Christ the King Chapel At Christendom College Taking Shape

Photos: Christendom College

One of the last authentically Catholic colleges in the U.S. is Christendom College.  For this reason I highly recommend traditional Catholic families send their kids here to study.  Christendom is a trusted name that has made an enormous impact upon the landscape of North American Catholicism.  Its zealous founder, Dr. Warren Carroll, was a firm believer in the best possible liberal arts education for the next generation of Catholic youth and thankfully the College has remained true to its original mandate.   Students can earn degrees in Classics, Philosophy, Theology, English, History, Political Science, Mathematics, Economics, as well as an MA in Theological Studies. 

From the College's official website, such a breath of fresh air to read this truth bomb that resonates with all serious Catholics who are looking for the best possible university education for their children: "Founded in 1977 in response to the devastating blow inflicted on Catholic higher education by the cultural revolution which swept across America in the 1960s, Christendom's goal is to provide a truly Catholic education in fidelity to the Magisterium of the Catholic Church and thereby to prepare students for their role of restoring all things in Christ."

The College's main campus is located in Front Royal, Virginia, overlooking the beautiful Shenandoah River.  The property consists of a picturesque landscape valley with stunning views that include the distant Blue Ridge Mountains.  Since its founding, Christendom has had more than one chapel.  The current chapel, although beautiful in and of itself, was deemed too small for the growing student population.  The long-awaited new chapel, a pastiche of the Gothic Revival, was built in the footprint of beautiful churches of the past.  An affordable design was chosen and it was constructed in 2020, fittingly situated atop the highest point of elevation on the campus, visible from nearby Interstate Highway 66 that leads to Washington, D.C.  In an age of visual ambiguity (an invention of the Mannerists), the point of rest of the Christendom campus is now this magnificent new composition, a point of immense beauty and complexity where the eye can pause, wonder, ponder, meditate and behold.  It will be called Christ the King Chapel, to glorify the universal kingship of Christ.  

Pope Benedict blessed the cornerstone in 2008, which was brought to the Vatican for that purpose.  During that same audience he was shown architectural prints of the project, while he noted with pleasure their beauty.  Great thought and planning has gone into the new construction, which effectively captures the central experience of church architecture.  The architects are O'Brien and Keane of Arlington, Virginia.  The architects have created a truly imaginative structure which speaks the language of "beauty" and "correctness," while guiding the heart and soul to other-worldly thoughts.  Surely the great Vitruvius would approve, while being impressed by the inner stillness of this unique version of Neo-Gothic.  Indeed, great imaginative attention has been given to every detail as the interior is now being finished.  Soon construction and decoration will be completed and all are looking forward with great anticipation to the dedication.    

A project of this size and magnitude, a bequeath to generations of future students, comes with a price tag.  The completed chapel will boast 114 sainted glass windows, an 116 foot high Gothic tower, and a seating capacity of about 760.  For more details on the project or to become a sponsor and make a gift to this worthy cause, see HERE.  Below is an image of the interior ceiling under the tower showing the ceiling fresco taking shape, the work of a graduate of the College by the name of Mandy Hain.  

Below is a sample window, a first look at the "music" angel that will be included in the main rose window of the chapel facade.  Ultimately the rose window will include seven such angels in a circle, each holding different images of the liberal arts while surrounding Our Lady in the middle, the Seat of Wisdom.  In Medieval Catholic thought, the seven liberal arts were music, grammar, rhetoric, logic, geometry, arithmetic, and astronomy.  Of course this also includes other subjects such as philosophy, literature, languages, history, sciences and more.  The traditional liberal arts curriculum is aimed at creating the best possible young person, aimed at imparting general knowledge while developing general intellectual capacities for a well-formed adult.    

Below is a window depicting the Resurrection of Christ, positioned on the transept wall.  This window is an antique that was made in the Tyrol and taken from an early twentieth century church in Philadelphia that was closed.  The opposite window (not pictured) of the Nativity, matches and is from the same original church.  These two precious antiques, dating from about one-hundred years ago, found a new home here and were retrofitted perfectly.  The color in stained glass windows is in the glass.  The stunning illusion of light and shadow that emanates around the giant lead matrix is nothing short of heavenly with the noonday winter sun.  These windows are but a sample of all the stained glass windows, new and old that will be used in the new chapel.  Each window is a precious work of art that gives resonance and meaning even beyond the images themselves.  Beyer Studio of Philadelphia has done a terrific job in bringing the window project together to a completion in the cohesive whole of the church design.         

Soon 35-foot spires will be fixed to the two front towers, bringing to a completion the majestic exterior silhouette.  

Congratulations to the Christendom community on this new chapel which hopefully will stand for 1,000 years.  Dante once wrote, "Art is the grandchild of God."  Indeed, this new chapel is a work of art, a triumph that is related directly to God.  Let us rejoice and be glad (Psalm 118:24).  Below, the 12 new bronze bells from the McShane Bell Company are "baptized" on the Feast of Christ the King in the year 2020.     

Below is what the final version will look like, an architectural print from the noted architects, O'Brien and Keane of Virginia.  I encourage readers to take a look at the 92-page brochure of the project, seen here.   

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