150 years at Chapel of St. Mary the Virgin

Correction: The celebration of the chapel was held on September 10th, 2009.

 

On September 10, 2010 Nashotah House celebrated the 150th birthday of the Chapel of St. Mary the Virgin with a Sung Eucharist and Service of Rededication. Our Dean and President, the Very Rev. Canon Robert S. Munday, preached; the Rt. Rev. Edward L. Salmon, Jr., Chairman of the Board of Trustees, administered the blessing and asperges to the newly renovated Chapel and its vesting room. Thanks to the overwhelming generosity of several donors, the historic Chapel, its vesting room and sacristy were refurbished in spring and summer 2010. Exterior work, such as tuck-pointing and sealing the stonework of the chapel, and interior work, such as the installation of hand milled stalls in the vesting room, restored the physical and spiritual keystone of our campus to her original beauty. But the crowning laurel of the project was the installation of two new stained glass windows on the west wall one dedicated to Our Lord Jesus Christ, the other to his Blessed Mother, our Chapel’s namesake.

Built as a successor to the Red Chapel, the Chapel of St. Sylvanus, whose name it was to have adopted, the Chapel of St. Mary the Virgin was so named at the request of a donor. Ground was broken for the new chapel in1859 by the first Missionary Bishop of Liberia, the Rt. Rev. John Payne, and its cornerstone laid by the first Missionary Bishop of the Episcopal Church, the Rt. Rev. Jackson Kemper.

The great tradition that first built this seminary in 1842 endures today at Nashotah House. But that great tradition antedates the House it built. It is the Apostolic tradition, the faith once delivered to the saints. And that faith, kept here in all its fullness, does something more than endure at Nashotah House today. It thrives at Nashotah House. And it is forming a new generation of priests ready, willing and empowered to carry the Gospel to a world perishing for want of it.

 

As St. Mary’s Chapel celebrates its 150th birthday, Michael, the one-ton bell roosting in the rugged tower just outside the Chapel, turns 125. And the two icons of the House enjoy something more than a physical proximity. Since its dedication on the Feast of St. Michael and All Angels, 1884, Michael has been calling the Nashotah House community to prayer three times each day, and as its hammer swings, the whole campus and every member of our community falls hush at the tolling of theAngelus. This is how the Daily Office begins every morning and evening in St.Mary’s Chapel—with a big bell ringing out a hymn of the Incarnation. And that explains why an old bell, a stone chapel with all its beautiful stained glass and woodwork are so highly prized at Nashotah House. It’s because we worship God Incarnate. It’s because we remember that the Holy Spirit has made his temple in creatures of flesh and blood; and even creatures of stone or glass or brass—even creatures of Bread and Wine—have an office in the worship of God and a share in the ministry of glorifying his Holy Name. Sharing the same birthday at Nashotah House, Michael the Bell and the Preaching Cross will be rededicated next month, fittingly enough, on the Feast of St. Michael and All Angels.

 

 

I worship the Creator of matter who became matter for my sake, who willed to take his abode in matter; who worked out my salvation through matter. Never will I cease honoring the matter which wrought my salvation!

—John of Damascus

Treatise on the Divine Images, 1.16