Our Chapel Mural
Following the April 4, 1949 fire at St. Anthony’s Hospital (Effingham, Illinois), the Hospital Sisters of St. Francis chose to rebuild the hospital. In 1951, Mother Magdalene Wiedlocher, OSF, Provincial Superior of the Hospital Sisters of St. Francis, signed a contract with the architectural firm of Henry R. Slaby Company (Milwaukee, WI) to design the hospital and Slaby coordinated the chapel’s decorative elements with T.C. Esser Company (Milwaukee, WI). Mother Magdalene requested a crucifixion scene for the sanctuary and Esser offered the rendering of three artists. Professor Joseph August (Sepp) Frank of Munich, Germany was chosen and his mural, at a cost of $1,600, would measure 6 foot by 9 inches wide by 13 and ½ feet tall.
St. Anthony’s Memorial Hospital was dedicated on May 16, 1954. The chapel was dedicated with a pontifical low Mass on October 15, 1955 by Bishop William A. O’Connor of the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois as the presider.
Biography of Artist: Professor Joseph August (Sepp) Frank (1889-1970)
Professor Frank, born on August 28, 1889 in Miesbach, Germany, mostly lived in Neustadt on the Aisch and Feldafing and studied at the Munich Academy of Visual Arts. Besides being a portrait, landscape, graphic, and mural artist, he also developed Exlibris (book owner’s identification labels). Most significantly, he designed stained glass for the Munich Cathedral, Marian Church in Limburg on the Lahn, St. Otto Church in Bamberg, Church of St. Gabriel in Munich, St. Agatha Church in Dulmen-Rorup, and for the administrative building of the DeGussa GmbH in Herne-Wanne-Eickel. While much of his art in Germany was partly destroyed in World War II, the Effingham hospital chapel mural remains on display. Professor Frank died on February 20, 1970 in Munich.
Narrative Regarding Mural
The mural depicts the crucified Jesus Christ on Calvary (in Hebrew the word Calvary is Golgotha and it is called, the hill of the skull). The chapel mural also depicts the Blessed Virgin Mary (left) and St. John (right) and St. Mary Magdalene (kneeling). The letters “INRI” are initials in Latin, the official language of the Roman Empire, for the title “Iesus Nazarenus Rex Iudaeorum” (Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews). “Pilate also had an inscription written and put on the cross...it was written in Hebrew, Latin, and Greek. So the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate, ‘Do not write The King of the Jews; but that he said, I am the King of the Jews.’ Pilate answered, ‘What I have written, I have written.’” (John 19:19-22)