Pope Francis declared an Extraordinary Year of Mercy, beginning Dec. 8, 2015, and ending Nov. 20, 2016. In addition to designating shrines within the St. Cloud Diocese as places of pilgrimage, Bishop Donald Kettler has encouraged parishioners to pray at the religious communities in the diocese during this Jubilee Year of Mercy. Those who visit are able to obtain jubilee year graces.The Visitor introduced a pilgrimage passport to encourage people to participate in this jubilee. The passport may be found at http://stcloudvisitor.org/year-of-mercy. Click on “Pilgrimage Passport.” This is the first of the religious communities to be featured.
Where is the chapel located?
The chapel is located at St. Francis Convent, 116 8th Ave. SE, in Little Falls. The Holy Door, where pilgrims enter with the intention of leaving old things behind, leads into the chapel’s gathering space.
What are the important features of the chapel?
Sacred Heart Chapel was completed in 1943, with Romanesque arches in the nave that focus attention on the sanctuary, while the half-pillars which support them suggest strength and stability. The chapel is rich with stained glass windows, statuary and paintings.
The San Damiano Cross, located behind the main altar in Sacred Heart Chapel, is painted in the style of an icon, a replica of one St. Francis of Assisi prayed before when discerning his own vocation.
The 14 semicircular windows on each side of the chapel coincide with the stanzas of St. Francis’ “Canticle of the Creatures.” Alternating with the windows are the Stations of the Cross, sculpted from white oak.
The rose window (west wall) is a mosaic with symbols of Jesus, justice, knowledge, power and glory, the evangelists and the apostles. Clerestory windows represent the events in Jesus’ life.
Windows across the north wall represent Jesus surrounded by archangels, prophets, apostles and martyrs. In the four corners are the four evangelists, and the east wall depicts the Virgin Mary along with Isaiah who prophesied the virgin birth and Gideon whose fleece symbolizes purity.
Spanning the balcony are the Stations of the Cross, painted in oil by Franciscan Sister Alice Doll.
On the chapel’s outer brick wall (south) is a white stone relief of St. Francis of Assisi with a wolf and birds.
What to do when you visit:
The Franciscans have compiled a booklet, “A Pilgrim’s Companion,” to be shared with people visiting Sacred Heart Chapel during the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy. This booklet invites visitors to contemplate the Year of Mercy logo and includes excerpts from Pope Francis’ announcement, a welcome to pilgrims, suggestions for meditation and prayers, and a map of the significant statues and paintings within the chapel.
- Pilgrims may visit Sacred Heart Chapel anytimefrom 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Sunday, or by appointment by calling 320-632-0668.
- Visitors may join the Franciscan Sisters in SacredHeart Chapel: Monday through Friday at 11 a.m. (Mass); Saturday at 11 a.m. (Communion service); Sunday at 8:30 a.m. (Mass); and at evening prayer at 4:15 p.m. daily.
For general information, call the Franciscan sisters at 320-632-2981 or visit www.fslf.org.