St. Scholastica Chapel
(information taken from the Dedication Book, 1940)
The interior of the chapel, which is sixty-four feet wide and one hundred forty-four feet long, is dominated by the main altar. The walls are sand-finished plaster, except for the wall dado of Botticino marble; the pillars are of red Verona marble with carved capitals of native Licina sandstone. The floor covering in the body of the chapel is dark brown rubber tile; the sanctuary is paved with diagonal slabs of Tennessee marble. The ceiling is arched in wood with panels of "acoustone," an acoustical tile.
Two rows of unobtrusive pews of Appalachian white oak, finished in a rich dark brown color, provide a seating capacity for seven hundred persons. All seats are within the pillars to allow a complete view of the altar. Handwork on the pew ends was done by expert woodcarvers, who were taught their trade in Oberammergau. Intricate woodcarving also decorates the confessionals, the portable episcopal throne and sedilia, and the artistically distinctive choir loft and organ grilles.
The wood carvings decorating the tympanums in the vestibule are rich in symbolism. They were designed and executed by William Rensing, of Kansas City, who learned the craft in Westphalia, Germany, where his father and grandfather were wood carvers. These wood carvings include traditional scenes from the lives of St. Benedict and St. Scholastica as well as symbols of their virtues: the sunflower for obedience, the lily for chastity, the empty cornucopia for poverty, the serpent for prudence. The two sides of the medal of St. Benedict face each other above the outer and inner doors of the main entrance, and are large enough for the lettering to be read.
The simple liturgical altar is of Botticino marble with carved symbolism shown in the frontal. The setting of the altar consists of a towering baldachin enclosing a beautiful marble reredos on which is a crucifix richly carved of marble and inlaid with mosaic. The steps and platform leading to the altar are of Rosso Verona marble. This same marble appears in the bases of the monolithic columns which support the baldachin. Four monoliths of Verde Alpi, the famous green marble of Italy, support the canopy which forms the baldachin. On the arch of this appears the lamb with the banner which is a symbol of Christ the Conqueror. The interior of the dome of the baldachin is entirely covered with Venetian gold mosaic, the mosaic that is made in the famous Venetian process which insures a golden hue for all time without danger of tarnish. The corpus of the cross is of Botticino marble with polished surfaces; the cross itself is of red Numidian marble with Venetian mosaic background. The immediate field that forms the background of the crucifix is of golden African onyx.
The marble side altars are of material and design to harmonize with the main altar and support beautifully carved Botticino marble statues highly polished. The Blessed Virgin is represented as Our Lady of Grace, and St. Joseph is depicted with the Child Jesus. The Infant God sits erect in his foster-father's arms with His right hand raised in blessing. All the bronze work is of individually hand-fashioned workmanship, exhibiting an art rendered in the truest spirit of offering and worship. The stations of the cross are of bronze, cast in the lost wax process, and produced in the Daprato studios at Pietrasanta, Italy, where they were hand chased and finished with frames of Botticino marble.
In the design and execution of these windows, three noted artists are deserving of recognition. Erhard Stoettner, German craftsman who, among other important works, helped in the restoration of the windows of the Cathedral of Notre Dame at Rheims, was the research artist who selected the colors and regulated other technical details. The design of both windows and figures is the work of Gerard Recke, American artist, who designed the windows in the chapel of Princeton University. Joseph Freney of Dublin, Ireland, was the artist who painted the faces and figures in the windows. The windows feature the seven women martyrs mentioned in the Latin canon (Eucharistic Prayer 1) of the Mass.