Chapel of Our Lady Help of Christians

Chapel early

The chapel of Our Lady Help of Christians located on the corner of Union Road and Genesee Street is Cheektowaga’s first church erected and dedicated in 1853. The chapel owes its origin to a vow made on the high sea during a violent storm.  On November 11, 1836 Joseph Batt with his wife and eight children left Havre, France on the sailing vessel Marie. After a few days a terrible storm arose depriving the ship of its sails and masts. Joseph Batt a pious and God fearing man sought refuge in prayer and implored the aid of Mary, the Star of the Sea, the Help of Christians. He then vowed should he and his family be spared he would in America build a chapel in honor of the Blessed Mother of God. His prayer was answered and they soon settled in Cheektowaga in June 1837. In 1851 Joseph Batt donated 3 acres of land for the chapel, a school and a graveyard. By 1864 pilgrimages were being made to the chapel and stories of mysterious cures began. The pilgrimages grew and had later attracted 10,000 people.  The parish also grew and required a new church which was built in 1959.  The chapel later fell into disrepair and was closed from 1969 to 1975. A volunteer restoration began in 1971 allowing the chapel to reopen in 1975 and on December 14, 1978 the U.S. Department of Interior named the chapel on the register of National Historic Sites.