ROUND TOP, Texas – When you think of Texas, you probably picture the Alamo, rodeo and king-sized ranches. With many fascinating landmarks and destinations, one would never imagine Texas is home to one of the world’s smallest churches.
As you travel down highway TX 237, just one mile east of Warrarenton in Fayette County, you’ll come across a tiny structure that resembles some sort of tool shed, barn or playhouse. At a quick glance, one would never assume that this building is actually a place of worship and has existed for more than 100 years.
Located at 3490 South Highway 237, you’ll find the St. Martin Catholic Church, an 18 x 14 feet structure that is credited as the world’s smallest active worship Catholic church. Well at least, that’s what the sign next to the parish states: “Historical Worlds Smallest Active Worship Catholic Church St. Martins."
According to the Handbook of Texas, In the late 1880s, Fayette County was largely a rural farming region and had approximately sixty-five Catholic families, but no formal church existed. In 1888, St. Martin’s Church was constructed to accommodate those seeking to worship.
The original St. Martin's Catholic Church at Warrenton.Posted by Fayette Public Library / Fayette Heritage Museum & Archives on Tuesday, December 3, 2019
By 1915, most of the Catholics had moved away to urban areas. Granted permission by the Catholic Bishop, the church was demolished, and the lumber was used to build a school in Fayetteville. As for the remaining scraps, the pieces were used to build this small church on the same land as the original St. Martin.
The parish contains some of the original fixtures including the altar and tabernacle and statues from the original church. It has 12 benches that can hold about 20 people.
Although the size of the church has a limited occupancy, thousands of visitors visit the church and cemetery each year.
Today, masses for the intentions left on the altar are celebrated monthly. For more information on the time and date of the monthly masses, you can visit the parish’s bulletin here.