Walking along 8th Avenue in midtown Manhattan, I was stopped in my tracks by the sound of church bells ringing. They were perfectly chiming out the tune “There’s no business like show business”. Gosh, isn’t New York wonderful? Following the sound of the pealing bells, I turned on 49th Street and found St. Malachy’s – otherwise known as The Actor’s Chapel. If it hadn’t been for the bells, I would never have known it was there. It is an unimposing little chapel, dwarfed by surrounding skyscrapers.
Inside, it retains its modest demeanour. It is ornate, but not too ornate. There’s lots of wood, which lends an inviting warmth to it, when compared to the cold stone floors of the churches, chapels and cathedrals I have visited in Europe.
The ceilings are vaulted, but there are places where the roof is lowered – almost Frank Lloyd Wright-esque in its design. There are little alcoves with ceilings of the darkest blue peppered with white stars, which put you in mind of the theatrical heavens of Shakespeare’s day .
The proportions create an entirely human space, which to me is quite unusual, and wonderfully refreshing, in a place of worship. All too often, places of worship are built, purposefully, on a scale that inspires awe and diminishes the human. How wonderfully appropriate that The Actor’s Chapel should instead be housed in a space that encourages and embraces humanity. Here are a few more pictures of this lovely space.
The saints featured in the chapel cater to all walks of the arts.
And last, but not least: