In Gratitude: A Gift for Generations to Come | Watch This Space: The Lady Chapel

Apr 1, 2021

On this Easter weekend, we are absolutely thrilled to announce that the Lady Chapel restoration is almost complete.

We are grateful to the Riley Family for so generously underwriting this historic project. Jim and Ellen Riley, and their four adult daughters Brigid, Shannon, Kerry-Lynn, and Courtney have been a part of the Church of St. Ignatius Loyola for a decade and it holds a very special place in their hearts. Jim and Ellen’s four grandchildren were baptized at St. Ignatius and their daughter Courtney was married here in September of 2019. Two of their grandchildren attended the St. Ignatius Loyola Day Nursery.

The story of how this gift came about is beautiful. When the Church shut down last March, the parish began livestreaming Mass from the Lady Chapel at 5:30 P.M. each day. This jewel-like space dedicated to Our Lady, Mother of the Church became the spiritual centerpiece of the parish. Thousands of people worshiped with us, virtually, for the next several months. This set off a spark, inspiring the Riley’s to take a closer look at the Chapel. In discussions with Fr. Yesalonia and architect Michael Doyle, Principal of Acheson Doyle Partners Architects and parishioner at St. Ignatius, it became clear that visitors may be unaware of the Chapel beyond an imposing wooden door. The project was guided by the Riley’s wishes to honor the Blessed Virgin, to make the space more physically accessible and to properly restore the historical elements of the chapel.

Two weeks ago Conservator Ismael Checo and his associate, Pancracio Almonte, completed their work on the reredos. All of the wood elements on the altarpiece– the winged figures, four Jesuit Saints, and the crucifix have been painstakingly cleaned and repaired. The original painted panels, concealed for decades by thick fabric, have been cleaned, retouched, and authentically restored. A vibrant fleur-de-lis pattern, meant to evoke stained glass, is now visible.

The Chapel is now identified by large, bronze letters in the entryway frieze. Two metal gates have been installed, featuring strapwork motifs are based on the Baptistery design, the Jesuit IHS sunburst, and the “M” for Blessed Mary. These doors have thick glass and can be seen from the Narthex. The reredos will be lit.

St. Ignatius is looking forward to welcoming you back to the Lady Chapel very soon.