Partnership explores Mount art, history

Benedictine College students study history, significance of Choir Chapel windows

Benedictine College students shared the story behind the stained glass in the Mount St. Scholastica Choir Chapel at a “Discovery Day” presentation on April 15.

Their project was the first of what is hoped will be a series of projects partnering Benedictine College students and the Benedictine Sisters in an examination of art at Mount St. Scholastica.

Discovery Day Windows History Students"I'm so glad I decided to propose this project,” said Sister Judith Sutera, who worked with the students. “There are so many interesting things to explore here that I'm sure I could offer them new 'discoveries' for years. The students were a delight."

Discovery Day is an annual tradition at Benedictine College during which classes are canceled and students present research they have conducted outside the classroom. Benedictine College was formed when Mount St. Scholastica College, operated by the Benedictine Sisters, merged with Benedictine College in 1971.

“This project refreshes our ongoing relationships with Benedictine College and brings students home, as it were, to Mount St. Scholastica for study and research,” said Sister Anne Shepard, prioress.

Natalie Gallatin led the four students in this year’s project. Others were Michaela Flax, Catherine Glenn and Carlyn Olson. They dove deep into the Mount’s archives with assistance from archivist Sister Genevieve Robinson. They examined correspondence between the sisters who led chapel renovation efforts in the mid-1940s and the project’s architect and the artists commissioned to design the stained glass windows, mosaic and light fixtures.

Their research found a strained relationship between the sisters and the original artist, Alfonso Ianelli, which eventually led to his withdrawal from the project in favor of the artist whose design appears in the windows today: Francis Deck.

The students visited with sisters who remembered firsthand the renovation process, including Sister Paula Howard and Sister Mary Blaise Cillessen. Sisters Paula and Mary Blaise, as well as Sister Judith, appeared in a video for the project prepared by a fifth Benedictine student, Alexander Vu.

The students prepared a brochure about the windows as part of their project. The brochure, and the video, will be available online at a future date.