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Mary, Seat of Wisdom Chapel

  • Worship Times

    The Mary, Seat of Wisdom Chapel has scheduled Mass times every Sunday at 10 a.m. and 8 p.m. during the academic year when classes are in session. The Sacrament of Confession is available after every Mass. You are also welcome to make an appointment with the Chaplain.

    Mary and Joseph

    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.

    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 that remains today is the Seldon Chapel annex, which was 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 vision of continuing the church as the University Chapel and other buildings of the complex for Student Services. The chapel was dedicated on Oct. 8, 1989.

    A special feature of Kraus Hall is a 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.

    The chapel closed again in May 2019 when a gas leak was discovered below the chapel. Thanks to a lead gift by Monsignor Robert L. Brugger '62, a $2 million campaign was launched to help fund its renovation.

    Over the next several months, a team was formed across the University and community to plan and reconstruct the Chapel, enhancing the structure's appearance and sanctuary appointments to provide a spiritual home for our Gannon family and friends in the journey of faith.

    A Space for Worship

    Paintings of the Chapel

    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 her Son Jesus Christ who is honored as Eternal Wisdom: Mother of Wisdom, Fountain of Wisdom, House of Wisdom, and Seat of Wisdom, of which the last became the most common.

    Under this title the Blessed Virgin is honored in liturgical celebrations, particular churches, and 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

    Chapel Pews

    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 people 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.

    Over time, much of Christian art became more abstract and symbolic, evoking more than it might describe or define. This is reflected in the Gannon Chapel windows.  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 reflecting the mysteries of God revealed in the Scriptures.

    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 Oct. 1, 1993. These windows remain a part of the newly renovated chapel.

    The stained-glass panel "Gratitude" is located in the narthex of Gannon's Mary, Seat of Wisdom Chapel. It was conceived and crafted by local artisan Donna Styborski Reese and commissioned in 2021 to serve as part of a recognition wall highlighting donors who contributed to the Campaign for the Mary, Seat of Wisdom Chapel.

    Mary, Seat of Wisdom Chapel Sanctuary Lamp Sponsorship

    The Sanctuary Lamp is lit 24 hours a day, 7 days a week in honor of our living or deceased family and friends. The lamp is generally requested in memory of someone (deceased) or in honor of someone (living) for one week (Monday-Sunday).

    To request the Sanctuary Lamp, please complete the online form.  You can also make your request by calling Sue Grande in the Chaplain’s Office at 814-871-7334, stopping by during regular business hours, or mailing in your request to:

    Office of the University Chaplain, 109 University Square, Erie, PA 16541

    Suggested donation for the lamp is $10.00. Checks can be made payable to Gannon University, with Sanctuary Lamp in the Memo line. Please include the following:

    1. Name(s) of the person(s) that are being remembered or honored. (Please include if they are living or deceased).
    2. Name(s) of who is requesting the Lamp and contact information (Phone, Email, mailing address)

    Date of specific week in which you would like for it to be lit or first available. We will do our best to honor specific dates but at times may need to schedule as close as we can to the requested dates.