Visiting Saint Joan of Arc Chapel – Marquette University, Milwaukee

Joan of Arc Chapel

Joan of Arc Chapel

On the campus of Marquette University in Milwaukee there’s a beautiful chapel.  That’s not unusual for a Jesuit college campus.  But this chapel wasn’t built on Marquette’s grounds this one, the Saint Joan of Arc Chapel, was built in the 15th century as the Chapelle de St. Martin de Sayssuel in the French village of Chasse in the Lyon region of France.

The chapel was purchased in 1926 by American millionaire Gertrude Hill Gavin who had it dismantled stone by stone and rebuilt, using the same stones, on her Long Island estate.  She commissioned noted stained glass artist Charles Connick of Boston to design four stained glass windows which he set into the 15th century stone mullions and traceries.

In 1964 the Rojtman family, having purchased Mrs. Gavin’s estate, donated the chapel to Marquette, absorbing the expense of having it disassembled, shipped and reassembled on the university’s campus.

Joan of Arc Chapel - Altar

Joan of Arc Chapel – Altar

Although the exterior of the chapel is of remarkable Gothic architecture, it’s what’s inside that is the Pièce de résistance; the Joan of Arc stone. Documents sent with the chapel show that in1429 this stone supported a statue of the Virgin Mary, before which Joan of Arc knelt and prayed then, kissed the stone prior to leading her countrymen into battle with the British in the Hundred Years War.

Original ecclesiastical contents were shipped with the chapel; a 15th century Gothic altar, a 14th century tapestry depicting the Virgin Mary, priests and angels, along with wooden prayer kneelers, a crucifix, a baptismal and a Gothic font, all these pre-date the tapestry and the chapel.  Oh, and those orb like things dotting the front lawn – 2nd century Roman urns.

Tapestry

Tapestry

The St. Joan of Arc Chapel is absolutely astounding. Seeing it, you can’t help but think of Ingrid Bergman who played the young Joan so beautifully in the 1948 movie Joan of Arc.

Images courtesy: Marquette University

Frances FolsomGuest writer Frances J. Folsom lives and writes in beautiful New England. She has written for many print magazines and has contributed to a range of travel guides. Frances can be reached by e-mail or through her personal blog. She lives in Cambridge Massachusetts.

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