Diocese of Joliet

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History of the Diocese of Joliet

The Unchartered Frontier...

In the 17th century there were brave men who
dared to test themselves against the unknown
in the New World.

In 1659 the Holy See created the Diocese of Quebec,
which included the territory known as the New France.
Illinois was part of this territory and thus under the
jurisdiction of the Diocese of Quebec.

In 1672 Pere Jacques Marquette and Louis Joliet made
their historic journey into the territory, through what we now know
as Wisconsin, to the Mississippi River, and then back up the Illinois River to Lake Michigan.  Other explorations followed, and then came the French settlers, unaware that their influence would continue more than 200 years later in the names of hamlets and cities that would rise up in Illinois—cities like Joliet and villages such as Bourbonnais, St. George, St. Anne, and L’Erable.

Approximately 130 years later, with the Declaration of Independence and the subsequent development of the United States, Joliet and the surrounding area came under the following dioceses: Baltimore (1789-1810), Bardstown (1810-1827), St. Louis (1827-1834), Vincennes, (1834-1844) and Chicago (1844-1949). It should be noted here that some of the area of what is now known as the Diocese of Joliet was, during the period 1844-1949, under the jurisdiction of the Rockford and Peoria dioceses.

On December 11, 1948, Pope Pius XII issued a decree establishing the Diocese of Joliet. It was created from seven counties in Illinois: DuPage, Kendall, Will, Grundy, Kankakee, Iroquois and Ford. Previously, DuPage, Will, Kankakee and Grundy counties were under the Archdiocese of Chicago; Ford and Iroquois were under the jurisdiction ofthe Peoria diocese, and Kendall County was in the Rockford Diocese.

Joliet became the fifth diocese to be created in Illinois and the 101st to be established in the United States. The Diocese of Joliet is approximately 110 miles long and 60 miles wide, extending from Roselle and Bensenville in the northern section of DuPage County to Gibson City and Paxton in the southern part of Ford County and from Wayne and Kinsman near the western line of the seven counties to Elmhurst on the Cook County line and Hopkins Park, near the Illinois-Indiana border in the east.


  • Cathedral of St. Raymond Nonnatus Dedication Book (1955)
  • Diocese of Joliet Twenty-fifth Anniversary book (1974)
  • Diocesan 50th Anniversary Book (1999) History of the Diocese of Joliet by Rev. Richard Walsh
  • Various articles from The Joliet Catholic Explorer and Christ is our Hope