Stay at Home in Wilton residents kicked off their holidays recently with a showing of the elaborate stained glass windows at the chapel of School Sisters of Notre Dame in Wilton. Giedra Troncone, whose father, Vytautas K. Jonynas, created the pictorial glass, led a tour of the windows.
Mr. Jonynas had emigrated to New York City from Lithuania, and Ms. Troncone spoke fondly of him and his devotion to his art, telling a story of her father once asking her to blow on a ruler so he could use her image as an angel blowing a horn.
Wilton’s picturesque chapel was described in a book by Robert H. Mutrux and John Updike, who deemed it one of the 10 best in New England.
Robert H. Mutrux built the chapel with the cooperation of various artists and craftsmen under the directives of Mother Mary Paschal. Construction began in 1960 and was dedicated on Dec. 8, 1961.
“Please give us a beautiful chapel,” said Ms. Troncone, quoting Mother Paschal to church members at a showing of the stained glass.
“The chapel features two main walls composed almost entirely of stained glass windows,” Ms. Troncone said.
“Their design was placed in international competition and Vytautas K. Jonynas was awarded the project, designing and executing its 14 floor-to-ceiling windows, held in place by slender, reinforced concrete columns and arches.”
The result is a well-lit chapel with colors changing throughout various seasons and times of day.
Mr. Jonynas intended for the windows to be both traditional, representing biblical figures and their lives, and contemporary in style.
The dilemma was solved by giving each window recognizable figures but placing them in a background whose forms are “rhythmical, multicolored, fragmented, and thus abstract,” according to Ms. Troncone.
Upon entering the chapel, the wall to a guest’s left depicts scenes from the life of Mary, and the traditional color is mainly blue. The chapel’s right wall focuses on the life of Jesus, in which crimson reds and gold are the dominant colors.
The architect chose a muted, pale interior (white terrazzo floor, white marble altar, an altar screen of 12 walnut panels) in order to focus on the colorful windows. The apostles featured on the altar were completed by Mr. Jonynas’ former student, V. Kasuba, a Lithuanian sculptor.
“The wood of the crucifix, I am told, was rescued from a local 200-year-old hickory barn,” Ms. Troncone said. “The building is also a good neighbor, conforming to the town’s building laws, which limit the height of any structure to two and a half stories.”
Ms. Troncone recommends residents visit the chapel for the holiday season.
“If you have the time, this chapel is worth your visit,” she said. “The entrance is through the main portal; you will be buzzed in by the porter. The sisters are very welcoming and will leave you in peace to appreciate, paraphrasing Le Corbusier, ‘a place of silence, of prayer, of peace, of spiritual joy.’”