Blue Chapel

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Convent of the Dominican Sisters of the Perpetual Rosary
605 14th Street
Union City, New Jersey
CountryUnited States
TypeDominican Order
Size1.4 acres (5,700 m2)
No. of graves65

The Monastery of the Dominican Sisters of the Perpetual Rosary, known as the Blue Chapel, is a former monastery in Union City, Hudson County, New Jersey, in the United States. The cloister takes its name from the blue tinted windows that were part of the original chapel. Since being abandoned in 2008, the structures and grounds of the complex, which include a cemetery, face an uncertain future.


In 1891, Father Damien-Marie Saintourens of the Order of Preachers came from France and was joined by nuns in what was then West Hoboken, New Jersey where they established the American branch of Dominican Nuns of the Perpetual Rosary.[3][4] Between 1912 and 1914 the Gothic Revival complex was built as the first monastery in the United States dedicated to the recitation of the Perpetual Rosary. The Passionist fathers of St. Michael's Monastery and Church acted served as chaplains at the chapel's services.[5] Twenty-one other centers were later established across the country.

Adornments included art work created by former resident Sister Mary of the Compassion.[6] and stained glass windows originally thought to have been imported from Germany, but discovered in 2012 to have created in Buffalo, New York by stained glass artist Leo P. Frohe (1851 - 1919) of Buffalo Glass Works in the spirit of the historic Munich School style.[1] The convent housed a number of important relics, including those of the True Cross and fragments of a bone of Saint Dominic.[7]

The landscaped grounds encompass 1.4 acres (5,700 m2) and are enclosed by a high stone wall creating an oasis in the densely populated urban neighborhood which surrounds it. There are approximately 65 graves of nuns located in the cemetery on the property. The U-shaped bluestone building that included the chapel, dormitories, kitchen, and offices was well-maintained for many years, but as finances and residents diminished it began to fall into disrepair, and was vacated in 2009. Water damage and lack of heat have contributed to further deterioration.[8]

Plans to by the order to renovate the building to apartments were met with community opposition and were withdrawn, leaving the status of the complex uncertain. The convent is not listed on the New Jersey Register of Historic Places or the National Register of Historic Places. Preservation New Jersey, a historical preservation organization, considers the landmark to one of the state's most endangered historic sites.[7] The city has expressed interest in preserving the site, and tried draw attention to the complex in 2011 by placing a historic site marker there.[9] Protective stipulations were written into the city's zoning plan passed in early 2012. Around the same time, local historian Tony Squire made the discovery that the stained glass windows, which are still in excellent condition for their age, were not made in Germany, but by artist Leo P. Frohe. Because obtaining national landmark status for the Chapel would require establishing its architectural or historical importance as "the work of a master" or the studio of a significant artist, it is speculated that Squire's research may reveal Frohe as such a master. Frohe enthusiast believes that Frohe indeed qualifies, as the Buffalo Stained Glass Works has a history that traces back to the beginning of stained glass in the United States, and Frohe himself was awarded a silver medal in the Exposition Universelle of 1889 in France for his work, beating hundreds of fellow American competitors.[1]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Pope, Gennarose (July 1, 2012), "Windows of opportunity". The Union City Reporter. Pages 1 and 5.
  2. ^ Wikimapia: The-Blue-Chapel-Cloister-of-Nuns
  3. ^ "History". The Cloistered Dominican Nuns of the Perpetual Rosary. Retrieved 2011-08-18. In 1880, the Very Reverend Damien M. Saintourens, OP, while zealously promoting the Association of the Perpetual Rosary among the laity, was inspired by Our Lady of Lourdes to found a community of cloistered contemplative sisters, whose sole purpose and apostolate would be to pray the Holy Rosary perpetually, that is, at every hour, both day and night. Forming a Guard of Honor to the Blessed Virgin Mary would thus be assured faithfulness and continuity. Together with Mother Rose of St Mary, OP of the Mauleon Monastery in France he founded a new community modeled on the Constitutions of the existing monasteries of Contemplative Nuns and making appropriate modifications. So, with all proper ecclesiastical permissions, Father Saintourens opened, at Calais, France, the first convent of Dominican Sisters of the Perpetual Rosary. It flourished and later moved to Louvain, France. In 1891, a foundation was made from there to West Hoboken, from which point numerous other foundations were made.
  4. ^ "The Blue Chapel in Union City: A landmark now silenced and threatened by erasure", The Jersey Journal, March 3, 2011, retrieved 2011-08-18
  5. ^ Fusco, Mary Ann Castronovo (December 20, 1998). "In Union City, An Order Enveloped By Sounds of Silence". The New York Times. Retrieved 2011-08-25.
  6. ^ Gomez, John (March 7, 2011). "Sister Mary of the Compassion, a cloistered nun at the Blue Chapel, was renowned for her artwork".
  7. ^ a b "The Blue Chapel". 10 Most Endangered Historic Sites in New Jersey 2010. Preservation New Jersey. 2009–2010. Retrieved 2011-08-18.
  8. ^ Gomez, John (March 7, 2011), "The Blue Chapel in Union City: Legends & Landmarks", The Jersey Journal
  9. ^ Mestanza, Jean-Pierre (May 28, 2011), "Historical marker celebrating Union City's Blue Chapel unveiled today", The Jersey Journal, retrieved 2011-08-18

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 40°45′41″N 74°02′16″W / 40.76129°N 74.03790°W / 40.76129; -74.03790 (Blue Chapel)