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Building the Blessed Sacrament Chapel

Another foray into the inner sanctum of Archives has produced another gem. In the Properties/Buildings/Shrines area is a large Hollinger box with a plethora of information about the Blessed Sacrament Chapel. One of the folders within that box contains invoices and other communications regarding the building of this gorgeous chapel.

The invoice that particularly struck me was the one dated Aug. 29, 1923, from the Daprato Statuary Company’s Chicago studio. This was the bill for the 8,000-pound block of Carrara marble as well as for the design for the altar and platform upon which the monstrance resides. The total bill for this altar was $29,500. This invoice also caught my eye because the printing is stunningly beautiful!

The Congregation received permission for perpetual adoration of the Eucharist after Mother Mary Cleophas Foley, general superior from 1890 to 1926, was granted a private audience with Pope Pius X on Nov. 19, 1913. On June 10, 1914, the Right Rev. Francis Silas Marean Chatard, bishop of Indianapolis, formally opened Perpetual Exposition in the crypt of the Church of the Immaculate Conception. On June 7, 1920, the cornerstone of the chapel was laid. Inside the cornerstone is a box that contains a list of the Sisters of Providence who were living at that time, some medals, a relic of Saint Mother Theodore Guerin, and a short history of the “Development of Devotion to the Blessed Sacrament at Saint Mary’s.”

Four years later, on May 19, the Blessed Sacrament Chapel was consecrated by the Most Rev. Joseph Chatrand, bishop of Indianapolis. The consecration included a procession as the Eucharist was transferred from the crypt of the church to the chapel.

Included in the Hollinger box is a file containing information about the donations that were received for the building of this magnificent chapel. A ledger lists the names of people who donated to this sacred structure. Each donation, from the smallest at 50 cents to the largest in the thousands of dollars, was received in deepest gratitude by the Congregation. Also inside this file is a typed page from Sister Ann Kathleen Brawley (RIP), former archivist of the Congregation. Sister Ann Kathleen wrote:

“ … most of the cost of the erection of the Blessed Sacrament Chapel was covered by the gifts and donations from the family and friends of the Sisters. … All of the jewels and most of the gold in the monstrance came from the families of the Sisters. According to correspondence there were many jewels left over and returned to us to be used in other sacred vessels. …”

To learn more about the Chapel of Divine Love as Bishop Chartrand called it during its consecration in 1924, visit our website.

An interesting side note about the Daprato Statuary Company is that it is still in business today with offices in Chicago, New York and Pietrasanta, Italy, just as they were in the 1920s! You can learn more about the company by visiting its website.

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Connie McCammon

Connie McCammon worked in the communications office for the Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods.

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