The interior of the chapel is an architectural and artistic treasure. It is Romanesque in style, with Corinthian pillars and windows of Bavarian stained glass. Altars of Italian marble are decorated with gold bronze, onyx pillars, and inlaid mosaics of Venetian glass and mother of pearl. Visitors will receive a guided tour which highlights the unique features of this exquisite chapel.
Tour Schedule - Please use 701 Franciscan Way entrance:
- Monday through Saturday 9-10:45 a.m., and 1-3 p.m.
- Sunday 1-3 p.m.
Tours are offered year-round and we ask that groups of 20 or more call ahead for an appointment, 608-784-2288.
"This chapel is well worth a visit--full of history, beautiful architecture, excellent workmanship. It is a La Crosse treasure and will exceed expectations." TripAdvisor reviewer
The Mary of the Angels and Perpetual Adoration Chapels at St. Rose Convent are symbolically rich, their details serving as tangible expressions of the mystery and beauty of the Christian faith. We invite you to take a virtual tour of our chapels and a walk-through tour the next time you visit St. Rose Convent.
Name of Chapel
Mary of the Angels Chapel in La Crosse was named after a tiny church built in early times in the marshlands below the town of Assisi, Italy. Abandoned and in disrepair, the church, St. Mary of the Portiuncula, was given to Francis of Assisi by the Benedictines to use as a place of prayer and as headquarters for himself and his followers.
The shape of the chapel symbolizes attributes of God. The high ceilings represent a God who transcends the finite world while the shape of the nave, transepts and sanctuary form a cross, acknowledging an immanent God who has been with humankind even through suffering and death.
In recent years, the baptismal font has been placed at the entranceway, as it is here, to remind those entering that they are called to a life of holiness by virtue of their baptism. It is not only vowed religious persons who are called, but all Christians through their baptism.
As one enters the chapel and turns to view the area just above the entrance door, a relief of Moses before the burning bush reminds the worshiper that this is a space in which God wishes to commune with his creatures and family.
The bronzed wooden statues located at the intersection of the nave, transepts, and sanctuary reflect three great periods in Christian history: nearest the ceiling are Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and Daniel, all prophets of the Hebrew scriptures. At each side of the sanctuary are Paul and Peter, the apostolic foundation of the Christian era. Nearest the intersection are Gregory the Great, Ambrose, Augustine and Jerome, doctors and teachers of the early church.
In the sanctuary skylight, a large circular stained-glass window portrays the Holy Spirit of God descending in a stream of light surrounded by heads of winged cherubs. The vaulted skylight is surrounded by four ornamental medallions: the liturgical symbols of the Bible, the Keys of God's Kingdom; the Cross of Christ; the Crown of Glory; and the fleur-de-lis, a symbol of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The sanctuary ceiling is finished in gold filigree on a background of blue.
A Greek cross and a sculpted rose, a symbol of Mary, adorn each hand-carved, red oak pew.
The central and uppermost medallion on the main altar carries the design of the Lamb of God from the Apocalypse, four medallions contain the symbols of the Gospel writers, and four are cruciform floral designs.
Mosaics - Symbols of the Eucharist are found in mosaics on the front of the main altar. Composed of green and gold Venetian glass and mother of pearl, the central medallion represents the story of the high priest Melchizedeck offering bread and wine, as recorded in the Hebrew scriptures. The medallion on the right recalls the loaves and fishes, and the one on the left, the wheat and grapes.
St. Joseph - St. Joseph is honored as protector of the Holy Family and as a guide and protector for congregations of women religious. Evidence of his aid in FSPA history demonstrates his fatherly interest in the well-being of the congregation.
St. Mary Magdalene - St. Francis of Assisi had a special devotion to St. Mary Magdalene and named some of his chapels in her honor.
St. Francis of Assisi. A large painting above the main altar depicts St. Francis of Assisi, founder of the Franciscan Order, at prayer in the little Chapel of Portiuncula as he is favored with a vision of Jesus and Mary surrounded by angelic hosts.
St. Clare and Second Order. This work represents the event that marks the beginning of the Second Order of St. Francis, popularly known as the Poor Clares. On Palm Sunday, 1212, Clare presented herself to Francis and his followers in Assisi and received the coarse habit and knotted cord signifying her commitment to a life of poverty and simplicity.
Third Order. This painting depicts St. Louis of France (1215-1270) and St. Elizabeth of Hungary (1207-1231), 12th century tertiaries, receiving the Franciscan cord symbolizing their following of Francis in devotion to Jesus and charity to the poor.
Apparition of Jesus to St. Margaret Mary. In this representation of Jesus appearing to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque (1647-1690) asking the faithful to honor him, the soldier's lance piercing the heart of Jesus is a symbol of God's great love and mercy for all women and men.
Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin. This is a companion piece to the Apparition of Jesus to St. Margaret Mary, illustrating the Gospel story of the angel Gabriel's message to Mary that she is to be the mother of the Son of God.
A promise made on March 19, 1865: “Dear Lord, accept this poor light. It is the best we can give You now, but if you will help us and bless the community, we will one day establish the perpetual adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and build for You as beautiful a chapel as our means will allow.”
Together, the Mary of the Angels and Perpetual Adoration Chapels feature more than 100 windows of Bavarian stained glass furnished by the Royal Bavarian Art Institute of Munich, Germany.
Emblems of the passion of Christ are held by angels in the four double windows on each side of the nave. The figures are set in a field of conventional design against a background of grisaille. Link to passion window.
A three-paneled window in the transept illustrates the parable of the wise and foolish virgins who waited for the coming of the Bridegroom, Jesus Christ.
This two-paneled window represents the Presentation of Our Lady in the Temple. Here, the youthful Mary is presented to the temple priests by her parents, St. Ann and St. Joachim.
This window portrays one of the most memorable scenes in the life of Jesus. Surrounded by little ones, Jesus demonstrates his love for children and their childlike qualities.
Three large, eight-petal rose windows carry the emblems of the theological virtues. Faith is symbolized by the cross in gold color, hope by an anchor in blue, and charity by a heart surrounded by flames symbolizing zeal and loving devotion. Link to rose window.
In 1923, a fire threatened to destroy St. Rose Convent and the beautiful chapels. But a statue of St. Michael had been placed in the vestibule just outside the main chapel doors with instructions from an early leader, Mother Antonia Herb, to guard and protect the sacred chapels. Though fire destroyed the west wing of St. Rose Convent, it stopped conspicuously short of the vestibule where St. Michael stood guard. That corridor alone and the chapels beyond were untouched by the fire. Link to statue.
The painting over the altar symbolizes the Triune God with the figure of the Father, the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove, and the angelic choirs all focused toward the presence of Jesus the Son in the consecrated bread. Link to altar photo.
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