Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

A glorious sunset at St. John the Baptist Church March 27, 2011

THAT I APPRECIATE country churches should come as no surprise to those of you who’ve followed Minnesota Prairie Roots. I value their beauty, architecture, history, reverence and connection to the land and its people.

Therefore, I photograph these rural sanctuaries whenever possible. If a church door is unlocked, I’ll take you inside for a photographic tour. If not, you’ll at least see the exterior.

Others, like rural Carver resident Harriet Traxler, share my interest in photography and all things country. So when Harriet emailed images of a local rural church, St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in Faxon Township some four miles northwest of Belle Plaine, I asked if I could share her photos with you.

Because I struggled to pick my favorite of the four, shot around sunset on Friday, I’m publishing three of Harriet’s photos.

I hope you’ll agree with me that even on a cold Minnesota March day, these gorgeous photos warm the heart, and the soul.


Built around 1870, St. John the Baptist Catholic Church still holds Sunday Masses and has many young parishioners.

In the summer, the church is surrounded by cornfields.

The sun sets the sky on fire behind St. John the Baptist Catholic Church, rural Belle Plaine, Minnesota.

FYI: Harriet has published a series of barn books featuring barn and other rural images from her native Sibley County, Minnesota. To view her work, click here. Some of Harriet’s work will be featured in the spring issue of Minnesota Moments magazine.

© Text copyright 2011 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

© Photos copyright 2011 Harriet Traxler