St. Francis Chapel
1992- 1993 Prudential Center, Boston
Saint Francis Chapel has occupied commercial space at the Prudential Center since its construction in 1960. The addition of a covered shopping concourse completed in 1994 created an enclosed promenade from the Sheraton Hotel to Copley Place. As part of this new construction, the chapel was relocated to a new site at the interior entry to the Hynes Auditorium. This move resulted in increased visibility and a new image. One first views the Chapel from a crowded pedestrian concourse. The large cross over the altar is visible from a distance. The narthex is entered through a granite structure designed to recall an opening into an ancient sacred space. A heavy wood timber pierces the springline, symbolic of the crossbar used in the crucifix. On entering, one’s immediate focus is a baptistery. Running water mutes the sounds of the outside. The nave is visible through a second glass wall. The rough granite veneer of the entrance arch is used as flooring in the narthex and carried into the nave as the wall finish at the candle niches. The ceilings rise to eighteen feet over the altar. A parabolic arched ceiling, reminiscent of a dome and other arches within the chapel, is over the sanctuary and main nave seating. A stone candle wall, a niche for the tabernacle, the altar, the cross, and a relief of St. Mary are the main images in the nave. In the nave one is sheltered from the activity outside, and finds a place of repose, either for quite reflection or to worship with others.