STL250: 1897 Making of Holy Family Chapel

As St. Louis turns 250 this year (learn more at STL250), the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet join the celebration by sharing bits of our own 175+ years of history in St. Louis, the city of our founding. Look for new posts on Fridays throughout 2014.

 Holy Family Chapel

The Story of Holy Family Chapel: 1897

Taken from Sister Lucida Savage's book THE CONGREGATION OF ST. JOSEPH OF CARONDELET.

The last important work undertaken by Reverend Mother Agatha [Guthrie] was the erection of Holy Family Chapel in Carondelet, the corner stone of which was laid on October 15, 1897, by Archbishop Kain of St. Louis. To the building and furnishing of this, she devoted the closing years of her life.

The chapel is late Romanesque in style, the lofty arches of the ceiling supported on ornate Corinthian columns. An ambulatory runs around three sides of the clerestory, beneath which, as a unique feature, are the Stations of the Cross in round medalions, forming part of the decorative scheme. In the sanctuary are three marble altars, the main one being the gift of Mary Gillick of St. Louis, mother of the architect [Aloysius F. Gillick].

A marble altar rail, presented by Mrs. Louise Sauer, encloses the transepts [ only sections of the altar rail were kept since the renovations], the north one of which is the Martyrs' Chapel. [The Martyrs' Altar is not made of marble but of wood carved by Joseph Litteneker, brother of the three Litteneker Sisters - Mary Julia, Mary Lidwina, Mary Mechtilda]

In the south transept is a memorial altar in black and white marble, above which is a sculptured panel representing the death of Saint Joseph. This and the statues of the Apostles set around the walls of the ground story [no longer there] and the Holy Family Group over the main altar, were done by Joseph Sibbel of New York. [He sculpted the statue of St. Patrick in St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York.]

Bishop Eis of Marquette was the donor of a fine pipe organ, and many other friends of the Congregation deemed it a privilege to contribute to the noble edifice, a monument to Reverend Mother Agatha's zeal for the beauty of God's House. She had, herself, saved for years gold ornaments and jewelry, given up to her by different Sisters at their entrance into the novitiate; and this was utilized in the making of a chalice, an exquisite bit of workmanship, which, a little larger than ordinary size, contains four hundred and fifty pennyweight of pure gold, and is set with opals, amethysts, topazes and diamonds. Three months of continuous work on the part of engravers produced beautiful designs, symbolic wheat and grapes in green and gold, and initials outlined with gems.

posted 3.21.14


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