The Ruining of Stella Maris
On the shores of beautiful Lake Sagatagan, on the land owned by St. John's University in Collegeville, stands a quaint little chapel originally built around 1915 and lovingly restored around 1945. It is very small, only around 500 square feet and is made of field stone and mortar. Inside is a floor made of a locally quarried dark granite. In the center of the floor is a white, six-pointed star set in a circle of reddish stone. It is not used regularly, not officially anyway, but there is a path that circles around the lake that leads to this pretty little house of God and it has been open to the public for as long as I can remember.
When you looked at that chapel, with its uneven fieldstone walls, you could see the work and sweat that went into building it. The stones came from the surrounding fields, gathered by local farmers as they plowed in the spring, and were somehow transported across the lake where they were used by local laborers and monks to build a small testament to their faith. The whole structure was built as a labor of love using all local materials, from the ornate floor to the cross on the bell tower.
All that changed this summer when St. John's decided to renovate
again. The result is an eyesore. They completely covered the field
stone with burnt orange stucco and covered the floor with Italian
marble tile. They built a wall where the main door was and replaced it
with a large, circular window and they added iron frames to all the
windows where I assume stained glass is going to go. Italian marble and stained glass windows suggest one thing to me: a future lock on the door.
What was once a unique landmark now resembles a strip mall. The character and personality of the place has been covered up by an ugly, bland façade. What a shame!
The next time I go to those woods, I won't be walking to the Stella Maris chapel. There's no point anymore.
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