Here at Mendota (where the rivers meet) missionaries ministered to both Indians and settlers, enduring the hardships of a sprawling wilderness that was the Minnesota country. In 1842, Father Lucien Galtier built a small, log chapel with only two windows, where the Catholics of St. Peter's Parish worshipped for nearly eleven years. Erected by the Minnesota Historical Society
In 1844 Father Augustin Ravoux, who had already spent three years in the area, arrived at Mendota to assist Father Galtier. When Father Galtier left to serve another parish in the fall of that year, Father Ravoux assumed full responsibility for ministering to the thriving Mendota community, which was the American Fur Company's chief trading center with the Dakota (Sioux) Indians in Minnesota territory.
Father Ravoux had this church constructed in 1853. Built of limestone quarried nearby and roofed with hand-split pine shingles, the entire structure measures only 35 by 75 feet, and the rear portion was originally used as living quarters for the pastor.
The steeple has been twice replaced; the original cross that topped the spire now hangs over the inside door. While alterations have changed the interior, the exterior remains much as it was in 1853.
This church still serves St. Peter's Parish and is the oldest church in continuous use in Minnesota. From its vantage point, it commands a spectacular view of the Minnesota and Mississippi Rivers and of Historic Fort Snelling.
[seal of The Minnesota Historical Society]