Holding services in the Lowcountry since 1937
Built in 1936, Summerall Chapel has held a special place in the life of the Corps of Cadets since its dedication. The cornerstone of the chapel was laid on September 7, 1936. The first service was held almost a year later on September 9, 1937, and the chapel was dedicated on April 10, 1938 as the Cadet Chapel. After General Summerall’s retirement as president of the Citadel in June of 1953, the name was officially changed to the General Pelot Summerall Chapel.
Cruciform in design, the chapel is in the style of 14th-century Gothic architecture. The great chancel window, located directly behind the altar, was dedicated in 1942 as a memorial to all Citadel graduates who gave their lives in their country’s cause. It portrays exemplars and symbols of courage, sacrifice, religion, truth, duty, loyalty, patriotism, faith, charity, prayer, adoration, praise, and immortality. The furniture throughout is plain sawed Appalachian Mountain white oak stained cathedral brown. The ceiling and timbering are pine. All of the stained glass was designed at a single studio and consequently is concordant throughout. Handcrafted wrought iron lighting fixtures hang throughout the chapel.
Summerall Chapel is a site of religion, of patriotism, and of remembrance. Every time the Corps marches the length of the parade ground, they can see the words, “Remember Now Thy Creator in the Days of Thy Youth” (Ecclesiastes 12:1). Marching inside, the Corps sees the stained glass windows calling them to remembrance and reverence. Once the Corps is seated, the Color Guard marches in with precision and ceremoniously places the flags of The Citadel and the United States in a position of honor and respect. The inscription above the altar, “To the Glory of God, and In Memory of The Citadel’s Patriot Dead” serves as a reminder of all who had gone before and lived the values of The Citadel.
Today, Summerall Chapel remains a special place in the lives of the Corps as well as its alumni. In the first place, it is for many of our cadets a place of sanctuary, a safe haven away from the constraints and stresses of cadet life. Secondly, it is of course a place of worship. Throughout the year, there are weekly Catholic and Protestant services of worship on Sundays and an Anglican worship service on Monday evenings. Cadets provide dynamic vibrant leadership in all of these services. Finally, it is for all who enter a place of prayer. It’s not uncommon throughout the week to find staff and faculty sitting in prayer. The inscriptions, windows, and ceremony still embody for each new generation the focus of ministry at the chapel and its importance to cadets who need a source of strength beyond their personal means.
Nondenominational. Since it is entirely nonsectarian, Summerall Chapel can belong to no particular denomination.
Class Windows. After the completion of the Chapel, each of the classes (up through the Class of 1944) had the opportunity to purchase a window as a lasting memorial to its members. The class windows show the life of Christ in superb stained glass with each window depicting an important event in His life. The great chancel window, located directly behind the altar, was dedicated in 1942 as a memorial to all Citadel graduates who have given their lives to their country’s cause. It portrays examples and symbols of courage, sacrifice, religion, truth, duty, loyalty, patriotism, faith, charity, prayer, adoration, praise, and immortality.
Medallions. The facade and transept windows are made up of a number of units or “medallions,” provided by families or friends of the men whom they commemorate. Only those who have been Citadel cadets and a few designated faculty and staff are so honored. The design of each of these medallions symbolically represents the person whom it commemorates. In keeping with the democratic spirit of the institution, all medallions are identical in size and in fineness of design.
Inscription. The inscription across the front of Summerall Chapel reading, “Remember Now Thy Creator in the Days of Thy Youth,” summarizes the spiritual atmosphere at The Citadel.
Chaplain to the Corps. The office of the Chaplain to the Corps is located in the rear of the chapel.