Sacred Heart Chapel
In 1966, the IHMs moved into the new Motherhouse, Villa Maria House of Studies, Immaculata, from Villa Maria Convent, West Chester, that had been the IHM Motherhouse from 1872. The center and heart of this new Villa Maria is Sacred Heart Chapel, a beautiful cruciform place of worship. The focus of the chapel is the spacious sanctuary enshrining the altar of sacrifice and the Tabernacle of bronze and gold. Behind the large marble crucifix, eloquent of the sufferings of our Savior, is the reredos of the Holy Spirit variegated gold mosaic.
Beautiful stained glass windows, executed by Conrad Pickel Studio of New Berlin, Wisconsin, reach from floor to ceiling in the nave of the chapel and illustrate the five Joyful and Glorious Mysteries of the Rosary. Each window is filled with events in the lives of Jesus and Mary. The beautifully carved marble Stations of the Cross which line the sides of the nave trace the sorrowful journey which make up the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary.
The two oblique windows connecting the nave of the chapel with Our Lady’s and St. Joseph’s Chapels depict St. Michael and the Guardian Angel. The windows in the transept chapels depict symbols of Our Lady and St. Joseph. The windows in the cloister corridors bear symbols of the apostles. The windows at either end of the transept chapels represent the Immaculate Heart of Mary watching over our IHM missions in North and South America, and Christ the Teacher blessing the children. During the early years, postulants occupied the left transept and faced the former window; the novices, preparing to become teachers, faced the latter. On either side of the mosaic reredos of the Holy Spirit, stained glass murals of wheat shafts and clustered grapes, symbolizing the Eucharist, bring our attention back to “the center and animating force of our lives.” (Faithful Witness - #28)
“Beautiful in its simplicity, Villa Maria Chapel is the embodiment of everything we cherish – all the intangibles that spur us on from day to day in our quest for holiness.” (Angelus – March, 1967).
IHM Chapel Windows
The photographs of the stained glass windows throughout this web
site were taken in Sacred Heart Chapel at Villa Maria House of Studies,
Immaculata, Pennsylvania. Fashioned from imported, mouth-blown antique
glass, some seventy-eight windows grace the cruciform chapel and
are embedded in walls flanked by Italian marble and framed in triangular
shapes. No matter the time of day or angle of light, there is a
resplendent interplay of images and reflections inspiring meditation
and enabling prayer.
The fleur-de-lis, emblem of our Immaculate Mother’s special
prerogatives, is the prevailing motif of ornamentation throughout
and can be seen in the windows and on the entry doors rendered
both in glass and in bronze.
On January 6, 1965, Mother Maria Pacis signed an agreement with
the Conrad Pickel Studio, Inc., of New Berlin, Wisconsin, to create
the magnificent array of windows according to the pre-approved designs
of the Pickel Studio and sketches for cartoons submitted by Sisters
Trinita Marie Amorosi and Marie Patrice Artis. Included among these
were selected titles of the Litany of Our Lady (east and west sides
of the transept) and the Joyful and Glorious Mysteries of the Rosary
(east and west sides of the nave).
The transept and the nave are linked on either side by oblique
windows, one depicting St. Michael and the other, a guardian angel
watching over a child at play. Windows bearing symbols representing
St. Paul and the Apostles light the cloister corridors that line
either side of the sacristy.
The transept is book-marked at one end by the Mary Immaculate
Window and at the other by Christ, the Teacher, blessing the children.
These windows are made of one-inch thick textured glass embedded
in epoxy resin and reinforced with cement. They dominate the side
chapels and remind all of the Congregation’s foundation and
its mission to serve the people of God in North and South America.
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