Sacred Heart Chapel stands at the center of our monastery, and is at the heart of our monastic life. Here we gather morning, noon, and evening to praise God, offer thanksgiving, and pray for the needs of the world. The soaring structure, completed in 1931, features neo-gothic architecture, a native sandstone façade, and stained glass windows from Germany and Italy. In traditional fashion, the interior faces east, toward the rising sun, and toward which scripture tells us to look for the coming of our Lord.
Occupying the eastern portion of the chapel nave are the choir stalls, where Sisters and guests gather to chant the Liturgy of the Hours. The western end of the nave contains pews in which Sisters gather with guests to celebrate daily Eucharist. Situated in the center of the chapel, bridging both the choir in the east and the pews in the west, is a simple yet beautiful wooden altar. This arrangement gives visual expression to the reality of Christ’s presence with the Community, both as we are praying the Liturgy of the Hours and as we gather for Eucharist.
Dominating the western wall of the nave is a magnificent rose window, with the Sacred Heart of Jesus at its center. A lower arch encloses beautifully detailed lancet windows depicting St. Benedict flanked by his disciples St. Placid and St. Maurus. The apse is dominated by a triptych which illustrates the nativity, crucifixion, and ascension of Jesus.
The lower windows along the side aisles depict a series of women saints: HIldegard, Walburga, Gertrude, Agnes, and Thérèse of Lisieux. Also featured in these aisle windows are Jesus the Good Shepherd, King David, St. Anna and the child Mary, and the Guardian Angel. Fittingly, the image of King David stands just behind the choir stalls, where for over 100 years the Sisters have chanted the Psalms of David.
The soaring clerestory features windows crafted in Pietrasanto, Italy. These were installed in 1954 to replace the original translucent glass. Images from the life of Jesus and symbols of the Apostles are the primary motifs in these splendid windows.
Two of these upper windows feature Benedictine themes, illustrating events from the life of St. Benedict and the distinctive Benedictine medal. A series of painted images above the lower arches also reflect our Benedictine heritage.
Anchoring each side of the chapel entrance are carved wooden figures of Mary and Joseph. Among the other statuary within the chapel or just outside is Our Lady of Lourdes, St. Anthony, St. Joseph, St. Martin de Porres, and Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha. In the apse, life-sized statues of St. Benedict and St. Scholastica flank the two sides of the choir stalls, as if our patrons are joining us in chanting the liturgy.
The craftsmanship and artistry of the chapel serves as an offering to God. The beauty also moves the human spirit, drawing our minds and hearts to the Maker of everything good and beautiful. The many depictions of saints, angels, and images from the life of our Lord serve to instruct, inspire, and challenge us as day after day, year after year, decade after decade, we gather in this house of prayer and praise.
Incised on the chapel’s cast stone façade is the traditional Benedictine motto “ut in omnibus glorificetur Deus,” a Latin phrase which translates “that in all things God may be glorified.” This motto is echoed in the interior of the chapel, where it is inscribed along the contour of the soaring arch above the apse. As we gather each day in this beautiful chapel, we are continually reminded that our prayer, our ministry, and our community life are to be oriented toward the glory of God who loves us, sustains us, and calls us to worship.