Military Chapels Tell Stories in Stained Glass

Given recent news reports that have decried the presence of crosses on military chapels, it might be easy to think military chapels are bland, featureless office buildings designed to neutrally serve any function. While that may be the way things seem, it is the opposite of the history of military chapels.

As previously noted, Fort Bragg’s All American Chapel updated thedecades-old Division Memorial Chapel, but retained the historic stained glass windows that documented the history of the division in image and Biblical scripture.  At the dedication in January, a new window was unveiled for the Afghan and Iraq conflicts, featuring Psalm 46:6-7.

Similarly, the 60-year-old St. Francis Xavier Catholic Chapel at Camp Lejeune (also in North Carolina) — which is fronted by a brick cross, angel sculpture, and topped by a tall cross on its steeple — sports stained glass windows featuring “warriors from scripture and history:”

The chapel’s stunning stained-glass windows depict warriors from scripture and history such as the archangel St. Michael, and St. Joan of Arc who fought for France during the Hundred Years War. The windows were paid for with contributions of Marines world-wide and were given to the church in 1948. They are dedicated to Marines and sailors who served in various units throughout World War II.

Many military chapels are non-descript buildings that serve a variety of other functions.  In other locations, however, particularly where space allows or history prevails, chapels carry the same — or more significant — traditional structures and history as some of their civilian counterparts.