A chapel of faith, hope and love

The oldest building in Wisconsin holds more than six hundred years of memories, including four years of my own.

St. Joan of Arc Chapel sits in the heart of Marquette University’s rapidly changing campus, nearly exactly as I remember it from my time on campus in the early 1980s.

We used to pop in for masses, when our schedule allowed, and I remember loving how the casual nature of the proceedings made them even more sincere.

There were a few benches, but we mostly sat on the floor. That’s where the heat seeped up anyway on cold winter afternoons. We could call out our intentions when the time came and that, too, made the mass seem more meaningful.

So, rather than praying formally for things like “those suffering from illness…” we prayed for Sarah’s mother, who was just diagnosed with cancer, because Sarah had come to the chapel that day and asked us to do so.

We also prayed for less dire intentions, like doing well on a final, or recovering from a broken heart.

I can’t say I was a regular attendee, but I can say I enjoyed every mass I ever attended in that tiny, spiritual place.

I like to think the community we built in those years, both secular and sacred, provided a foundation that continues to support us all these years later.

I thought about that yesterday when I stopped by the chapel on an impromptu campus visit. My prayer request that day (had we arrived at mass time) would have been one of gratitude for the lifelong friendships we made on campus during that special time (including my intramural basketball partner turned husband of 33 years).

Along with our classmates and friends, we have been through all of the terrible challenges and heart-swelling joy a full life offers and I thank Marquette University and the chapel it reveres for helping us develop the intellect to make our way in all of our chosen professions, the faith to appreciate that we aren’t alone on this journey and the capacity to enjoy a lifetime of love.

Ring out Ahoya!

The rather imposing statue of Père Marquette was not there back in 1982-86, but I think it provides an appropriately fierce forefront to the tiny but mighty chapel. Neither Fr. Marquette, nor St. Joan of Arc suffered fools gladly.
Though I’ve been to the chapel in all kinds of weather, I think it’s prettiest on a summer day.
I don’t remember this fountain being here, but maybe it was. Built beginning in 1420 in France, the Joan of Arc Chapel moved to Marquette in 1962. According to Marquette history, the chapel also includes, “a 13th-century Gothic altar and ‘Joan of Arc Stone.’ Backed by an official French endorsement of authenticity, the stone is believed to be one upon which Joan prayed for success before battle. The stone, reportedly kissed by the lips of the saint, was installed in the base of a wall niche behind the altar, and legend has it that it is always colder to the touch than the stones around it.”
I just know it was a lovely spot to stop for a little while in the middle of a busy, occasionally challenging day, and understand that we aren’t alone in this old world…and we won’t be in the next one either.

2 thoughts on “A chapel of faith, hope and love

  1. Well this was just a joy to read! It was pleasure to meet you that weekend. I went to Mass more then than ever and you perfectly captured that place and time and impact on our present lives.

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