Chapel of St. Ignatius Continues to Shine, Celebrating 20 years

“Twenty years ago, Seattle University’s Chapel of St. Ignatius opened its doors on Palm Sunday, promising to provide a gathering place for prayer and liturgy. Today it continues to be an extraordinary place of worship – and has developed into something much more. The small gem, with its beacon-like colored lights glowing in the darkness at night, has grown into a magnetic symbol of Seattle U. A part of the university’s core identity, the chapel is a world-renowned architectural landmark. It’s the hub of a vibrant spiritual community with weekly Masses for students and the larger SU community and an open-hearted, meditative space.

In 1991, then-president William Sullivan, S.J., announced his plans for a chapel on campus dedicated to the founder of the Jesuits, St. Ignatius. The university hired Steven Holl, a Bremerton-born, internationally acclaimed architect, to lead the project. Holl was captivated by Ignatian philosophy and challenged by the notion of how to translate light and darkness into a sacred space.

The concept had two meanings. It reflected the Ignatian idea of “discernment,” the sorting through of internal light and darkness – St. Ignatius termed them “consolations and desolations” – to achieve clear purpose in decision making.

More than a physical landmark, the chapel has become part of the University’s identity. It embodies the university’s Jesuit mission, reaching out to the non-Catholic community with interdenominational services and events. Living up to Holl’s vision of a “gathering of lights,” the chapel is open to people of all faiths.

Over these past two decades, the chapel has evolved into a living place and vibrant home for a community that spans SU and its surrounding world – with more than 40,000 visitors annually. It surely will find new, creative ways to fulfill that role in the future.”

– Seattle University, President’s Report, April 2017