Aleteia logoAleteia logo
Aleteia
Wednesday 25 November |
Saint Catherine of Alexandria
home iconTravel
line break icon

The only 15th-century Catholic church still in use in America

SAINT JOAN OF ARC CHAPEL

Ed Bierman | CC

Zelda Caldwell - published on 08/25/17

Marquette’s Joan of Arc chapel contains a stone said to have been kissed by the saint herself.

Where is the oldest building in the Western hemisphere that is still used for its original purpose?

You might be surprised to learn that it’s in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and that it’s a 15th-century Catholic church where Mass is still celebrated.

The Joan of Arc Chapel has been a fixture of the Marquette University campus since it was moved to the Jesuit Catholic university, brick by brick, 50 years ago

In 1927, Gertrude Hill Gavin, the daughter of an American railroad magnate, purchased the chapel and had it shipped from the village of Chasse in France’s Rhone Valley, to her family’s estate (also a French chateau that she had purchased) in Long Island. Shortly after that, the France enacted a law banning such purchases to protect the country’s cultural heritage.

Gavin, who was a devotee of Joan of Arc, the patron saint of France and hero of the Hundred Years War, received permission from Pope Pius XI in 1933 to have Mass said in the building (the letter still hangs in the nave).

Along with the chapel, Gavin also purchased a 13th-century altar and the “Joan of Arc stone,” which St. Joan is said to have prayed upon after battle. Legend has it that the stone is always colder to the touch that the stones around it.

In 1962, after Gavin had sold the chateau and chapel, the new owners donated it to Marquette University. Workers spent nine months disassembling the chapel stone by stone, and labeling them before loading them onto trucks headed to Milwaukee.

SAINT JOAN OF ARC CHAPEL
Marquette University

The resassembled church opened its doors to the public in 1966 and continues to draw hundreds of the faithful each week. Services are open to the public and are popular among students.

Tags:
Church History
Support Aleteia!

If you’re reading this article, it’s thanks to the generosity of people like you, who have made Aleteia possible.

Here are some numbers:

  • 20 million users around the world read Aleteia.org every month
  • Aleteia is published every day in eight languages: English, French, Arabic, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, and Slovenian
  • Each month, readers view more than 50 million pages
  • Nearly 4 million people follow Aleteia on social media
  • Each month, we publish 2,450 articles and around 40 videos
  • We have 60 full time staff and approximately 400 collaborators (writers, translators, photographers, etc.)

As you can imagine, these numbers represent a lot of work. We need you.

Support Aleteia with as little as $1. It only takes a minute. Thank you!

Daily prayer
And today we celebrate...




Top 10
LUXOR FILM FESTIVAL
Zoe Romanowsky
20-year-old filmmaker wins award for powerful...
Luz Ivonne Ream
What’s the secret of this couple’s 64 years o...
Giuseppe Moscati
Larry Peterson
A volcano, a plague, a war: This doctor-saint...
PADRE PIO
Philip Kosloski
Padre Pio's favorite prayer of petition
CHRIST THE KING
Edifa
Why do we say that "Christ is King"?
CHRISTMAS AD
Cerith Gardiner
This heartwarming TV ad focuses on what reall...
FATHER RANIERO CANTALAMESSA
Kathleen N. Hattrup
Pope's preacher won't become a bishop though ...
See More
Newsletter
Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.