Saturday, June 4, 2011

St Mary of the Woods College - The Shell Chapel

While I was teaching at White Violet, K2 roamed the St. Mary of the Woods campus on her own.   She made a special trip to see St. Anne's Shell Chapel.  [All photos except this first one are by K2]

The chapel was built to honor St Anne, who protected St. Mother Theodore and her fellow travelers on a ship during bad storms in 1843.   St. Mother Theodore prayed to St. Anne for protection and promised to build a chapel to honor her, which she did as soon as she got back to St. Mary of the Woods.   The chapel was completed in 1844.

The entrance looking in to the altar.

The door is protected by a beautiful wrought iron gate.  Inside this lovely little limestone building is an artistic treasure. 

All of the interior walls were plastered then set with shells collected from the Wabash River by the sisters.   Each wall was designed by St. Mother Theodore.

'St. Anne, pray for us.'

Notice the design on the base of the altar.

Shells frame the statue of St. Anne.

This set of shells tells the story of the stormy journey in 1843.

"And that the vessel was at the mercy of the wind and waves.   Mother Theodore made a promise to build a chapel."

A mosaic of the ship.   Notice all the different types of shells used for the mosaic.

Stained glass windows set in the walls.  Every inch of wall is decorated with shells.

The floor is mosaic, too.

Every year on St. Anne's Feast Day, the sisters clean up the chapel and replaced any broken shells.


  1. This article is very interesting, love little places like this, but, the true beauty of this story are the photos your daughter took of the chapel and all the shell work. AMAZING!!! She has a truly wonderful gift. I always enjoy the photos she takes, please pass that on and tell her to continue to learn and grow!!

  2. Those are great pictures. What a wonderful find! And I hope K2 keeps up with photography. She has a great eye. Love the story behind this.

  3. That is so amazing! It must have taken forever to build. I wonder if they just kept adding to it over many years?


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