Our Lady Seat of
Our lady Seat of Wisdom
Chapel is the crown jewel in the diadem of buildings which
comprise the Marist College campus.
When the chapel was
built in 1953, its circular design was one of the first for
a Catholic church in the United States. The altar dominates
the center with the congregation intimately flowing completely
around it. It was not until the Second Vatican Council in
1965 that churches began to move their altars into a similar
relationship with their parishioners.
Acting as contractor
and using simple building techniques, Brother Nilus built
the chapel with Marist Brothers' labor. Poured reinforced
concrete buttresses and walls support the laminated wood beams
holding up the roof.
Instead of stained glass
windows, Brother Nilus borrowed an idea of Eastman Kodak that
he had seen displayed in Grand Central Station. He lined the
upper inner perimeter of the chapel with photographic images
of the Virgin Mary. On sheets of heavy plastic he embedded
the images of a model portraying the Madonna with accompanying
quotes from scripture. The plastic sheets were suspended on
springs which compensated for the expansion from the sunlight
and the contraction during the night.
Depicting the Blessed
Virgin Mary was a professional model, Rita Hunt. She and her
husband were friends of Brother Nilus and she did the work
gratis. In a subsequent photo of the Descent of the Holy Spirit
on Mary and the Apostles, taken for the adjacent study hall,
the photographer used the same model along with some Marist
Brothers construction workers as the apostles.The photographic
session had to be repeated because one of the Marist apostles
had forgotten to take off his wrist watch!
the years, the images have faded through the bleaching action
of the sun.
Through its serenity
and spirituality, Our Lady Seat of Wisdom Chapel forms the
core, the anchor and the inspiration for the Marist College