The Chapel at St. Thomas More
The Chapel at St. Thomas More is modeled after the Chelsea Old Church (All Saints) in London, England -- more specifically the south chapel that St. Thomas More himself commissioned (in 1528) as a private chapel. It is where St. Thomas More would attend Mass and often serve the priest at the Altar. Here is where he also sang in the parish choir. The Chelsea Old Church is still an active place of worship though it is now an Anglican Church. The St. Thomas More Chapel is the only part of the Chelsea Old Church that survived the Blitz of World War II. In the summer of 2019, Fr. Russo, our Chancellor, had the opportunity to visit the Chelsea Old Church and took pictures of the St. Thomas More Chapel to provide a visual for the local architect firm that constructed our Chapel. Thus, our new school Chapel has an historical connection in its design and ties us more closely to our patron. Its size was specifically determined to allow an entire STM class (whether freshmen, sophomores, juniors or seniors) to assemble together for liturgical events.
The Tabernacle: This is the primary jewel of every church/chapel because it houses the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. This new Tabernacle was crafted in Spain.
The Sanctuary Window: Modeled after the St. Thomas More Chapel in the Chelsea Old Church, the window features the Coat of Arms of the More family (the moorhens) and the crest of our school. The school crest, designed at our school’s founding in 1982, contains the Tudor Rose (the traditional floral heraldic emblem of England after the Tudor King Henry VIII, under whom St. Thomas More served as Lord Chancellor of England) and a likeness of the actual signature of the saint.
The Altar: The Altar of Sacrifice was taken from the previous school chapel and re-stained – note the Tudor Rose in the center. It was constructed by Ed Boustany (now Deacon) and his brother James Boustany in the early days of Parents for Light. A matching Altar for the Tabernacle was recently constructed by the same two men.
The Stations of the Cross: The fourteen stations were crafted in Italy. They are gold framed with multi-color scenes and are made of wood.
The Two Niche Paintings: One painting is a copy of the official portrait of St. Thomas More when he was Lord Chancellor of England, the other
painting is of the teenage virgin/martyr St. Maria Goretti. Above each painting are reminders of the virtues that marked each of the Saints’ life, virtues that we strive to teach our students: St. Thomas More - Truth, Conscience, Servant and St. Maria Goretti - Purity, Forgiveness, Youth. The paintings are placed in niches designed in likeness to the St. Thomas More Chapel in the Chelsea Old Church.
Framed Letters: Beneath each of the two niche paintings are copies of letters that tie us to the respective saints mentioned above. One letter is from St. Thomas More written to his daughter, Margaret (Meg), on the evening before his execution. The other letter is a copy written to the world by Alessandro Serenelli, the man who murdered St. Maria Goretti (see her photo at top right). Alessandro converted while in prison after St. Maria Goretti appeared to him holding a bouquet of lilies. When he was released from prison, he visited St. Maria Goretti’s Mother, Assunta (see photo), and begged her forgiveness. Assunta forgave him, and they attended Mass together the next day, receiving Holy Communion side by side.
Relics: A first class relic of St. Maria Goretti (part of the body) is enshrined on the wall to the left of her painting. A third-class relic of St. Thomas More (a piece of cloth that touched an object connected to the Saint) is enshrined to the right of his painting. St. Thomas More was beheaded, his body placed in an unmarked grave in the Tower of London for those accused of treason. Thus, it was not possible to obtain a first-class relic of the saint.
The Three Large Paintings on the Nave Wall: These paintings remind us of two important moments in the life of St. Thomas More - with his daughter Margaret after his trial which sentenced him to death, and with his daughter Margaret in the Tower cell where the saint was imprisoned before his beheading. The third painting is of St. John Fisher, the Cardinal Bishop of Rochester, condemned to the same fate as St. Thomas More due to his fidelity to the Pope and refusal to acknowledge Henry VIII as head of the Church of England. St. Thomas More and St. John Fisher were contemporaries, both Reformation Martyrs, who share a common feast day: June 22nd.
Sedes Sapientaie Statue: Hand carved in Italy, this statue of Our Lady is called “Seat of Wisdom”, appropriately titled as her lap provides a “seat” for Jesus. As we strive to teach wisdom, this is a popular and fitting image of Our Lady in Catholic institutions throughout the world.
The Crucifix: The 6’ corpus and 10’ cross was crafted in Italy.
Portrait of St. Thomas More: This portrait is hung in the hall as you enter the Chapel from the school. The portrait was gifted to St. Thomas More by Rev. James Clark of London, England. Please visit the portrait location to learn more about this special gift.
The St. Thomas More Chapel Society: As you enter the Chapel, you see the St. Thomas More Chapel Society wall. This wall acknowledges donors who joined the Chapel Society. We are grateful to these and all donors who supported the Chapel at St. Thomas More.