Loyola Magazine

A look back at the creation of Loyola’s chapel

Alumni Memorial Chapel dedicated to alumni who served in WWII
Black and white photo of two workers pushing wheelbarrows and surveying the site of a Alumni Memorial Chapel during its construction
Photo credit: Construction photo dated circa 1950. Gift of John McGrain. Courtesy Loyola/Notre Dame Library.

When then-president of Loyola, the Rev. Edward Bunn, S.J., announced plans to build a new chapel in February 1945, many Loyola students were in the trenches fighting in World War II. Practically, Loyola needed a larger chapel for its growing student body—and, just as important, a way to heal from the war. Ultimately, 1,200 Loyola students and alumni served in combat, including 30 who made the ultimate sacrifice.

The chapel came to life after five years of fundraising and two years of construction.

The project was overseen by three Loyola presidents, with the Rev. Francis Talbot, S.J., and the Rev. Thomas Murray, S.J., serving after Fr. Bunn.

As time passed and leadership changed, the sentiment behind building the new chapel shifted. The chapel was completed in 1951 and dedicated in 1952—the 100th anniversary of the University’s founding. The church was called Alumni Memorial Chapel, but it was dedicated as a Marian shrine to the Blessed Mother, specifically Our Lady of Evergreen.

Architects Gaudreau and Gaudreau designed the chapel to resemble a Gothic cathedral and the structure was built by noted contractor John McShain from Philadelphia.

The stained-glass windows were designed and created by D’Ascenzo Studios, which also produced windows for the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., as well as residences, churches, and businesses throughout the country.

“Up until the present time, including the Jefferson Memorial, the Loyola chapel is the most beautiful building we have ever built,” McShain said at its completion.

View and learn more about the stained-glass windows in Alumni Memorial Chapel.

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