II. The Chapel
Except at the entrance and at the sanctuary, where the end walls carry some elaborate decoration in relief, the Seminary Chapel interior is structurally simple. The walls rise smooth to the roof, where trusses bridge the single span. There are only the choir and sanctuary. The crosses and candle brackets on the wall attest the fact that the Chapel is consecrated. In the Altar is enshrined a relic of St. Vibiana, principal patroness of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles and titular patroness of the Cathedral.
At the top, the trusses provide a rich painted decoration. The ceiling unifies everything; it responds to, and is enhanced by the color streaming from the windows; it harmonizes with the Stations, the dado, and with the stone, gold and mosaics of the sanctuary.
ALTAR. The altar stands elevated on its stone predella well above the principal floor level. The altar itself, of Italian buffneato stone, is a simple massive table supported on colonnettes. A wall behind it forms a single retable which bears the crucifix and the larger candlesticks. Of white stone the reredos is embellished with relief and with mosaics of glass and marble. In the center, a huge pointed arch, springing from mosaic-encrusted columns, frames the niche formerly used for the exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, with a statue of St. John high above. On each side a large relief, one of the Last Supper, the other of Pentecost.
STATIONS OF THE CROSS. Their simplicity of design and composition, their exquisite coloring, soft pastel shades, serve a Catholic devotion without calling for undue notice, as do so many realistic paintings of the same scenes. Their artistic qualities are made subordinate to their religious purpose, without preventing the series from being a splendid contribution to the decorative treatment of the Chapel. Embedded in the walls, they are part of the structure, not merely an appendage. The designer of the Stations is Martin G. Coleman of New York. They were executed in the Vatican Mosaic Studios and blessed there by Pius XII.
STAINED GLASS WINDOWS. The commission for the windows was given to Joseph Tierney, founder and head of the Church Crafts Center, New York. The armatures have been constructed
to secure solidity with the minimum of obstruction to the lines of the design. The artist realized that the pointed arched openings, to receive the windows, would have to be orchestrated with the decorative elements confined therein. By use
of radiating spans, together with the gothic-arched shape of the medallions in the base, he recalls these contours. Noticeable is the freshness of rendition of the subjects. There are here no trade-worm formulae, nor photographic handling of draperies and accessories. Rather we find bold, flat decorative expression, combined with restful straight lines. Following is a description of each window successively viewed around the chapel beginning with the West elevation: