"What is under the Big Blue Dome?" Many people who have driven by I-37 in Corpus Christi, Texas, have asked this question. It is a Perpetual Adoration Chapel to adore Jesus Christ in the Most Holy Eucharist, and to help people on retreat encounter the living God at Mass and Confession. It is not a parish church, and therefore we host neither weddings, nor quincinieras, do not have baptisms, confirmations or first communions.
The Chapel is designed with Spanish Colonial architecture, honoring the history of Texas and reflecting the missionary character of the Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity, (SOLT) the religious community that sponsors Our Lady of Corpus Christi. A landmark of Corpus Christi, the 75 foot blue dome that crowns the Chapel is adorned with gold stars representing Our Lady of Guadalupe, the Star of the New Evangelization.
At the crossing of the Chapel, behind the altar, stands the retablo. This retablo houses the tabernacle, within which the Eucharist is reposed. Directly above the tabernacle is the crucifixion scene, with Mary and John standing at the foot of the cross of Christ. The statues on the left of the crucifixion scene are St. Thérèse of Lisieux (top) and St. Maxmilian Kolbe, and on the right side stand St. Francis Xavier (top) and St. Frances Xavier Cabrini, the first American saint. All four were chosen as patrons for their missionary zeal. At the top of the retablo is a large monstrance with the Eucharist exposed for adoration and worship.
The Chapel is adorned with sacred art to lift the mind and soul to God. Near the retablo are four more statues: Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity, St. Joseph with the child Jesus, St. John Vianney, and St. Pio of Pietrelcina. Stations of the Cross hang through the main body of the Chapel. There are 24 stained glass windows throughout the Chapel. These marvelous and colourful pieces of art proclaim Scripture, Sacred Tradition, and the missionary activity of Holy Mother Church through the ages, and specifically in the work of the Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity.
The lighting of a candle for the intention of a loved one or resolution of a difficulty is an ancient Catholic tradition. It is a beautiful and meaningful way to offer up your petition in prayer, asking Our Lady of Guadalupe to intercede for your intentions. The candle room was recently opened to serve the needs of pilgrims and adorers.
The Chapel Plaza
At the center of the plaza stands the fountain, upon which St. Joseph stands holding the Child Jesus and a lily of purity. He faces the chapel doors, which are decorated with four scenes from the Gospels and Tradition in bronze relief. On either side of the doors are statues of St. Thérèse of Lisieux and St. Maxmilian Kolbe, and above the door is the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Two smaller statues, above the arches, honor St. Peter and St. Paul, principle pillars of the Church.
"I wanted to build a world-class adoration chapel for Our Lady of Corpus Christi worthy of Jesus, Our Eucharistic King," said Fr James Kelleher, SOLT, the first director of Our Lady of Corpus Christi. In 1999, he met a man who, in honor of his late father and who wanted to remain anonymous, would fund the entire construction.
The exterior was inspired by local architect, Michael Imber, to be modeled after South Texas style buildings. When one looks at the front, the upward curls are reminiscent of the Alamo, and other ancient Catholic mission churches in the area. His design for the Chapel was so striking that it was featured in the book Reconquering Sacred Space: New Catholic Architecture for the New Millennium, which grew out of the conference in Rome at which the chapel design was presented.
The interior, at least the elevated four foot monstrance, which is located at least 30 feet above the sanctuary, was inspired by Our Lady of the Angels monastery built by Mother Angelica. The interior of the chapel was transformed into sacred space by the artwork signed and executed by Talleres de Arte Granda, of Spain, whose liturgical artwork is exquisite both in beauty and workmanship.
The 24 stained glass windows were designed by Botti Studio of Evanston, Illinois. These marvelous and colorful pieces of art proclaim Scripture, Sacred Tradition, and the missionary activity of Holy Mother Church through the ages and specifically in the work of the Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity.
The chapel was consecrated by Bishop Edmund Carmody, on February 1st, 2003, at the Vigil Mass of the Feast of the Presentation.