It is said there are many reasons spirits of the departed refuse to pass from this world into the next. Some may have been so religiously devoted in life that they do not want to abandon the people and places they love. At the Legends and Lore of Illinois, we have found examples of some of the most religious ghosts in Illinois. But which ones will prove to be the most haunting?
10. Phantom Organist
Founded in 1828 by the United Methodist Church and originally known as Lebanon Seminary, McKendree University is the oldest college in the State of Illinois. Bothwell Chapel, one of the oldest buildings on campus, is home to a phantom organist whose otherworldly tones echo through the corridors. A former security guard claims to have heard this organ or piano music playing in the sanctuary after hours. Also, according to legend, a student hung himself in the bell tower, and to this day his ghost can be heard pacing the upper floors.
9. St. Anthony’s Ghostly Nun
St. Anthony’s Health Center began in 1925 when five Sisters of St. Francis traveled from Germany to America and settled in Alton to establish a hospital there. After raising donations, they purchased the Nazareth Home, a combination orphanage and infirmary, in 1925. This became the core of St. Anthony’s, with several additions over the next few decades. The physicians at St. Anthony’s are independent practitioners and not directly employed by the hospital. At least three ghosts are alleged to roam its halls, but one seen most frequently is the ghost of a former member of the order of nuns in residence at the hospital, the Sisters of St. Francis of the Martyr St. George. She has been spotted wandering the third floor near the sterile processing department.
8. Lourdes’ Ghostly Schoolmarm
Richard T. Crowe, Chicago’s most respected authority on local ghost lore, taught English and journalism at Lourdes High School in 1972/73. During that time, he heard stories about a nun who haunted the third floor. Tales of the phantom nun had been told for decades. Heavy footsteps were sometimes heard echoing down the empty corridor, and a ghostly specter was seen on more than one occasion. Stitch Hall, an auditorium added during the 1950s, also reportedly experienced this activity. Several years ago, Lourdes closed and John Hancock High School opened in its place. It is unknown whether the ghostly activity has continued.
7. Brother Otto
St. Bede Academy has a tradition of academic excellence dating back to 1890. For a century, this Benedictine school and abbey has prepared young men and women of the Illinois valley to enter college upon graduation. According to longtime campus legend, there are two eternal residents at the school. “Brother Otto” is the ghost of a monk who is sometimes seen on the third floor. His mortal life ended in a tragic accident, but now he is free to watch over his students for eternity. The second ghost to haunt St. Bede is named “Val.” Val was a janitor who stayed in a room above the stage. After his death, his room was used for storage, but his ghost is believed to turn lights on and off, open doors, and move furniture.
6. The Sisters of St. Francis
For more than 130 years, the Sisters of the Third Order of St. Francis have been caring for Peoria’s sick and infirm at St. Francis Medical Center. Some say that a few of those dedicated women have remained at their posts long after passing from this world. The hospital began in 1877, when five Catholic nuns purchased a two-story framed house along the Illinois River to provide care for area residents. Today, their hospital has over 600 beds and employs more than 800 physicians. Over the years, patients and staff have reported encountering two nuns who appear to comfort the sick before mysteriously disappearing. No one knows who they were in life, but their presence is appreciated.