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Wednesday, August 20, 2008

St. Hubert's Chapel Visit

Imagine a perfect July day and the opportunity to take a boat trip through time to visit St. Hubert's Chapel on Lake Kinnelon... Would you hesitate? I sure didn't. In fact, I stood in line so I wouldn't miss out!

St. Hubert's Chapel sits on Chapel Island, the largest island in Kinnelon Lake in Smoke Rise. [See Lake Kinnelon Walk for a description of the islands].

The only way to access the chapel is by boat. Think of the implications...

Francis S. Kinney built St. Hubert's Chapel for his wife, Mary, so she wouldn't have to travel the 7 miles to the nearest church at the time, St. Anthony of Padua in Butler, NJ [which features a stained glass window with Kinney's name].

That time was the late 1880s.

Per the St. Hubert's Chapel booklet available if you take part in a tour of the chapel:

"In the Spring of 1886, Mr. Kinney, using his walking stick, drew a crude ground plan for the future chapel on the rough soil of the tiny island in the center of Lake Kinnelon [aka Stickle Pond]. No one knows why Mr. Kinney chose the remote island location for St. Hubert's Chapel. Some speculate that the location was symbolic of either the remote areas where St. Hubert established Christianity or Kinney's desire to place a watery separation between church and state.

Construction of St. Hubert's Chapel was conducted quietly and secretly, and its structure was erected in complete harmony with its rural environment. Rough stones were gathered from the slopes surrounding the lake, and during the winter, massive horse drawn sleds were used to transport them across the frozen lake to the remote island. The church proper and clock tower were completed first. Initially, the interior was a counterpart to the exterior, rough and unhewn. The ceiling was made of oaken rafters and the window frames were of massive oak as well.

The Chapel looked cold and cheerless in its early unfinished condition. Yet, on the morning of the feast of Ss. Chrysanthus and Daria, the Chapel was consecrated by William Wigger, Bishop of Newark, and placed under the patronage of Saint Hubert. It was then that Mr. Kinney determined to give his island shrine historical significance by reproducing, with meticulous historical and artistic accuracy, a medieval chapel from the period in which St. Hubert lived. To accomplish the task, Mr. Kinney commissioned Louis C. Tiffany to undertake the Chapel's interior decoration."

From a series of articles titled "Didja Know?" in the Smoke Rise Newsletter by Cornelius A. Hubner, starting in 1985, come these details:

"The cornerstone of St. Hubert's was laid nearly 100 years ago in 1886. The chapel completed in 1889 was consecrated by Bishop Wigger of the Newark Diocese* assisted by the Rt. Rev. James Dougherty and several priests from the Mission of St. Anthony in Butler."

Sitting in our boat, as we made our way to the chapel, and then back to the mainland afterwards, I couldn't help but feel awe over the scope of the project, and the logistics associated with getting workers, tools, materials and equipment across water.

Next: the interior of St. Hubert's Chapel

Note: I found no reference to Bishop William Wigger, only to Bishop Winand M. Wigger of Newark.

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