A Look Around: Bishop Mary Chapel

Bishop Marty Memorial Chapel, in stone, glass and wood, represents the charism and values of Sacred Heart Monastery’s Benedictine Sisters. Our foundress, Mother Gertrude Leupi (1848–1904), and her companions from the new Benedictine convent of Maria Rickenbach in Switzerland, established our Yankton community in Maryville, MO on November 17, 1880. From there, some of the pioneer Sisters ministered at Fort Yates, ND on Standing Rock Reservation. Later the Sisters moved the motherhouse to Zell, SD and in 1889 to Yankton. From 1897 to 1908 the motherhouse re-located to Vermillion, SD so the Yankton convent building could serve as the first Sacred Heart Hospital until funds would be available for building a new hospital structure. Every year the Sisters celebrate the consecration of Bishop Marty Memorial Chapel. Select here for more information.


The motto of the Rule of St. Benedict, which we Sisters strive to keep, is PRAYER and WORK. From the beginning of the community, the Sisters spent long hours in the Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. The liturgical prayer of the church, the Liturgy of the Hours, and the Eucharistic celebration became ever more important in their prayer life. When the community increased in numbers, the need for more worship space became imperative. Mother Xavier Fischlin (1850–1925) included an adequate chapel in the 1908 addition to the convent building. With the help of our chaplain Father Ignatius Forester, OSB (1875–1943) and the contributions of many benefactors, she led the way in the construction of the first Bishop Marty Memorial Chapel, dedicated in 1919.


Thirty-one years later Mother Jerome Schmitt (1899–1983) realized her and our dream of building a house of prayer that reflects the lives and hopes of all our sisters. At the same time the chapel memorializes Bishop Martin Marty, the first bishop of the Dakotas and formerly the Abbot of St. Meinrad’s Abbey in Indiana. The modified gothic structure, consecrated in 1950, stands etched in stone as a magnificent expression of our dedication to prayer.

Architect: Edward J. Schulte- Cincinnati, OH

Stained Glass Windows: Erhard Soettner, T.C. Esser Co.- Milwaukee, WI

Contractor: A. Klinger — Sioux City, IA

Materials- Exterior:

  • Lannon Stone (Wisconsin)
  • Bedford Stone (Indiana)


  • Sandstone (St. Meinrad, IN)
  • Wood: White Oak
  • Windows: Stained Glass

Footage, height, & misc:

  • Square Footages: Upper Chapel: 10,640 sq. feet — Peace Chapel: 9,266 sq. feet
  • Height of Chapel: (from ground to tip of cross) 187 1/2 feet
  • Height of Bronze Cross: 12 1/2 feet
  • Seating capacity — 600
  • Completed and consecrated in 1950
  • Cost of construction: approximately $1.1 million dollars

The anniversary of the dedication of the chapel is celebrated annually on July 27th

Chapel East Entrance

♦ At the back of the Upper Chapel a plaque on the east wall commemorates the loving memory of the deceased Sisters of the Benedictine Convent of the Sacred Heart.

♦The Bishop Marty room contains his throne and crucifix, materials in the glass case, a stained glass window illustrating various places of his missionary work and his coat of arms. An inscription on the east wall gives the date of his death.

♦ Benedictine Saints depicted over the portal of the front door (left to right): Gertrude the Great, Lioba, Scholastica, Benedict, Gregory, Anselm and Bede.

Within the Sanctuary

♦ Crucifix: suspended inside the baldachino, carved of white oak with a symbol of an evangelist at each end of the crossbeams.

♦ Curtains of Damask: Colors are changed to fit each liturgical season.

♦ Carved Screens: made of white oak flanking the sanctuary on either side including symbols of the twelve apostles.

North Windows

1. Our Lord and St. Benedict as Good Shepherds; the Holy Rule, with monks and nuns.

2. Jesus is victorious over Satan’s temptations; St. Benedict also resists temptation.

3. Jesus raises from death the son of the Widow of Nain; Benedict raises the son of a peasant from death.

4. Christ cures the servant of a Roman Centurion; Benedict is confronted by Totila, King of the Goths.

5. Christ sends the apostles on mission; the Benedictine Pope Gregory I sees the English enslaved youth and sends St. Augustine to England to convert the people.

6. Ora et Labora, The Holy Family; St. Benedict’ s prayer sends Maurus to save Placidus, as Maurus listens in obedience. Learn more in this article about St. Maurus and Placidus.

7. Peter drawn from the water by Jesus; Placidus drawn from the water by Maurus.

8. Parable of the wise and foolish virgins; St. Gertrude, the wise Benedictine mystic and patroness of our Federation.

9. Jesus visits Mary and Martha; St. Benedict visits his sister, St. Scholastica.

10. The death of Jesus; the death of Benedict.

Our Lady’s Chapel

The statue is a replica of Our Lady’s Chapel in Einsiedeln, Switzerland. The window to the left tells the story of this statue and of St. Meinrad. To learn more read this blog article Lady Einsiedeln Swiss Madonna.

The window on the east wall near the organ commemorates three important events in the life of Mary: (top to bottom) the Annunciation, the Visitation and the Nativity. At the bottom, a patriotic emblem covering her monogram proclaims Mary as the Patroness of the United States.

South Windows

These windows portray the Liturgy of the Hours, called the Work of God in the Rule of St. Benedict.

The windows portray the seven day hours and one night hour traditional to monastic communities. They are displayed in this order: Matins, Lauds, Prime, Terce, Sext, None, Vespers, and Compline. When viewing the windows in person, Matins is the window on the bottom with Prime above; Lauds is the window on the bottom and Terce at the top; Sext is the window on the bottom and Vespers is at the top; None is the window on the bottom and Compline is the window at the top. Today, because of their work schedules, the sisters pray Morning Prayer (Lauds), Noon Prayer (Sext), Evening Prayer (Vespers), and Compline, in addition to celebrating Eucharist together daily.

Benedictine Sisters’ Window (high east wall)

A gift of Mt. Marty alumnae, this masterpiece tells the story of our Sisters as we have lived and ministered here on the Mount and elsewhere on mission. The Benedictine motto is shown in the two symbols above the 20 panels (from left to right) PRAYER, a candle; WORK, a shovel. The 20 panels are divided into 5 tiers (beginning from the top, left to right): Each slider below on right is displayed per tier.

1st Tier: ♦ Liturgical (music/adoration/conference/night vigil)

2nd Tier: ♦ Contemplative (meditation/holy reading/crafts/pilgrims)

3rd Tier: ♦ Cultural (new members/scriptorium/embroidery/painting)

4th Tier: ♦ Ministry (child care/recreation/teaching/nursing)

5th Tier: ♦ Daily Manual Labor (farming/cooking/gardening/building) (under large picture on bottom)



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