The Chapel of Christ the Teacher was dedicated 5 October 1986, and so is thirty years old this year. The name of the chapel expresses an essential theme of the University of Portland mission. As such, ‘Christ the Teacher’ is a motif that appears and reappears across campus defining and anchoring the spaces of campus life, dating back, probably, since before universities and corporations had a need to write out their mission statements.
The Sedes Sapientiae bas relief on the façade of the Library (1958) is an image of the child Jesus supported on his mother’s lap. The icon is a flat, literal reading with little poetry or ambiguity: Mary is the Seat of Wisdom because her child, Jesus, teaches from that throne. The same arrangement of mother and child is repeated on the reverse face of the O Cruceiro (1986), the granite path-marker which stands sentinel opposite the south steps of the Clark Library entrance.
Campus architecture repeats this visual theme in spatial arrangement. St. Mary’s was constructed (1937) as the first Commons, the student cafeteria. When the current dining facilities were built (1958), the St. Mary’s building was repurposed as the university chapel (1958-1985). Outgrowing St. Mary’s, The Chapel of Christ the Teacher was our first building designed and dedicated as a chapel.
With the intention of maintaining the near linkage between the two buildings, a Marian Garden was planned to enclose the area joining the Chapel and St. Mary’s. This space for reflection was fulfilled in stages, with the Galati rosary garden (1996) and the Bell Tower Plaza (2009).
The Figure of Christ the Teacher is also the principle sculpture in the Oddo Memorial group on the plaza between Franz and Mago Hunt Halls, classroom buildings for the Fine Arts, Business School, and humanities classes.
Library, Chapel, classrooms: in prayer, academics, and study: Christ the Teacher is present at the University of Portland.
For a related post about the Chapel: https://sites.up.edu/museum/sanctuaries/
(Gallery of Photos from the University Archives)