" I have loved, O Lord, the beauty of Thy House and the place where Thy glory dwelleth:"
For twenty years after the Foundation of the Boscombe Convent, the Religious had made use of the temporary iron chapel presented by His Lordship, Dr. Vertue, Bishop of Portsmouth. During these years, plans and preparations had been made for the great day when it would be possible to erect a permanent structure.
It was due largely to the untiring efforts of Mother de Namuroy, now Assistant General of the Society, that the present chapel was built and consecrated on the 25th July, 1907, by the successor of Dr. Vertue, the Rev. John Baptist Cahill, D.D. The style is Gothic, and the building is carried out in Purbeck and Chilmark stone, uniform with the Convent building.
The exceptionally lofty interior flanked on either side by five tall and slender stained-glass windows, measures 45 feet in height, and 80 feet in length, from the massive oak entrance doors to the Carrara marble altar rails, which were given by the McLoughlin family.
The Sanctuary which is paved with marble and surrounded by stained-glass windows depicting scenes from Our Lord's life, is a fitting setting for the handsome pure-white marble altar, the gift of the late Mr. and Mrs. T. P. Kelly. Visitors are particularly impressed by this altar, of which the details are so exouisitely carried out.
The representation of the Last Supper. beneath the Tabernacle is particularly fine. The Sanctuarv lamp, which is of solid silver and is of Celtic design, was presented by Mr. L. Mulligan.
Above the altar is an especially impressive stained-glass window. It attracts one's attention immediately, and rightly so, for it puts before us Calvary, the Sacrifice daily renewed upon the altar. The Religious of the Cross have ever before them Jesus the Crucified, their Divine model. O Crux Ave ! alone found worthy to receive so precious a burden - Our hope is all in Thee!
The very devotional Stations of the Cross, presented by a Past Pupil, Miss Henrietta Andrews, have been much admired. At the back of the Chapel is the beautiful shrine of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour, which was given by Pauline, Baroness Von Hugel. Here we may pray with confidence to Our Mother, whose help has never failed. Need we say that the generous benefactors to the Chapel have always a special remembrance in the prayers of the Community.
Projecting into the Nave, above the entrance door, and supported by two plain oak pillars is the choir loft, over which is a delicately toned rose window. The organ, which was purchased from the Jesuit Fathers of Corpus Christi Church, Boscombe, in 1933, was rebuilt by Messrs. A. Smith and R. Foskett, of Hampstead. When the organ had been installed, improvements to the Sanctuary claimed the attention of the community.
It had long been felt that the plastered walls did not set off the altar to its fullest advantage. The need for a marble background was evident, and a decision was taken to begin this work in commemoration of the Jubilee. A prelude took the form of two white marble Angels presented by the Boulton family.
The generosity of past and present pupils and of many friends, has made it possible to complete the marbling of the lower part of the Sanctuary. It looks so beautiful that we should like to see the marble reach to the very top!
How intimate a part has this Chapel played in the lives of all. In speaking of it one feels as though on sacred ground. Tiny children, the adolescent, the young religious, those who have grown old in the service of the Lord - can trace the greatest and happiest days of their lives to that beloved spot. Associated with it are events which time can never dim, and which are remembered more dearly as years pass by.
How many in the lovely innocence of childhood have approached this altar to receive Our Lord for the first time. Others too, have been privileged to be anointed Soldiers of Christ within these same walls. For some the recollection will be in the mists of the past, for others still clear and vivid - but for all, equally sweet.
" Ecce quam bonum et quam jucundum " As often as these words have echoed here, so often have closer ties been woven between the Religious and the Chapel they so love. Perhaps the memory is of the happy day, when they stood before its altar, brides of Christ - consecrating their young lives to the Divine Spouse.
Maybe it is of that still more solemn occasion of Religious Profession, when they bound themselves to Him by the pronouncement of their vows. With the Chapel too, are associated our last recollections of those now gone to their reward, " Pie Jesu Domine, dona eis requiem."
Yet, it is not the great events which have occurred there, which endears the Chapel to us, it is much more the fact that on all days at every moment the Master is there and calleth for each one of us. He is there, waiting so patiently for us to come and share our joys with Him. He is waiting still in times of sorrow; indeed His presence is then most truly felt.
There, in the Tabernacle is He, Whose Heart is consumed with love and who alone can perfectly understand and console. Only He has seen deep into the hearts of all who have come to Him; here they have been their real selves, a self often hidden from others, but before Him revealed in all simplicity. The Chapel safeguards the greatest secret, the working of Jesus in the human soul.