FRONT ROYAL, Virginia (LifeSiteNews) — Christendom College’s striking new chapel officially opened its doors last weekend.
Christ the King Chapel was dedicated by Bishop Michael Burbidge of Arlington in a Mass on Saturday attended by Nigerian Cardinal Francis Arinze and more than 700 alumni priests, faculty, staff, and benefactors.
With a 116-foot crossing tower that can be seen from I-66, Christ the King Chapel has a powerful presence.
The Gothic-inspired church, designed by Arlington architecture firm O’Brien & Keene, features 114 stained glass windows, a 2,850-piece pipe organ, restored high altar, altar rail, and 12 bells housed in the chapel’s twin bell towers. It also boasts four side shrines and 10 statues by Spanish sculptor Edwin Gonzalez.
During the rites of dedication, Bishop Burbidge deposited a relic of St. Thomas Aquinas on the altar before blessing it with incense, the Catholic Herald noted.
He then anointed the altar and walls with sacred chrism, after which Christendom chaplain Father Marcus Pollard and Deacon Andrew W. Clark of Front Royal’s St. John Baptist Church processed in the chapel, blessing the walls with incense. The schola sang Gregorian chant throughout.
The Credo and Sanctus were also sung in Gregorian chant.
“Otherworldly” the only word I can think of to describe the dedication Mass for the new Christ the King chapel at Christendom College! pic.twitter.com/XAcLyVhcRh
— Jeremy Wayne Tate (@JeremyTate41) April 16, 2023
In 2008, Pope Benedict XVI blessed the chapel’s cornerstone, which bears his papal coat of arms. He praised the construction of the chapel months before his death in a letter to Christendom College president Dr. Timothy O’Donnell.
“It fills me with joy that this beautiful church is almost completed and will be consecrated and dedicated to Christ the King in the coming year,” the late pontiff wrote.
Paul Jalsevac, vice president of advancement at Christendom, told LifeSiteNews that Dr. O’Donnell prioritized Christ the King Chapel over more “practical” projects because “for the Catholic Church, Christ always comes first.”
“And this is our greatest need. The greatest need is to see beauty, to believe, to see what’s important. So, he had this vision.”
The chapel took almost four years to build and cost around $30 million. Christendom began fundraising for the project in 2016 and broke ground in 2019.
In his homily at the Mass of Dedication on Saturday, Bishop Burbidge celebrated the opening of Christ the King Chapel as a “very proud day” for the Diocese of Arlington and Christendom, which celebrates its 45th anniversary this year.
“We rejoice as we celebrate the 45th anniversary of Christendom College, a treasure within the Diocese of Arlington, and indeed a precious gift to the entire Church,” he said. “It is a very proud day for this diocese and this community.”
The dedication Mass followed a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Friday featuring former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, Cardinal Arinze, and members of the Front Royal Board of Supervisors and Town Council.
“It’s by going back to our roots and our foundation that we can find the way forward now for our country, for our society,” Dr. O’Donnell said at the event. “It’s my hope that each person who enters the chapel will encounter Christ. I hope that all who enter this college chapel will feel the richness of our common patrimony that we have as human beings and as Christians and recognize the incredible heritage that is ours.”