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Zilber Hall’s inspiring sacred space

By Jessie Bazan, communication junior
Photo by Ben Smidt

There is something intrinsically beautiful and wholly refreshing about sacred space. Amid the crazy realities of life, these peaceful havens invite individuals to retreat, reflect and rejuvenate. Marquette has several of these spaces on campus, the newest of which is on the second floor of Zilber Hall. The Madonna della Strada Chapel, named in honor of the first Jesuit church in Rome, affords Marquette community members a quiet, intimate space inside one of the university’s most active buildings.

“Jesuit schools like Marquette that encourage faith, depth and imagination are compelled to create campuses that speak in their physicality about Christ’s mission,” said Dr. Stephanie Russell, vice president for the Office of Mission and Ministry, at the September 27th chapel blessing.

Helping to invoke that spirit of inspiration are four glass panels imprinted with illustrations from The St. John’s Bible. (Marquette acquired a rare modern-day manuscript of The St. John’s Bible: Heritage Edition in 2011. It is exhibited in Raynor Memorial Libraries.) Colorful depictions of the Creation story, the Word made Flesh, the Suffering Servant and the Resurrected Jesus appearing to Mary Magdalene illuminate the chapel. Each one stands nearly 6 feet tall and serves as the chapel’s main visual draw.

“As you visit the space, sit with the vibrant colors and dynamic brush strokes,” encouraged President Scott R. Pilarz, S.J., at the blessing. “Let these great images … capture your imagination and draw you more deeply into the life of God.”

With the addition of this sacred space, Marquette reaffirms its commitment to the university’s broader mission. “It’s a statement of our Catholic, Jesuit identity that says prayer, worship, meditation and trying to engage the holy in some way is important to our mission,” says Timothy Johnston, assistant director of liturgical programs. “By providing space to do that, I think we encourage and invite those who work at Marquette to really engage that piece of the mission in whatever faith tradition they want.”


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