Settlers from Germany followed the Sauk River into Richmond from the 1850s and continued to flow in through the ensuing decades.  They were drawn by the vast farm land and encouraged by Homestead Act and the declaration of Statehood for Minnesota in 1858.  Father Francis Xavier Pierz envisioned an agricultural, Catholic community in the region and sent word to the old country of a “land of milk and honey” in Central Minnesota.  He invited the Benedictine monks of the newly founded St. John’s Abbey to the pastoral care of Richmond, and Benedictines have served the parish since.

The community of Richmond grew rapidly and became a center for the region.  As settlers continued to come the parish was forced to rebuild and enlarge their church three times, from the initial log church, built in 1856, until the present church was constructed in 1884.  Legends has it that the entire community was asked to stand in the area designated for the church site, and the church dimensions were drafted accordingly.  The current German Gothic style church can accommodate up to 700 people and includes a large choir loft with a Tracker Organ and Romanesque style paintings of the Fourteen Holy Helpers, of middle age German piety and intercession, produced by Count Berthold Von Imhoff.

Following worship of God, education was given second priority by the German settlers.  Along with sponsoring district schools throughout the region, the first church was converted into a school building in 1860.  It is survived today by the Saints Peter & Paul Parish School, which has its home in the fourth building constructed on parish property.  The school has inspired faith and educational achievement through quality Catholic education for generations in the Richmond community.

Saints Peter & Paul has always been a center of the Richmond community, and its members continue to mold a vibrant parish that nurtures Christian virtue. Saints Peter & Paul was twinned with St. Martin in 2011.

Significant dates in the history of Saints Peter & Paul

  • 1856  The parish is founded and the first church built.

  • 1858  A first rectory is constructed.

  • 1860  A frame church is completed to replace the original log church which had been outgrown.
    The old church was converted into a school.

  • 1864  The parish is assigned its first resident pastor, Fr. Cornelius Wittmann O.S.B.

  • 1866 A second frame church is completed, as the community again outgrew the church.

  • 1867  A second school, built from granite boulders, is constructed.

  • 1884 The current Church building is constructed and consecrated.

  • 1897  A third school building is completed.

  • 1898 The present rectory is completed.

  • 1909 A convent for the Benedictine sisters is added.

  • 1931 The Fourteen Holy Helpers, painted by Count Verthold Von Imhoff, are added to the ceiling.

  • 1959 The present school building (the forth on parish property) is completed.

  • 1971 Renovations are made to the church following the Second Vatican Council

  • 2013 The Gathering Space is dedicated.