St. Clare of Assisi will be a brand new Catholic church on Daniel Island, but the inspiration for the architecture is coming from old-world Italy. The 21,000 square foot stone structure has been designed in the Neo-Gothic style with hints of Romanesque elegance. The clergy and architects took inspiration from the Basilica of Santa Chiara in Assisi, Italy which contains the remains of St. Clare who is the parish’s Patron Saint. Charleston’s own Trident Construction is heading up the project which broke ground in 2020. The Trident team, in collaboration with DC Architects Franck & Lohsen, is building what will be the largest new church in the state. Home to over 2,300 parishioners, the church will be located on Seven Farms Drive and will be adjacent to Etiwan Park as well as Bishop England High School.
“We wanted our new church to have the look and feel of a beautiful, timeless structure one might find in Italy or even historic downtown Charleston.” says Father Gregory West, Pastor of St. Clare of Assisi. “You will see inspiration from Stella Maris on Sullivan’s Island and from St. Matthews on King Street in our design.” The architecture will also include iconic towers and 170 foot spires which will pierce the skyline and serve as a terminus to Seven Farms Drive. Additionally, the master plan calls for a two-story administrative and education complex as well as a building serving as an event space. These structures will be connected by an exterior cloister offering a contemplative courtyard space.
If all of this wasn’t interesting enough, the story of the new parish church on Daniel Island has a remarkable twist. The original architectural design called for 12 stained-glass windows. Unfortunately, the parish was not able to afford them. Enter the Sisters of St. Francis in Pittsburgh. They had been living in a 300-bed convent built in 1897. Sadly, it was designated to be sold and all the furnishings of their chapel were to be auctioned off. But as they say, when God closes a door, he opens a window, and it just so happened that the 12 stunning Franz Mayer of Munich stained-glass windows which lined the Sisters’ chapel were not only the right price for the Daniel Island church, they also fit the window dimensions by mere inches. Coincidentally, two of the windows depict St. Clare! The glorious Bavarian windows are currently in storage along with other items purchased from the Sisters including the Statues of the Cross, the majestic high marble alter, the main alter as well as statues of St. Joseph, the Blessed Mother, St. Clare of Assisi and a marble Baptism Font.
St. Clare of Assisi parish which has 2,300 members, currently meets at Bishop England School. The new church is set to be completed in early 2023 and should include some impressive church lights. The successful capital campaign to raise funds for the land, church and furnishings has so far yielded
$14 million of the $22 million needed for the project. To enjoy a short video the building of the church and the story of the Sisters of St. Francis and the miracle of the windows, visit https://www.clare.church/building-progress.html
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