St. Joseph Chapel Mosaic

Art & Architecture

The chapel is Romanesque in style and cruciform in design. It is 200 feet long and 90 feet wide at its greatest breadth. The dome rises an amazing 70 feet above the sanctuary. Construction began in 1913 and was completed in three years and seven months. The chapel seats 500.

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Altars and Statues
  • AltarThere are three altars in the main body of the chapel, designed by the E. Hackner Company of La Crosse, Wisconsin, a noted designer, manufacturer, and importer of artistic ecclesiastical furnishings
  • Each altar is constructed of pure Italian Carrara marble and is carved and inlaid with multi-colored stones
  • A  marble lion stands on each side of the tabernacle
  • Chapel StatuesIn the niches of the main altar are statues of St. Joseph, patron of the chapel (center) and Saints Francis and Clare, patrons of the School Sisters of St. Francis (left and right)
  • The left side altar is dedicated to the Sacred Heart
  • The right side altar is dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary
  • After the Second Vatican Council, the chapel’s altar rail was removed and used to form the base of the new altar
  • A statue of St. Philomena stands on the left side of the main altar; on the right is St. Jude
  • A statue of the Infant of Prague stands at the top of the small stairway on the far right of the chapel


  • Chapel MosaicsThe mosaics in the chapel were created in Innsbruck, Austria
  • The three mosaics above the altar depict Christ giving the keys of the kingdom to St. Peter; symbols of our Franciscan community; and symbols of the Eucharist
  • The large mosaic to the left of the altar depicts the Fourteen Helpers—saints often called upon by those in need
  • The mosaic to the right depicts Mary Help of Christians
  • The mosaic above the Sacred Heart altar portrays the parable of the wise and foolish virgins
  • The mosaic above the Blessed Virgin Mary altar shows the investing of St. Clare by St. Francis
  • A mosaic of the Last Supper is displayed below the main altar
  • Chapel WindowsThe chapel contains 115 stained-glass windows which were made in Innsbruck, Austria, especially for this chapel
  • The chapel windows comprise the largest collection of Austrian stained glass in the United States
  • The windows on the south wall of the main floor of chapel depict scenes from the life of Mary; the windows on the north wall show scenes from the life of Jesus
  • The windows on the upper level of the chapel depict 18 female and male saints
  • The smaller windows in the balcony depict Eucharistic and other Christian symbols
  • ReliquariesThe chapel contains seven reliquaries
  • On the left side, under the Sacred Heart altar, is the complete skeleton of St. Leoninus, a third-century martyr
  • To the side of the Sacred Heart altar, atop the stairway, is an authenticated piece of the True Cross
  • Off the north side of the balcony is a relic chapel that contains more than 1,600 relics of more than 500 saints
Stations of the Cross
  • Stations of the CrossThe Stations of the Cross were hand carved from hard maple in St. Ulrich, Switzerland
  • They are a one-of-a-kind set, as the artist died soon after they were made
Adoration Chapel
  • Adoration ChapelThe Adoration Chapel is located behind the sanctuary of the main chapel
  • The chapel’s balcony is supported by columns of Colorado marble
  • The windows on the main floor show scenes from the lives of saints especially devoted to the Holy Eucharist
  • The balcony windows depict symbols of the Eucharist
  • Around the altar are two sets of nine angels
  • The paintings in the sacristy represent the seven sacramentsSacristry Painting - Sacrament of the Sick
  • All were painted by School Sister artists within five years of the chapel’s consecration
  • The paintings incorporate portraits of the sisters and other people who were influential in the development of the community
Chapel Choir Organ
  • Chapel Choir OrganThe original chapel organ was a four-manual Schaefer
  • In 1981, a three-manual, 35-rank Casavant organ was installed to replace the Schaefer organ
  • It has more than 1,700 pipes
  • The original organ case of fumed oak was designed and carved by E. Hackner Company of La Crosse, Wisconsin
  • Chapel MarbleThere are 15 kinds of marble in the chapel
  • It comes from Africa, Europe and North America
  • Chapel PewsThe pews are hand carved from fumed oak
  • In 2008, all the pews in the chapel were removed for refinishing by Cynthia J. Olszewski of Pioneer Refinishing in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. While the pews were out, the chapel floors were also refinished in a lighter color.