Online Edition – Vol. X, No. 2 & 3: April – May 2004
Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity chapel
Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity chapel is prominently located at the head of the main quadrangle at Thomas Aquinas College. This central location reflects the important role of faith in the pursuit of wisdom. Administration and classroom buildings, connected to the chapel by arcades, will complete the quadrangle.
This design for the Thomas Aquinas College chapel is inspired by the churches of Southern California as well as by the Catholic tradition. The three-story belltower and dome can be seen from within the valley, and in particular from Ojai Road. As visitors enter the campus by way of the stone gate, the chapel — with its curvilinear apse — will be one of the first buildings they see. Parking located next to the new administration building leads onto the campus through a limestone arch through an octagonal pavilion and into the quadrangle. The arcades flanking the chapel provide covered access from the academic buildings and assist in defining the quadrangle.
Entering the chapel one goes through a covered narthex, above which is placed the choir loft. The chapel has a nave, transept and large sanctuary in the shape of a cross holding up to four hundred people. The interior character is of the early Christian basilicas with Corinthian arcades. The ceiling is vaulted with arched windows and ribbed supports. The crossing has a dome with twelve circular windows in honor of the apostles and the pendentives have images of the four evangelists. Side aisles provide places for procession, confession and overflow seating. The main focus is on the marble tabernacle and the altar, which has a solomonic baldacchino surmounted by angels of the Lord’s passion who support an image of the crucifix. An ambo is placed to the left so that readers can be seen and heard. Shrines dedicated to Saint Peter, Saint Paul, Saint Thomas and the Blessed Virgin Mary are located within the transept.
– Duncan Stroik
Copyright ©2003 Duncan G. Stroik. All rights reserved. Used with permission.
Duncan Stroik is professor in the school of architecture at Notre Dame University, and editor of the semi-annual journal, Sacred Architecture.