chapel.jpg    CHAPEL OF ST. ANTHONY OF PADUA – Festina, Iowa

This chapel is known as the “world’s smallest church.” It was built in 1885 and measures fourteen feet by twenty feet. The belfry is forty feet high.

Constructed of stones quarried at Snake Hollow, Joseph Spielman donated $20 toward a bell and Johann Gaertner, then 92 years of age, donated $75 to pay for the wood used in building the chapel. Frank Joseph Huber and his wife, Mary Ann, paid the balance. The chapel dedication took place in 1886. 

On June 27, 1887, Johann Gaertner died, and on Nov. 23, 1887, Frank Joseph Huber died. Mary Ann carried along the work of maintaining the chapel. In 1888 she had the vestibule added on the Chapel with a belfry 40 feet high. In 1903, stained glass windows were installed, donated by Mary Ann Huber.

The chapel proper is 14′ by 20′, the belfry is 40 feet high, and it seats 8 people. The F. J. Huber family maintained it until the summer of 1924, when St. Anthony’s Chapel Association, composed of 65 grandchildren of Marie Anna Huber, was formed for the purpose of maintaining it.

The church is currently a mission of " Our Lady of Seven Dolors" Church of Festina, Iowa, and is kept up by the living family members of Johann Gaertner and Frank Joseph Huber. Each year, on the Sunday closest to June 13, the feast of St. Anthony of Padua mass is offered on its miniature altar.

Admission – None

Directions – just off of State Highway 150

Hours – during daylight hours

Credit Cards – None

Phone – none


  1. julie reed says:

    i am a descendent of johann gaertner and live in ames iowa. i was there at the 1985 get together with some members of my family. this was a very memorable time!

  2. Jerry Baker says:

    It’s been around 40 years, since I visited that church in Festina. At that time, the store in Festina was run by a Mrs. Schneeberger, whose maiden name was Huber,

    My great-great-grandfather Franz Leichtnam, a native of Olsberg, Lorraine, settled there in 1851, with his wife, Anna Maria née “Mueller,” and 3 sons, Michael, John and Casper. Olsberg, which also has a chapel of St. Anthony of Padua, is now in the French Département of Moselle.

    Michael, my great-grandfather, was born at Zweibrucken, Germany, in 1833. His name, in the US was changed to “Leichtman.” He is buried in St. Joseph’s Cemetery, in New Hampton, where many of his descendants live.

  3. My sister visited this very church with my neice never been there before when she visited the church my neice saw a lady there the lady had died a very long time ago She told my sister that the lady was about my sisters age when she died she died of bee stings and her name was vickie well my sister walked over by the gravestones and one of the stones said victoria If anyone knows the story of this women let me know.

  4. Myra Schnuelle says:

    I am a decendant of the founders of the church, my dad was Dale was the of son of Bertha Schissel Hageman, she was the daughter of Alphonse Schissel and he was the son of John Baptiste Schissel whom married Philomena Huber, and her parents were Frank and Mary Ann Gaertner and Mary’s father was Johann Peter Gaertner.

  5. Luke Schissel says:

    I was born near Ossian and visited this site with my familly from birth. My grandfather Joseph
    was born just below Festina on the Buchiet farm in 1875. I am told that I am related to Hubers, perhaps by marriage. The last caretaker may have been a Schissel. Bill Funke is my father’s nephew.
    My family visited the chapel every year on Memorial day with a picnic. While I no longer live in the area, I visit and sign the register at least once a year or more. A beautiful site, a blessed site.

  6. Jeanine Liston says:

    I am sending a photo, snail mail) of my first cousin, Imogene Hauber Holder. Taken at her wedding to Ven Holder in 1942. She was the Great-grandaughter of Mary Ann Gaertner Huber. She was told her great-grandmother was a cousin of St. Anthony. She was a wonderful person and I am wondering if anyone knows the names of the people in her wedding party. Thanks.

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