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Convent of the Sacred Heart

Overbrook, PA

Main chapel, rear wall behind altar; right and left side chapels, altarpieces

Our Lady; St. Joseph and the Young Jesus; Archangels Michael, Uriel, Gabriel, Raphael; St. Helena, 1929

Commissioned by: Paul MonaghanMedium: oil and gilt on wood panelExecuted by: Hildreth MeièreRelocated to: (in part) Sacred Heart Academy Bryn Mawr, Bryn Mawr, PA

In 1929 Hildreth Meière received a commission from architect Paul Monaghan to decorate the wall behind the altar of the main chapel and two altarpieces for the side chapels at Convent of the Sacred Heart, Overbrook, Pennsylvania. Mother Grace Dammann, who had recently left Overbrook where she had been reverend mother from 1921-27, had suggested Meière’s name. Dammann’s connection to Meière went back over a decade; she had been head of Manhattanville’s boarding school, from which Meière had graduated in 1911.

For the wall behind the main altar, Meière painted a series of twelve wood panels with Archangels and Saints, using a Gothic style in keeping with the architecture:

Wall behind altar of main chapel

Wall behind altar of main chapel

The iconography Meière depicted can be seen in a chart showing figure placement:1

Iconography of main and side chapels, Convent of the Sacred Heart, Overbrook

Iconography of main and side chapels, Convent of the Sacred Heart, Overbrook

For the left side chapel, Meière painted an altarpiece of Our Lady.

Left side chapel with Our Lady altarpiece

Left side chapel with Our Lady altarpiece

On the altarpiece for the right side chapel she depicted St. Joseph.

Our Lady altarpiece

Our Lady altarpiece

St. Joseph altarpiece

St. Joseph altarpiece

As she had done five years earlier at St. Martin’s Church in Providence, Rhode Island, Meière incorporated the grain of the wood into her designs:

St. Helena

St. Helena

Individual saints on right door panel

Individual saints on right door panel

The Overbrook chapel was dedicated on November 6, 1929.

Main chapel at Convent of the Sacred Heart, Overbrook

Main chapel at Convent of the Sacred Heart, Overbrook

When the Convent of the Sacred Heart moved its school from Overbrook to Bryn Mawr in 1978, several of the wall panels were sold, and the altarpiece depicting Our Lady was either sold or lost. The altar with the altarpiece depicting St. Joseph and the Young Jesus, four of the panels with the Archangels Michael, Uriel, Gabriel, and Raphael, and the panel with St. Helena were transferred to Sacred Heart Academy Bryn Mawr, where they can be seen in the St. Thomas of Villanova Rosemont Chapel today:

St. Thomas of Villanova Rosemont Chapel

St. Thomas of Villanova Rosemont Chapel

Detail of Archangels Michael, Uriel, Gabriel, and Raphael

Detail of Archangels Michael, Uriel, Gabriel, and Raphael

Additional Resources

Commission Location

Emblem

Sacred Heart Academy Bryn Mawr
480 S. Bryn Mawr Ave.
Overbrook, PA 19010

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