|Ecclesial permission to have the Stations of the Cross|
in the original Mount Chapel in 1932
A framed document in Latin is dated 1932, which would be within a year or two of when the Mount community finally moved up the hill to the new Brentwood campus (the future Chalon) from temporary quarters at St. Mary's Academy in Inglewood.
Brady Hall was the one and only structure until 1939 when Mary Chapel was built. It was a beautiful, multipurpose building into which were crammed the CSJs' convent, student dorms, dining facilities, classrooms, science labs, library, infirmary and of course a chapel. Mass was mandatory and celebrated daily in two converted dorm rooms with the dividing wall removed.
Every Catholic church is entitled to a Stations of the Cross, or Way of the Cross, an ancient devotion that relives Jesus' passion and death in 14 "stations," usually around the walls of the nave. The Latin is Via Crucis, and this document kept in the Sacristy is formal, written permission to stage them in the chapel at the new Mount campus.
These days, the Stations in Mary Chapel are barely noticeable, owing to their small size and decades of grime. In the tiny Brady Hall chapel, there was room for only 14 small pictures, but when the new Mary Chapel was consecrated in 1940, the old Stations were incorporated into the new architecture. The originals were photographed and enlarged, and then hand tinted by one of the Art Department faculty, Sister Ignatia Cordis, CSJ. The covering varnish has darkened and muted the original colors, but when you looks at them now, you are seeing part of the Mount's first chapel in 1932. (What became of the originals is unknown.)
Out of curiosity, we looked into why the Catholic Church had to give formal permission for the Stations. If a devoted Catholic reverently "walks" the Stations using the appropriate prayers, he or she is entitled to have sins wiped away, called an indulgence. From medieval times, pilgrims following Jesus' final footsteps in Jerusalem -- the real Stations of the Cross -- were granted a variety of indulgences, good for clearing one or two or a lifetime of sins. The popularity of the pilgrimage led it eventually to be extended to local parishes. A penitent praying the Via Crucis in her home church is essentially making a little pilgrimage and can discharge her sins without having to go all the way to the Holy Land. This approach was popularized in the 1600s by the Franciscans, who since 1217 have been the custodians of the original Way of the Cross through the ancient streets of Jerusalem.
It is the opportunity to receive an indulgence that explains why any installation of the Stations of the Cross has to be blessed by the local prelate; they have to be done in the proper form according to Church norms. (We have an artist's concept of the Stations in the J. Thomas McCarthy Library on the Doheny Campus, but they're not "licensed," so no indulgences.)
The Mount's Documenta Pro Erectione S. Viae Crucis -- "evidence for the building of the holy Way of the Cross" -- is signed in Latin by Sister Margaret Brady, CSJ (Soror Margarita Maria), the Mount's founding president; Father Ermin Vitry, OSB, a Benedictine monk who was Mount chaplain and a music professor; and Most Rev. John (Joannes) J. Cantwell, archbishop of the Diocese of Los Angeles (Angelorum) and San Diego (Sti. Didaci).
The Franciscans' 800-year-old custodianship of the Holy Land explains why it is also signed by two Franciscans. Head (guardian) of the Franciscan province at Mission Santa Barbara, Father Dominic (Dominicus) Gallardo, OFM, authorized as his local delegate Father John (Joannes) Otterstedt, OFM, to make sure everything was on the up and up.
Since the old Stations were incorporated into the new chapel, there was no need of a new Documentum in 1939. Those Stations and their Documentum are all that remains of the original chapel except a couple of fuzzy photographs.
|The first Mount Chapel right before its final liturgy in mid-December 1939. |
After that, Mass was celebrated in Mary Chapel. The room is opposite
the elevators on the second floor of Brady Hall, now a lounge.