The first church of Castroville is a small building located on the grounds of the Moye Retreat Center. It was the first Catholic Church built in Medina County and west of San Antonio.
The cornerstone of the very first St. Louis Church was laid September 12, 1844 by Jean-Marie Odin, first bishop of Texas, who visited just nine days after the first colonists arrived at the site to establish the town of Castroville. He celebrated Mass and placed the community under the patronage of St. Louis of France. The church was completed two years later and the formal dedication was conducted November 9, 1846 by Bishop Odin. Father Claude Dubuis, the first priest of Castroville, was assigned to the Parish in January 1847.
This tiny building served the parish of St. Louis for several years before a second and larger church was built just a block north of this one. The second church was completed and dedicated on Easter 1850 and was used for 20 years before begin razed when the third and final church was complete.
Since 1850, the smaller stone church has been used as a classroom for a school and religion lessons. The building was awarded a Texas Historical Marker in 1966 through the efforts of the Castro Garden Club and the congregation of the Sisters of Divine Providence. Repairs were made at various times through the years, and following the last restoration, the little church was rededicated in a ceremony by Bishop Bernard Popp on November 9, 1984. The church is now used for Mass only on special occasions, but is open to the public with access on the Moye Retreat Center grounds.
The present St. Louis Church faces Houston Square on Angelo Street. It dominates the historic district of the city of Castroville. The church was built between 1868 and 1870. Work began in 1868 and with the building complete except for the spire and the floor, the church was dedicated on August 25, 1870, the feast of St. Louis.
Local masons and carpenters constructed the church with native limestone and hand-hewn cypress under the direction of the parish pastor, Rev. Peter Richard, a native of Loire, France. 150 feet long and 52 feet wide, it was one of the largest Catholic churches in Texas at that time.
In 1908, the original spire was replaced with the taller spire seen today. Stained glass windows were also installed at that time. A major renovation was undertaken in 1972-73 which included a new roof, tile floors, re-plastered walls and central heating and cooling. The original altars, statues and locally built pews are still in use today.
A photo showing all three churches built by the parish is located in the vestibule of the church. You are welcome to take some time for quiet reflection in this beautiful historic church.