During the week in Emmitsburg, I had the opportunity to travel to Gettysburg with a couple of my classmates, Aileen and Kathryn. Shout out to Aileen who brought her car with her so we could adventure!
The very brief history of the Battle of Gettysburg goes like this:
The battle lasted for three days during July 1- 3 in 1863. The battle is seen as a turning point in the American Civil War. The battle was ultimately a Union victory under Maj. General George Meade, who commanded the Army of the Potomac. The Army of the Potomac, after three days, was able to hold back General Robert E. Lee’s Confederate Army and force their retreat back south. This would be the last time, the Confederate Army would attempt an invasion of the Northern States.
During those three days it is estimated that there were between 46,000- 51,000 causalities, making it the most costly in United States History.
After the Battle, Daughters and Sisters of Charity from Emmitsburg (see previous posts) arrived in Gettyburg on July 5th to tend to the wounded of both armies. Other retreating soldiers were cared for by Sisters who had remained at Saint Joseph’s campus.
For more information about the Battle of Gettysburg, please check out the “Further Information” section, there are many wonderful online resources.
That’s all I’m going to write, the rest of this post are all just photos from the battlefield.
This is the monument for Pennsylvania, it is the largest monument at Gettysburg. It is made of North Carolina granite over an iron and concrete frame. It was dedicated on September 27, 1910.
If you have any comments or questions, let me know in the comment section below!
Part deux of my adventures in Emmitsburg, Maryland.
The really cool part of being at the National Emergency Training Center is that it is right next door to the National Shrine of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton. A tour was offered of the Basilica after hours if you were at the training center, so I took the opportunity to see the Shrine.
The grounds of the Shrine consists of a walking path, a number of buildings, and a cemetery. If you find yourself in the area, the grounds are open to walk around until dusk, while the Basilica and museum are open almost daily from 10- 4:30 pm.
Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton (1774-1821) is the first native born United States citizen to be canonized, which means to be named a saint. She was canonized in 1975 by Pope Paul VI. In 1991 the chapel, which was originally designed as the chapel for the sisters in the Daughters of Charity, was designated as a minor basilica by Pope John Paul II; it was already the national shrine prior to this.
So, I’m sure you have some questions:
1. What exactly did Mother Elizabeth Ann Seton do during her life to be canonized?
2. What is a basilica, it sounds like architectural jargon!?! It is….
Anyways, I’ll answer the easier of the two.
Who exactly was Mother Seton?
The shortened biography goes something like this…Elizabeth Ann Bayley was born in 1774 into an Anglican family in New York City. In 1794, she married William Magee Seton and they had five children. William was not in the greatest health and because of this he, Elizabeth, and their eldest child, Anna Marie, sailed to Italy for warmer weather believing this would help William’s health. William also had business partners in Italy, Filippo and Antonio Filicchi, who they planned to stay with.
Sadly, the warmer weather did not help. William passed away before the end of 1803. While in Italy though, Elizabeth was introduced to the Catholic faith through the Filicchi family. Upon returning to the United States, she converted to the Roman Catholic Faith in 1805. By 1808, she was traveling with her family and companions, to Emmitsburg to start a school for girls. She was successful in starting a school, St. Joseph’s Academy, which eventually morphed into Saint Joseph’s College. She also created the congregation of religious sisters called, the Sisters of Charity.
This is the Stone House, where Mother Seton, her children, and companions first lived when they moved to Emmitsburg to start a school. The home was constructed in 1750 and is also known as the Fleming farmhouse. The size of home today is almost double what Mother Seton and her companions lived in. When they first arrived, the home only consisted of 4 rooms and there were 16 people living in them, and they managed to have space for a temporary chapel in the same building.
This was the only photo I managed to take of this home. This house was constructed in 1810 after Archbishop John Carroll of Baltimore visited Mother Seton and saw the condition of the Stone House they were living in. He did not like the conditions of the Stone House and directed that a new home be built for the group. This building is also known as St. Joseph’s House and would have been the original location for the academy.
The cemetery contains the graves of Sisters and Daughters of Charity, along with priests.
This little chapel was constructed after Mother Seton passed away in 1821. Her son, William, financed the construction. Mother Seton’s remains were here from 1846 until the 1960’s when they were moved to the basilica after her beatification.
This is the original gravestone for Mother Seton, the stones in front of her are for her family members that traveled to Emmitsburg with her.
This leads us to the other question.
What exactly is a basilica?
So historically a basilica was a type of large public building found in Rome. It was used for business or legal matters- not religious matters. It typically would have been a semi-circular space roofed with a half dome. Finally, when Christianity was no longer illegal in the Roman Empire in the 4th century, Christians began to publicly construct basilicas.
The most basic interior layout of the basilica would have consisted of:
Nave – This is the central aisle that religious processions walk down
Aisles– One on each side of the central nave
Apse– This is the location where the altar is, typically it is opposite of the main entrance
From this basic interior plan, a basilica can greatly vary. For example there could be transepts, which would go off of the outer aisles expanding the layout into a “cross” plan. There can also be differences in the ceiling vaults. Examples: the central nave has a ceiling that extends upwards another story allowing for windows while the ceilings above the aisles are not as tall OR the height of all three ceilings and their vaults are all similar in size meaning there might not be windows.
To confuse matters a little more, “basilica” can also refer to an ecclesiastical status for a church.
There are two rankings for basilicas with this type of status: major and minor.
There are only four major or papal basilicas, these are all located in Rome and have something called a “holy door” it’s a very specific type of door.
Then there are minor basilicas, these are churches, chapels, etc. that have been decreed by the acting Pope to be designated as a minor basilica (typically a Papal brief is issued). This allows that building the right to conopaeum, a specific type of canopy to be displayed. It’s red and gold and looks like an umbrella. There is also the right to display a bell called, tintinnabulum, and the cappa magna, which is a robe. All of these link the basilica to the Pope.
The basilica at Emmitsburg was completed in 1965 and the interior was made entirely by German and Italian craftsmen and artisans. I tried researching more on the architecture of the basilica but I could find nothing! The church is definitely Italianate in style. It’s beautiful.
The following are images from within the basilica for Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton. You should be able to “right click” on any of the images to open into a new page, this will allow you to slightly zoom into the images to see more details.
The central image is of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph.
This is an altar to Saint Louise de Marillac, who was a co-founder of the Daughters of Charity in France in 1633.
Stay tune for the next post on Gettysburg, which has a link to the Sisters of Charity!
Thanks for reading!
For More Information:
All of my information came from a handout I received at the Basilica and from the Shrine’s website. I attached the National Register nomination again because it does discuss the Stone House, the White House, and the cemetery. I can’t seem to conclude whether or not the Basilica is actually included in the district. I assume it is, but there’s no real information about the building and it’s construction, which is weird.
I spent last week in Emmitsburg, Maryland at the National Emergency Training Center for FEMA. It was a long and exciting week filled with excruciating travel days, beautiful historic buildings, and a trip to the Gettysburg Battlefield in Pennsylvania.
Since there was so much seen, I’ve split my initial post into four different topics: Saint Joseph’s College, the Basilica of the National Shrine of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, the Gettysburg National Park, and how to survive airport layovers of up to 15 hours. So that means, keep a look out for those upcoming posts!
I arrived in Emmitsburg, Maryland in the late afternoon last Sunday. I was asleep most of the bus ride that took me from Baltimore Airport to the training campus. The National Emergency Training Center is located on the former campus of Saint Joseph’s College. The college, originally the Saint Joseph’s Academy and Free School, was started shortly after Mother Elizabeth Ann Seton arrived in Emmitsburg in 1809. The academy was the first free parochial school for girls in the United States; officially it was incorporated as a school in 1816. It remained a school until 1973, during those years it changed names a number of times, and it was in 1902 that the school officially became a four-year liberal arts college for women. The college officially closed in 1973 and students and faculty merged with Mount Saint Mary’s University, which is located near Emmitsburg. The buildings and cemetery of the campus and the Mother Seton Shrine were listed in 1976 on the National Register of Historic Places as a historic district. In 1979, the Sisters of Charity, a religious order established by Mother Seton, sold the old campus to the FEMA. It was renamed the National Emergency Training Center in 1981.
The old campus buildings are a conglomerate of different architectural styles. I didn’t photograph every building, only the ones that were the most interesting to look at.
The photograph above is the Burlando Building constructed in 1870; it’s the most recognizable building on campus. I only was able to get a few exterior photos of the building because I never had enough time to get into the building. The building is considered to be a “provincial” example of the Second Empire Style, thanks to it’s prominent mansard roof! So…before I move on, “provincial,” not my word, this came from page two of the original National Register nomination (that’s listed below for you to check out).
When ever I see this word, I immediately think Beauty and the Beast and I want to break out in song! What it means or at least how it was used in the nomination for this district….is that it’s not “high-style,” so the building has some of the most common architectural features of a specific style but not all of the features to make it perfect prime example of what Second Empire Revival looks like.
Right next to the Burlando Building is the Saint Joseph’s Chapel.
It took me two days to get into this building. The first attempt was after classes on Monday. Every damn door was locked. It’s not a usual thing when I can’t find a way into a building but when it does happen, I realize immediately how sketchy I look, systematically trying every door in the middle of the afternoon. It’s a good thing it wasn’t at night!
On an extreme side note, I always think that should I get stopped and questioned by law enforcement for looking sketchy outside of a locked building. I would just exclaim, “I’m a preservationist and this building DESERVES to be photographed…” and that would be more than enough and explain everything!
So anyways, since I couldn’t find a way into the Chapel, I checked out the “E” building on campus. This is the St. Vincent’s Hall, it seems to be connected to two other halls: Marillac and Seton. All three buildings were constructed between 1925-26 and are all Colonial Revival.
The interior of St. Vincent Hall is very intact, click through the photos to see.
This is in the entrance way into St. Vincent’s Hall
The auditorium is located on the second floor of St. Vincent’s Hall. It can seat over 400 people.
This is the oval medallion seen on the ceiling of the auditorium.
This is in the auditorium of St. Vincent’s Hall. It’s called a medallion and is a type of ornamentation seen on ceilings.
The next day I was able to get into the Chapel with some of my classmates. The Chapel was constructed in 1839 and in the National Register nomination papers, the chapel is considered to slightly be “Italianate” or even “Romanesque” in style because of the rounded arch windows. Mother Seton also asked that the church resemble the Tuscan architecture she had encountered while in Tuscany in the late 18th century. The plans were drawn up by Rev. Thomas Butler. Today the chapel is the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial Chapel.
There’s a small sundial in front of the Chapel!
St. Joseph’s Chapel was designated in 1999 as the National Fallen Firefighter’s Memorial Chapel and dedicated to the memory of Chief A. Marvin Gibbons, who had was the past president of the Maryland State Fireman’s Association.
There’s a nice cherry tree growing behind the Chapel. From this side of the chapel you can see more of the architectural features of the building. From this angle, it does look Italian or Tuscan or even Greek.
Hmmmmmm. Would I call this strictly a provincial type of “Italianate” or even “Romanesque”? No. Where are the Syrian arches? Joking. But really, where are they?!?
I think it would be more interesting and accurate to look at the Chapel as a combination of many different architectural elements inspired greatly by what Mother Seton wanted in 1839 and what was present in other Catholic churches in the early 19th century. The Chapel, is obviously “provincial” and I think is combines a lot of architectural features that would have been commonly seen in the early 19th century: the steeple is Wren-Gibbs inspired and there are rounded arches but those could be found on Greek Revival buildings or even Georgian Colonial structures. The building does give off an “Italian” feel but if it wasn’t constructed of brick and say, marble or another stone or even wood, would it still give that feeling…I don’t know.
I compiled a list of churches from roughly the same time frame that are considered either “Georgian Colonial” or “Greek Revival” that have comparable architectural features to the Saint Joseph’s Cathedral. There is one church that was constructed in the 20th century and is considered to be “Colonial Revival.” This help shows that it’s not always easy to pin-point an architectural style. There’s also links to Wikipedia pages about
Let me know what you think about the architectural style of the Chapel below in the comments.
Make sure to check in tomorrow to read the next post about my trip to Emmitsburg. We’re going to learn about the National Shrine of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton, which is located right next door to the National Emergency Training Center.