Richard Montalbano began collecting religious artifacts more than 40 years ago, enshrining them in a small chapel he built in his family’s furniture-making factory in Bellwood.
Over the years, his collection grew to more than 360 statues and 375 relics, and when he closed his factory in 2000, a special chapel was built to house them in the Visitation Parish Convent at 799 S. York Road in Elmhurst.
Open from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. every Sunday, the Crypt of the Saints also contains a library of more than 700 books, as well as its newest acquisition: a replica of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem made of thousands of pieces of olive wood from the Holy Land.
Admission is free, as are a wide range of holy cards and an absolutely remarkable book put together by Montalbano that contains the names of hundreds of saints and their patronages.
You can arrange for a group tour by calling Montalbano at 708-774-1946. He can often be found at the crypt from 9 to 10:30 a.m. on Sundays.
A video about Montalbano and the crypt can be viewed at www.shalomworldtv.org/videos/index/2110