Wednesday, August 15, 2001

Delhi chapel marks 100 years

By Rebecca Billman
The Cincinnati Enquirer

[photo] Chapel of the Immaculate Conception has gone an extensive renovation.
(Glenn Hartong photos)
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        DELHI TOWNSHIP — Before it was dedicated 100 years ago today, the chapel at the Mount St. Joseph Motherhouse was dubbed “Byrne's folly” by some.

        The Rev. Thomas Byrne's plan to build a grand chapel — four stories high, with a capacity of 500 worshipers — was decadent, critics said. Turn-of-the-century Delhi was sparsely populated farm country, several miles outside the Cincinnati limits. And it was far from the end of the city rail line.

        Nevertheless, construction began in 1892. But work slowed because of the cost. It took hundreds of 10-cent donations from family, friends and acquaintances of the Sisters of Charity to fuel the project, according to Sister Judith Metz, archivist for the Catholic community.

        But today, the chapel — well- used and well-cared-for by the nuns — is the crown jewel of The Mount.

        The Chapel of the Immaculate Conception was dedicated Aug. 15, 1901. Today, the sisters will commemorate the chapel's 100th anniversary with a special liturgy and Mass beginning at 8 a.m.

[photo] “St. Joseph and Child”
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        The Romanesque structure is a trove of splendid art — much of it by local artists.

        The architect, Adolphus Druiding of Chicago, won first prize in a Paris contest for his design, which was inspired by the Basilica of St. Agnes in Rome. It features columns of marble at the entrance and arches supported by pink Georgian marble columns in the nave.

        The stained-glass windows were imported from Munich, with the exception of one — “Christ Blessing Little Children” — made by the Artistic Glass Co. of Cincinnati. The windows were cleaned and re-leaded last year. They were also back-lighted for the first time.

        The sanctuary mural, a depiction of Mary Immaculate, is the work of Wilhelm Lamprecht — teacher of the celebrated Cincinnati artist Frank Duveneck.

        Two marble statues, “St. Joseph and Child” and “Madonna With the Lilies,” were created by sculptor Clement Barnhorn, who shared studio space with Duveneck.


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