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The Chapel Interior in 1895


This photograph gives us the first view of the interior of the Chapel. Since only thirty years have passed since its construction, we may assume that the interior as we see it here is much the same as when Lamb decorated it and provided the fixtures.


The familiar mural of the Immaculate Conception is not before us. On the chancel wall, above the altar is a statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. We can find evidence of devotion to the Sacred Heart as far back as the eleventh and twelfth centuries. However, it was not until the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries that it became popular. The apparition of Jesus to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque (1647-1690) at the Visitandine Monastery at Paray-le-Monial, asking that devotion to His Sacred Heart be spread, stimulated a widespread devotion. The devotion was particularly strong among Jesuits and various religious orders. In the nineteenth century, novenas to the Sacred Heart were common in many Catholic parishes. In 1856, Pope Pius IX extended the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus to the Universal Church. 1856 was also the year of the foundation of Seton Hall, so it is not surprising that the college had a particular devotion to the Sacred Heart.


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Statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus


The Chapel has a traditional nineteenth century arrangement. A main altar on a three-step platform, or predella, with a central tabernacle flanked by gradines upon which are candlesticks. Flanking the main altar are two pedestals with angels holding additional candles. On the right and left, in from of the chancel arch, are side altars with polychrome, probably plaster, statues of the Blessed Virgin and St. Joseph. The photograph was probably taken during the Easter Season since the Paschal Candle is clearly visible to the left of the main altar. The dedication of the Chapel to Mary is indicated by the words "Ave, Gratia Plena, Dominus Tecum," (Hail, Full of Grace, the Lord is with You) above the chancel arch. Stenciling is evident on the chancel arch, the nave arches, behind the main altar and behind the side altars. The altars are of finely carved wood, and each has a different design. The candlesticks on the altars are different as well. Lighting is provided by gas lamps in the sanctuary and in the nave. The nave lamps rise from the floor in the center of the pews. The chancel wall is painted and decorated with stenciling. There appears to be an inscription running along the line of the arch, but it is impossible to decipher it. The base of the chancel wall has an elaborately carved wainscoting. The floor is either tiled or covered with a patterned carpet. The one window visible, at the far left of the photograph, has a central figure surrounded by light glass, probably grisaille.


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The Main Altar


An inspection of the main altar reveals the elaborate design and detailed carving. Gilded designs adorn the front panels of the altar. The tabernacle is built into the gradines. Above the tabernacle, a gothic canopy contains a free-standing crucifix. This is the typical altar design of the nineteenth and early twentieth century.


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The Altar of the Blessed Virgin


Equally fine and elaborate is the carving of the Altar of the Blessed Virgin. The statue is polychrome, probably of plaster. The candelabra flanking the statue are very ornate.