Anton Brefeld. One hundred families donated more than $30,000 for the construction of the church. These gifts were contributed within eight days. N.H. Merker of Saint Louis prepared the plans, which were approved by Bishop Baltes of Alton. Parishioners Henry Rutter and his son, Bernard, made the brick in their kiln, located in St. Libory. J. Henry Scheiper was the contractor. Volunteer parishioners donated their labor on the building project in many ways. Among them was hauling of construction materials by horse and wagon over dirt roads from the railroad station eleven miles away, for the honor and glory of God.
On October 22, 1882, the cornerstone of the church was laid by the Most Reverend Peter Joseph Baltes, Bishop of Alton. Almost one year later, on October 24, 1883, the church, since it was free of debt, was consecrated by Bishop Baltes. Excluding the donated labor, the entire cost was $37,257.49.
Additions were made to enhance the church: four new statues in 1883; two side altars in 1884; three bells installed in the belfry in 1888; new pews in 1894; stained glass windows in 1918; church roof replaced in 1932; and the church walls were waterproofed and the windows caulked in 1933.
The first major renovation was done in 1936. It included frescoing the church, installing thirteen new windows in the clerestory and vestibule. The total cost of the renovation was $5,713.14.
During the years 1971-1972, the second major renovation was undertaken. The high altar and side altars, communion rail, baptistry and pews were removed. A cry room, new altar, tabernacle, baptismal font, pews, and carpeting were installed. The interior was repainted. The total cost was $93,854.00.
On December 1, 1974, the church was designated as a historical landmark by the Saint Clair County Historical Society.
The third major renovation took place from 1989-1992. The center portion of the ceiling was replastered, the interior was repainted, air conditioning and bathrooms were installed, the organ was reconditioned, the exterior walls were waterproofed, new carpeting was installed throughout and the sidewalks were replaced. The total cost was $227,093.48.
The fourteen vigil lights on the walls of the church indicate this church is consecrated. Of the 129 parishes in the Diocese of Belleville, only nine have consecrated churches. It is a great honor for Saint Liborius Parish to have had TWO churches consecrated in their history. Three of the requisites for a church to be consecrated were: the alter must be made of genuine stone and in direct contact with the earth where the church is built; the parish must be free of dept; and there must be some promise of the permanence of the parish.
Saint Liborius started as a mission parish with three priests serving the spiritual needs of the parishioner form October, 1838 to March 1949. It's first resident pastor, Fr. August Brickwedde came in March, 1849. Msgr. John V. Fellner became the eleventh pastor when he was appointed in April, 1988. The 1990 parish census recorded 236 families with a total of 950 parishioners. Parish records show that as of June 30, 1991 there have been 4,263 baptisms, 1,057 marriages and 2,418 funerals.
Saint Liborius was the bishop of Le Mans, France, from348 A.D. until his death on June 9, 397 A.D. Saint Liborius is remembered mostly for the transference of his remains from the Cathedral at Le Mans to the Cathedral at Paderborn, Germany, in 836. Before the time of transfer, Charlemagne's oldest son, Kaiser Ludwig, was well acquainted with the Bishop of Le Mans. By Ludwig's suggestion the remains were moved to aid in the conversion of the Saxons in Germany. The alliance between Charlemagne and the Catholic Church made Ludwig somewhat of a church official. The Bishop subsequently complied with the request.
On May 1, 836, a large mass of people gathered in Le Mans to celebrate the relics of Saint Liborius. There was a loud outcry from the people when they heard that their beloved saint was to be taken from them. They believed that with the relocation of the saint's body would also go the protection afforded them throughout the years. They claimed, that aside from God, Saint Liborius was the one patron of their land. The Bishop commanded silence and spoke to the people. He told them it was their duty to care for those who young in their faith, such as the people in the new formed Diocese of Paderborn. "It was certainly known", said the Bishop, "that Kaiser Ludwig had given the order to move the remains. Whoever rebelled against this power rebelled against the will of God." Then the Bishop recalled the wonderful works of Saint Liborius. For these good works he proclaimed the mercy of God should be praised by all present. The clergy sang the hymn, Holy God We Praise Thy Name. It was started by the Bishop and spread throughout the crowd. After this dramatic scene, the relics of Saint Liborius were given to the Bishop of the See of Paderborn in far away Germany.
On May 28, 836, Pentecost Sunday, the relics reached Paderborn. About three miles from the Cathedral, they had to ford a stream. A series of miracles happened. Five people were freed from various illnesses. A deaf-mute began to praise God. A group of priests welcomed the relics of Saint Liborius. They fell to the ground to show honor to their newly acquired treasure. The relics were placed in the Cathedral where they now remain.
The peacock has become an important part of the story of the transference of the relics of Saint Liborius. In the Orient, the peacock is seen as a bird of paradise and as omen of heaven. In the Christian Church, the peacock, since ancient times, has symbolized the image of immortality and the glorious resurrection of Christ. This story has been passed down from generation to generation. The peacock joined the delegation from Paderborn as it left Le Mans with the relics of Saint Liborius. The peacock was said to have flown ahead of the delegation leading the way. Whenever the party halted, so did the peacock. It continued its flight as soon as the party resumed its journey. When the relics were received in Paderborn on Libory Hill, the peacock rested until the procession entered the Cathedral. At this time, the peacock flew to the Cathedral spire. As soon as the relics were inside, the bird fell dead to the earth.
As a remembrance of this, a fan of peacock feathers is carried in front of the relics of Saint Liborius during procession in Paderborn. This banner of feathers was a gift from the Diocese of Le Mans where the delegation first saw the feathers when they came to move the relics. They had never seen peacock feathers and were amazed at the sight. This was one of the many gifts exchanged between Le Mans and Paderborn. Their agreement of friendship endured throughout World War II. In 1730, a representation of the peacock appeared in the chapel built on Libory Hill in Paderborn. Since then, the image of the peacock has been associated with the image of Saint Liborius.
The Statue of Saint Liborius in the church in Saint Libory, Illinois was positioned on the high altar until 1972. The statue is presently located near the North entrance of the church.
As a bond of friendship developed between the people of Le Mans in France and the people of Paderborn in Germany, a similar bond of friendship started between the people of Saint Liborius in Illinois and the people of Saint Liborius in Paderborn, Germany. On August 8, 1989, Archbishop Johannes Joachim Degenhardt of the Archdiocese of Paderborn in Germany, celebrated Mass at Saint Liborius Church in St. Libory, Illinois. This was a sign of unity between the Mother Church of St. Liborius in Paderborn, Germany and the Sister Church of St. Liborius in St. Libory, Illinois. May God bless everyone through the intercession of Saint Liborius APOSTLE AND WITNESS OF JESUS CHRIST.