Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

One woman’s promise to God January 6, 2015

The Chapel of the Good Shepherd.

The Chapel of the Good Shepherd.

IT STANDS STATELY and tall on the campus of Shattuck-St. Mary’s School in Faribault. The Chapel of the Good Shepherd, or, to be exact, the Eunice Shumway Memorial Chapel of the Good Shepherd.

Inside the historic sanctuary, the pews face the aisle rather than the altar.

Inside the historic sanctuary, the pews face the aisle rather than the altar.

Eunice’s mother, Augusta Shumway, pledged $20,000 to build the chapel. After construction began in June 1871, Augusta lost nearly everything in the Great Chicago Fire of October 1871. Despite her loss, Augusta fulfilled her promise, sending $15,000 in insurance payments to Bishop Henry Whipple. She later donated more monies to the school.

Looking up at the altar and the stunning stained glass windows above it.

Looking up at the altar and the stunning stained glass windows above it.

The bishop quoted his friend Augusta in his book, Lights and Shadows of a Long Episcopate: Being Reminiscences and Recollections of the Right Reverend Henry Benjamin Whipple:

“Bishop, I promised God to build the chapel in memory of my daughter. I owe but one debt, and that is to God. I have collected enough of insurance money to complete the building, and here it is.”

Two behind-the-altar windows up close.

Two behind-the-altar windows up close.

Wrote the bishop: It was a noble instance of woman’s faith.

Whipple summarizes well the intentions of Augusta, who only a dozen years earlier lost her 13-month-old daughter.

The bell tower spire is a Shattuck landmark.

The bell tower spire is a Shattuck landmark.

What faith. What hope. What generosity.

BONUS PHOTOS:

The arched wooden front doors present an impressive entry.

The arched wooden front doors present an impressive entry.

The exterior is tastefully and simply decorated for the holidays.

The exterior is tastefully and simply decorated for the holidays.

Outside the front door. The church is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Outside the front door. The church is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Just inside the doors, a creche.

Just inside the doors, a creche.

A close-up of the Holy Family shows Joseph viewing the Christ Child.

A close-up of the Holy Family shows Joseph viewing the Christ Child.

On a wall inside the entry.

On a wall inside the entry.

Beautiful stained glass above the exterior entry doors.

Beautiful stained glass above the exterior entry doors.

© Copyright 2015 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

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14 Responses to “One woman’s promise to God”

  1. treadlemusic Says:

    What sense of duty and honor to a promise made! Whether one agrees to the details in this particular event, one/I have to wonder where has the discipline of “follow-through” and being true to your word (even at great cost!) gone? And we all are the poorer for its loss……………….

  2. Beautiful pictures of that amazing church. Wow great story too.

  3. Marneymae Says:

    Beautiful
    Im struck by the arrangement of the pews, which ive only ever seen in Quaker Meeting halls.
    Ive heard of an Evangelical Lutheran church in Colorado with a similar configuration (in a circle)
    Is that common there in Minnesota?

  4. Jackie Says:

    Love hearing how this chapel came-to-be. This is such a beautiful structure, they just dont build this way anymore. The exterior is just as stunning as the inside.

  5. This is a truly beautiful post. The photographs are beyond gorgeous and the story of the grieving mother sticking to her pledge is so moving.

  6. hotlyspiced Says:

    That really is a very beautiful, peaceful-looking church. I love the architecture and the story behind how it came to be built. So good of the woman to fulfil her pledge after suffering such a tragedy xx


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