Art History



Degree Name

Master of Arts in Art History (M.A.)

Type of Paper/Work

Qualifying paper


Victoria Young

Second Advisor

William L. Barnes

Third Advisor

Elizabeth Kindall


It is an observable truth that the environment in which human beings live in has an
impact on how we behave. Manipulating this environment, particularly in schools or places where individuals or groups of people stay for extended periods of time, allows designers and clients to shape an understanding of the world a user inhabits. This can help draw communities together, create positive environments and, especially in institutions, inform people about the goals of the establishment. For religious communities, this has become more and more important as the world questions what the role of religion is in society. Because of this, it is also important for the clergy to understand their goals as set out by the church they are part of. Among Catholic ecclesiastic seminaries – schools which train and form Catholic priests – the St. Paul Seminary was carefully designed to help with this priestly formation. Though it was
first built at the end of the nineteenth century, those involved carefully considered the goals of the priesthood and the need of priests in Minnesota and took that into account in the building of the campus. The true heart of a Catholic Seminary, however, is its chapel. In this paper I demonstrate that the St. Mary’s Chapel at the St. Paul Seminary was carefully constructed and decorated to create a built environment that would help the seminarians understand their role as priests. To do this I first examine the goals as set out by the founders of the school and the general needs of the Catholic Church in America. Several bishops and archbishops influenced its
founding and the architects and artists also brought their experience and understanding to the project. Then through a formal and iconographical analysis as well as ritual analysis, I examine how the space was used and how the space manifested the role that it was intended to play in the formation of seminarians.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.