Within the Miriam College (MC) Higher Education compound is the MMJ Hall that is named after Mother Mary Joseph Rogers (1882-1955), the founder of the Maryknoll Sisters of St. Dominic. The MMJ Hall is home to many offices, such as the Adult Education program, the Guidance Counseling office, the photocopy center, the Internet Research Centre, the International Partnerships and Programs Office, and the Gallery of Women’s Art (GAWA). However all these services are found only at the ground floor of the MMJ Hall, whereas the second floor is almost dominated by the Miriam College Chapel.
The Miriam College Chapel was completed along with the MMJ Hall in the 1950s, and it is a beautiful example of the architectural International Style, which was in vogue during that time. Its simple altar breaks away from the Baroque ornamentation that most Philippine churches have, with an arch that represents the retablo niches for saints and a simple wooden cross over a wrought iron image of the globe, signifying Christ as the King of the Universe.
Continuing with the modernist design of the chapel, the wooden sculptures of the Madonna and Child and that of Saint Joseph flanking the altar are rendered in the sleek Art Deco style that is similar to the works of Joseph Sibbel (1850-1907) and Gérard Francis Hubert Linssen (1858-1921).
Finally the 14 Via Crusis or Stations of the Cross that are placed on the side support columns of the chapel are square cast bronze plaques that are mounted on small wooden crosses. These pieces were created a certain L. Day, but I have yet to determine the exact name of the sculptor.
The Via Crusis are fourteen events that relate the Passion and Death of Jesus Christ. Although these are on permanent display in every Catholic church around the world, the ritual of the Via Crusis is only observed during the Holy Week, of the Lenten Season. On Maundy Thursday of Good Friday, Catholic pilgrims would recite the Stations of the Cross, sometimes visiting seven churches in one day as the recite the passages for two Stations of the Cross in each church. This ritual is called the Visita Iglesia.
Amidst the rush between classes and the deadlines of assignments, the Miriam College Chapel serves as a quite respite from the day’s stress. The Miriam College populace should be very appreciative of the modern masterpiece of art and architecture, which does away with the distractions of ornamentation, and focuses on the essence of Christian symbolism and their truths.