The History of the Chapel

St. Elizabeth Chapel was built in loving memory of Elizabeth Drexel Smith, sister of St. Katharine Drexel, foundress of the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament.

chapel-from-loftThe Chapel is the centerpiece of life for the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament, a place where they share their most intimate moments with the Lord. Saint Katharine Drexel realized the need for this centerpiece and funded the cost of construction. She appointed Marquandt Burns, a prominent Philadelphia architect to design and construct this building. The Altar is the focal point of the Chapel with daily Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. The seats were designed to allow the Sisters to face each other during morning and evening prayer. The Sanctuary Lamp and Tabernacle Door were gifts from Louise Drexel Morrell, St. Katharine’s little sister.

outside-chapelThe Chapel is over a century old, having opened in 1892, but thanks to renovations it has maintained its original beauty. In 1988, with their centennial year approaching, the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament realized the need to modernize the chapel according to the Second Vatican Council. The renovations also secured the foundation, cleaned the interior and introduced a wave of art work, including pieces from Native American Artists.

banner-from-Vatican The banner that was hung at the Vatican for St. Katharine Drexel’s canonization in 2000 was then displayed on the back wall in St. Elizabeth Chapel. The altar of sacrifice at which Mass is celebrated was located in the large open space in the center.

St. Elizabeth Chapel still stands today as a symbol of love and sacrifice that St. Katharine and the Sisters made over the years. It was part of the motherhouse campus and was open to the public as part of the National Shrine of St. Katharine Drexel until its closing.


Praying-in-ChapelPrayer & Eucharistic Adoration:

St. Elizabeth Chapel is now closed to the public for prayer and Eucharistic Adoration effective January 1, 2018.