Mission of the Sacred Heart

Catholic missionaries reached Idaho in 1842 when Father Pierre Jean DeSmet traveled through the territory. Visiting the Coeur d’Alene tribe, the Indians greeted his party with an enthusiasm attributed to their century-old prophesy about black-robed men assisting the tribe. Unable to remain, DeSmet sent Jesuit missionaries to establish a ministry. The first incarnation of the Sacred Heart Mission was along the St. Joe River. Due to spring flooding, it was moved to a more suitable location in 1845, a knoll overlooking the Coeur d’Alene River. The Indians and Jesuits built a church and the mission became a flourishing settlement with a communal garden, pastures, and livestock. The Catholic mission was later relocated to the town of DeSmet in the late 1870s but the old church, known as Cataldo Mission, still stands.