Historic Milwaukee: Marquette's Joan of Arc Chapel

MILWAUKEE--At the heart of Marquette University's campus is a 15th-century place of prayer. Originally from France, the Joan of Arc Chapel was moved, brick-by-brick to the United States, and has been a fixture at Marquette for over 50 years.

The chapel was built as an extension of a family home, typically used for family masses, according to Julie Baumann, who has been a docent at the chapel for six years. 

"We have the original bell here. That's the sound you would have heard 600 years ago to let everyone know it was time to come for services," said Bauman. 

While many of the things within the chapel are original to it, there are quite a few antiques inside that have their own stories. 

"The oldest piece in the chapel is a vessel, we use it today as our holy water font. It's marble and two-three inches thick. It is 11th-century Roman. It's our oldest piece, over 1,000 years old," said Baumann. 

One of its most famous artifacts lies behind the altar. 

"The famous stone of the Joan of Arc. This is a stone that originally had a statue of Mary on it, and prior to going into battle, Joan of Arc kissed the stone," said Baumann. "The stone was donated along with the church, and the story is [that] the stone became quite cold after she kissed it." 

Though they've had all kinds of students try to figure out what causes the temperature difference, it has yet to be explained, according to Baumann. 

Rev. Fred Zagone, Assistant to the Vice President of University Advancement, frequently performs mass at the chapel. He took a moment after the weekday noon service to talk to us about its history. 

"[It's] The oldest structure in the Western Hemisphere that is still being used for its original purpose," said Zagone.   

The services are open to the public, and sophomore Anna Kozlowski sees the chapel as a kind of home. 

"I just feel so comfortable and relaxed, and like myself and purely myself here," said Kozlowski. 

Kozlowski isn't alone, with the Tuesday night mass sometimes drawing hundreds of people, there is certainly something very special about the Joan of Arc Chapel. 

"There was a student there, and 'oh father,' she'd say. 'When I'm not doing well, when I need help, I go see my friend Joan,'" said Zagone. 

During the last week of April, the public can come and enjoy a performance inspired by Joan of Arc at the chapel. Details can be found here

 

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