Note: This story is presented in 3 posts.
(The factual information in this post is quoted from “The New Book of Grace Church” which was produced by the parish when it celebrated its centennial in 1988.)
We continue our tour of Grace Episcopal Church in Elmira, NY with a visit to the Lady Chapel which is to the left of the chancel when we face the altar. It is at the west end of the south aisle and is entered through a lovely craved screen. Depicted above the entrance is a wood statue of St. Anne and Mary.
Before entering the chapel, just to the right of the entrance, you will notice a prayer shrine with a beautiful wood statue of the Madonna and Child carved by Hans Mayr of Oberammergau.
I took the picture below of the Madonna and Child in available natural light and so the wood reflected some interesting colors from the windows. The hanging star in the chapel is actually gold or bronze in color, I think, but in this light and from this angle it reflected blue –probably from the stained glass window to the left (outside the picture).
Entering through the screen we notice the beautiful reredos and painting of the Annunciation above the altar. The painting is by Augustus Davies of Pasadena, California. The altar itself is from the parish’s old church on Main Street in Elmira. The reredos was a memorial donation to the church by the Reverend and Mrs. Rudd. The cross and six lights on the altar were donated by the widow of one Father Wright. A statue of St. Agnes is part of the lectern.
The Lady Chapel is regularly used for Wednesday morning Mass and for other special services.
If we turn around and look at the carved wood, open screen we entered through, and look up, we can see a little icon of Mary and Joseph. Through the archway, at the other end of the south aisle, is one of the beautiful figurative windows that grace the ground floor walls. We will look at some of those in the third post of this story.
Exiting the Lady Chapel through that screen and turning left we will pass through yet another beautifully carved wood, open screen and enter the nave of the church.
Crossing in front of the chancel to the opposite side we come to Saint Michael’s Chapel. I did not get a picture of it, but above the door to the chapel there is another beautiful statue, this time of Saint Michael the Archangel.
Hanging over the altar in the Chapel, in a triptych, is a tondo painting, Mater Dei. This work, like the Annunciation in the Lady Chapel was painted by Augustus Davies. It was purchased by the parish in 1910.
This chapel has always been a mortuary chapel. The deceased of boarding houses –or those from out-of-town who died while visiting Elmira– rested in peace here until a funeral could be arranged. It is still used for ‘calling hours’. St. Michael’s Chapel is used for daily Masses and well as confessions.
This series will continue and conclude with Part III.