|Marguerite Brunswig Staude, an heiress and an artist, dreamed of building a chapel shaped like a cross. After she married Tony Staude in 1938, the couple lived in Sedona, where she found a perfect spot to build in Sedona's red rock country. Architects designed the chapel but Marguerite built a Madonna sculpture inside and designed Stations of the Cross. This beautiful, spiritual attraction is now administered by the Roman Catholic Church.
Region: North Central Arizona
Theme: Women in the Arts and Architecture
|Marguerite Brunswig was born in New Orleans, the daughter of Lucien Brunswig who founded the Brunswig Wholesale Drug Company. She lived a privileged life, traveling across Europe and attending private schools. Art interested her more than anything else, and as a young woman, she ran away to Paris to join other young artists who were developing their skills. Stone carving and sculpture inspired Marguerite, and she began working in these art forms.
During the 1930s, she lived and worked as an artist in Los Angeles and New York City. A visit to St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York inspired her to build a modern church. During the same time, she saw the newly completed Empire State Building, and a cross seemed to be superimposed on the structure. Marguerite dreamed of creating a church shaped like a cross. Returning to Los Angeles, she was excited about the idea, and her parents agreed to donate the land for the church. However, the archbishop of the Diocese of Los Angeles rejected Marguerite's proposal. She also attempted to build such a church in Budapest, Hungary, but World War II hostilities quashed those plans.
Marguerite married writer-businessman Tony Staude in 1938, and they bought a
home in the Sedona area. There she sculpted, made jewelry, and occasionally
taught art classes at the Sedona Art Barn. By 1950, her parents were both
deceased, and she once again began thinking of how to build a church as a
memorial to her parents. While on an airplane ride over the Sedona area, she
found a wonderful spot to build her church. However, the land was owned by the
U.S. Forest Service, and she had to secure government approval. Senator Barry Goldwater helped her to do so, and the Bishop of Santa Fe agreed with her plans.
Marguerite hired an architectural firm from San Francisco to design the chapel which has reinforced concrete monolith walls that are 12 inches thick. It is sandblasted both on the inside and outside to reveal aggregate red stone. Both ends of the chapel have smoked glass windows to provide unhampered views. The chapel construction began in 1955 and was completed in 1956. The following year, the American Institute of Architects gave the Chapel of the Holy Cross an Award of Honor.
Marguerite donated the chapel to the Roman Catholic Church but requested that no services be held there. She wanted to chapel to be a place to pray, reflect and find God through the beauty of art. The Chapel of the Holy Cross is visited annually by thousands of tourists from around the world. Some come to meditate while others enjoy the art and architecture, and still others love the spectacular views in all directions.
Visit the Chapel of the Holy Cross at 780 Chapel Road in Sedona.
Marguerite Brunswig Staude - Courtesy of the Sedona Heritage Museum