Mary Seat of Wisdom Chapel

  • Worship Times

    The Mary, Seat of Wisdom Chapel has scheduled worship times every Sunday at 11 a.m. and 9 p.m.  Reconciliation is available a half-hour before and after mass or by appointment.

    History of the Chapel

    The beginnings of a Christian church on this site go back to the year 1860 when the congregation of the First Presbyterian church dedicated a brick edifice with a towering steeple. This congregation had organized in 1815 in the humble surroundings of an old military barracks at Third and Sassafras streets.

    At the time of its building, this church was considered the largest building in Erie County, and its spire was visible to people for miles around. Tragically, this building was partially destroyed by fire some twenty years later and not fully restored until 1940. A second fire in 1944 completely destroyed the building. The only part of the original complex which remains today is the Seldon Chapel annex, dedicated in 1892.

    The present church was built in 1950. Its congregation merged with the Presbyterian Church of the Covenant in January of 1981 and is now the First Presbyterian Church of the Covenant on West Sixth Street. Gannon University purchased the property and its buildings that year with a view to continuing the church as the University Chapel and other buildings of the complex for Student Services.  The chapel was dedicated on October 8, 1989.

    A special feature of the reserved Eucharist Chapel is a new window that incorporates four panels from the entrance lobby of the original church. Other windows and pews were incorporated into an interfaith chapel at a state correctional facility in Mercer, PA.

    Paintings of the Chapel

    Found above the altar in the Eucharistic Chapel, the Seat of Wisdom painting was done by world-renowned Catholic artist, writer and liturgical consultant, Ade Bethune.

    Beginning in the Twelfth Century, in prayer and in litanies in honor of Mary, a number of titles are given her in praise of her close relationship with Eternal Wisdom: Mother of Wisdom, Fountain of Wisdom, House of Wisdom, Seat of Wisdom, of which the last became the most common.

    Under this title the Blessed Virgin is honored in liturgical celebrations, in particular churches, in universities and religious institutes. The title "Seat of Wisdom" celebrates the maternal role of Mary, her royal dignity, and her incomparable wisdom and prudence in the things of God.

    Stained Glass Windows

    The use of stained glass has a long tradition in the Church. Besides its decorative use, it was also used as a teaching or catechetical device. Scenes from the Bible were depicted, and could then be used by preachers to help a poorly educated or even illiterate congregation to understand the Scriptures and its teachings. The windows could then be a source of reflection and prayer afterwards, much as someone today might read a Scripture passage as a source of prayer.

    A University community’s needs are very different. A highly literate community, capable of abstract thought and sustained reflection is in need of an art form that can move them in such a direction. Consequently an art form that is more abstract and symbolic seemed appropriate for the Gannon community. It is our hope that these windows will be a continuing source of inspiration and reflection, helping our community to raise our minds and hearts in prayer and praise.

    Designed by John Vahanian, an Erie native, and fabricated by Pittsburgh Stained Glass Studios, these windows are a significant artistic and religious statement of the Gannon University community. They were dedicated on October 1, 1993.