The Chapel of St. Thomas Aquinas
The Chapel of St. Thomas Aquinas is a core element of the St. Paul campus of St. Thomas. Together with the Iversen Center for Faith, this is the spiritual heart of our campus.
We welcome all to the Chapel - our neighbors and others in the community, along with the students, faculty, and staff we are dedicated to serve.
With the start of the 2020-21 school year, the Chapel will be open to the campus community and broader public from 6:45 a.m. – 10 p.m., Monday – Friday and 9 a.m. – 6 p.m., Saturday and Sunday.
Hours during School Year:
Open 6:45 am - 10:00 pm Mon - Fri
Open 9:00 am - 6:00 pm Sat & Sun
The Chapel: The Last and Best Gift
History of the Chapel: 100 Years and Counting
Archbishop John Ireland commissioned the The Chapel of St. Thomas Aquinas, which was completed in 1919 by famed architect Emmanuel Masqueray, who was also a friend of the St. Thomas founder. Masqueray also designed the Cathedral of St. Paul and the Basilica of St. Mary in Minneapolis.
The Chapel was dedicated on May 29, 1919. Monsignor James Reardon called the chapel “the last and best gift of Archbishop Ireland to his beloved college.”
Architect Emmanuel Masqueray’s design is based on a Latin cross, with a nave 95 feet long and 43 feet wide.
In his 1997 book "The Chapel of St. Thomas Aquinas," Monsignor James Lavin noted “the magnificent spaciousness and the pleasing relationship between the greater and lesser arches” of the Chapel.
Complementing the incredible architecture itself is the execution over several decades of the master plan within, designed by Father Walter LeBeau, a longtime St. Thomas faculty member and director of religion. Throughout the windows, walls and ceilings, “an artistic course in Catholic theology portraying nothing less than ‘the whole plan of God’s dealing with men’” can be seen.
With a focus on revitalizing the Chapel as a symbol of faith on campus, renovations completed in 2020 include:
- Air conditioning was added.
- Wood pews and kneelers were replaced with custom-made pews to match the original design.
- Flooring was replaced with Kasota stone floor.
- An ADA ramp was added allowing access to the altar from the main seating area.
- Light fixtures at the Chapel’s first level were replaced with LED light fixtures.
- A code compliant fire alarm system was installed.
- Security cameras were added.
- The brass sanctuary doors on the altar were restored.
Countless life-defining events – from weddings to funerals, to Masses and concerts – have taken place for members of the St. Thomas community within the Chapel’s sacred doors. In the century since its dedication, the Chapel has stood on the upper quad as the University of St. Thomas grew and evolved around it.
Unique Features of the Chapel
In addition to the Chapel’s breathtaking architecture, the interior art is stunningly executed in wood, marble, paint and glass. Each piece of art is a unique treasure and was designed together to provide an artistic proclamation of Catholic faith.
The Altar and Ambo
As a fulfillment of a gift of the class of 2004, St. Thomas commissioned artist Alexander Tylevich to fashion a new sanctuary crucifix. The 11-foot-tall crucifix, suspended above the altar, is made with polished bronze to reflect light from the stained-glass windows.
Through the generosity of St. Thomas benefactors, the university commissioned Alexander Tylevich to design and create a sanctuary door, new altar and ambo, and inscribe into the sanctuary floor a hymn of the university's patron, Saint Thomas Aquinas.
The large pipe organ, installed in July 1987, was built by Gabriel Kney of London, Ontario. The organ, housed in a classic Werkprinzip case, has 2,787 pipes. The case is made of red oak and the basswood pipe shades and grill over the Swell shutters were carved by Kney based on motifs in the paintings on the ceiling of the Chapel.
The Iversen Center for Faith
The Iversen Center for Faith was built surrounding the Chapel, retaining the majesty of the Chapel while adding additional spaces for the university community to gather where faith can be celebrated and explored. The Center is the home of Campus Ministry, the Hoedeman Gallery of Sacred Art, the Interfaith Meditation Room, Schoenecker Hall, and amphitheater. Schoenecker Hall provides a 300-guest multipurpose gathering room (with an on-site catering kitchen) for receptions, suites for brides and grooms, and spacious bathrooms.