Chapels I Have Known and Want to Know

December 20, 2010

The Christmas Almanac, holiday reading

I spent some time this weekend reading a new (to me) Christmas book called The Christmas Almanac, edited by Natasha Tabori Fried and Lena Tabori.  I especially liked the Victorian-looking illustrations that accompanied the short stories, recipes, songs, poems, and other tidbits compiled in this anthology.

An open book, The Christmas Almanac

 One of the stories, “The Miraculous Staircase” by Arthur Gordon, recounts the legend surrounding an itinerant carpenter who solved a seemingly insurmountable engineering problem regarding access to the choir loft of the Loretto Chapel in Santa Fe.  This mysterious carpenter built a spiral staircase, whose design even today puzzles architects and structural engineers.  After reading this story, I’d someday like to travel to Santa Fe to see the chapel and its miraculous staircase with my own eyes.  You can read more about the chapel at: http://www.lorettochapel.com/staircase.html.

The story started me thinking of other extraordinary chapels I’d like to visit someday, including the Rothko Chapel in Houston, Texas (http://www.rothkochapel.org) and Le Corbusier’s Ronchamp Chapel in France (http://www.galinsky.com/buildings/ronchamp).  I am drawn to these buildings, beautiful works of art and light.  I’d love to photograph their light-filled interiors.

Dreaming about future travel destinations inspired by this book

I just started browsing through National Geographic’s Sacred Places of a Lifetime: 500 of the World’s Most Peaceful and Powerful Destinations, and I’m sure this book will give me more chapels to add to my “Must-See” list.

Someday I’d like to return to the Matisse Chapel du Rosaire in Vence, France (http://www.abcgallery.com/M/matisse/matisse126.html).  My daughter and I saw it in June 2002.  I remember the blues, greens and yellows of the stained glass windows.  I didn’t take pictures of the interior (perhaps photos were not allowed), but I have my memories of sitting in that magical and sacred space.

We are very fortunate to have an awesome chapel in Seattle, the Chapel of St. Ignatius on the campus of Seattle University, designed by Steven Holl.  I love stopping by this light-inspired place for a few minutes of quiet contemplation.

Interior, Chapel of St. Ignatius, Seattle University

What special places have sacred significance for you?  Care to share?

One Response to “Chapels I Have Known and Want to Know”


  1. On Christmas Day we will go to St George’s Cathedral in Cape Town. Anglicans gathered from all over the world. Have seen the chapel at Ronchamp. I do love stained glass, especially more modern work like Le Corbusier.

    Went to a church in England, with a window by him. In memory of a girl who drowned while yachting. Can’t begin to imagine her parents worshipping in a church while looking up at that window?


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: