Sisters of St. Paul of Chartres
The love of Christ
His tenderness and
goodness to all
Soeurs de Saint Paul de Chartres
Via della Vignaccia, 193
00163 Rome, Italy
Tel. No. 39 06 66 41 89 36
Fax 39 06 66 41 40 13
CHAPEL OF THE GENERALATE
Blessed by Eugene Cardinal Tisserant
October 20, 1968
The CHAPEL lends itself as a symbol of several realities:
1. Tent: this was the idea of the architect in as much as the two peaks were originally designed to be of the same height. However, while the construction was in progress he had second thoughts and was inspired to effect a change ---an upward sweep towards the sky, with the Cross at the top.
It seems that this change does not detract from the impression of a tent.
At this point it is logical to think of the sanctuary as the Holy of Holies and the tabernacle reminds one of the Ark of the Covenant.
These considerations coincide with the architect's mind that the white marble band (quarried, like the rose flooring, from Assisi) starting from the sanctuary is a symbol of the river of living water flowing from the Temple.
2. Boat: the interior of the chapel is "void." Not a single pillar supports the vault. There is ample space for prayer, for contemplation in the light reflected by the stained glass windows.
In this instance the tabernacle makes one think of a rudder or a knot (more of a bow tie perhaps than of a cable knots) in the sense of link, of vital center -- the Eucharist is the center of life.
The chapel could also symbolize the "Dromadaire" the ship that brought our Sisters to Guiana, Cayenne in 1727.
The altar table is a single slab of raw marble not wrought or refined by human hands save for its extraction from the quarry and the smoothened portions (on which the liturgical vessels are placed and as protection for the liturgical vestments). The altar, therefore, is in its "pristine state."
STAINED GLASS WINDOWS
The bay windows are of "Chartres blue" signifying the bond between Rome and Chartres. Our architect wanted to be of Cistercian pattern executed by Mr. Loire, master glass artist in Chartres. There are the lateral windows, especially the "cordon" originating from the bay windows, with a great deal of blue, and finishing off at the peak with yellow gold.
This upward sweep towards the light in the gold of the setting sun signifies celestial glory, the ascent towards eternal light. It is very striking. The sun plays an important role for this chapel.
Among the visitors who came to visit the chapel was a priest who, one day, brought a group and gave a marvelous description, for he was well acquainted with our chapel. Here is what he said:
"One day I discovered your chapel. I had been appointed as tourist guide in Rome for small groups. At one time I was asked this question: 'Rome is magnificent, we have visited beautiful ancient churches. But is there no contemporary construction that is both modern and beautiful?' Then and there I resolved to end our tour with a visit to your chapel."
And he added: "I always start my explanation in the hall, stressing the following: the Sisters arrive from the stairs and corridors to this hall. The ceiling is low. When the chapel doors is opened, one can see only the essential ---the tabernacle. Concerns, work, preoccupations are left behind in the hall. On entering the chapel one becomes aware of its beauty."
Extracts from FAX dated May 15, 1993
and a letter dated May 14, 1993 addressed by
Mother Renée de la Croix to the
Superior General, Mother Anne Marie Audet.