Mount St. Joseph University is proud to announce that its iconic Mater Dei Chapel has been officially named to the National Register of Historic Places by the United States Department of the Interior.

mater dei chapel

CINCINNATI - This designation is a testament to the history and cultural significance of the Chapel, which has served as a cornerstone of the University community for generations.

The Mater Dei Chapel has served as a focal point at the Mount since its completion in 1962.

Being added to the National Register of Historic Places not only honors Mater Dei Chapel's architectural significance, but also underscores its importance as a cultural and educational landmark. 

"We are deeply honored by the inclusion of Mater Dei Chapel on the National Register of Historic Places,” said President H. James Williams, Ph.D. “This designation reaffirms the Chapel's significance as a cherished symbol of our University's heritage and mission. We look forward to continuing to steward this beloved landmark for generations to come."

The National Register of Historic Places is the official list of the Nation's historic places worthy of preservation. Administered by the National Park Service, this program recognizes significant historical and cultural landmarks across the United States, ensuring their protection and appreciation for future generations.

"We are thrilled to receive the designation from the National Register of Historic Places. This acknowledgment reflects the enduring impact of the Chapel on our community,” said Sister Karen Elliott, C.PP.S., chief mission & belonging officer at the Mount.

The Mater Dei (which means Mother of God) Chapel is a two-story, mid-century modern style collegiate chapel located on Mount St. Joseph University’s campus. The interior of the Chapel is adorned with mid-century liturgical works of art that have a high degree of artistic value.

The overall interior design of Mater Dei Chapel and its associated works of art were fabricated under the direction of the University’s art department chair and Sister of Charity, Sister Augusta Zimmer, SC. The original Chapel design was proposed by the campus architect, L.P. Cotter, in 1958.

Sister Augusta, along with three Mount St. Joseph University students, Margaret Rolfes Brungs ’60, Judith Dettenwanger Ebbeler ’61, and Marlene Hoffman ’61, are responsible for the interior design, furnishings, and works of art within Mater Dei Chapel. Sister Augusta was assisted by Sister Ann Austin Mooney, SC, and Sister Loretta Ann McCarty, SC, who also contributed liturgical art to the newly constructed chapel.

“Mater Dei Chapel is more than just its beauty; it's a reminder not to give up on the talents bestowed upon us by God. It's a call to action to create something beautiful, to persevere and succeed. May its light continue to shine, lighting the way for all who pass through its doors,” added Sr. Karen.

There will be a celebratory Mass at the Mater Dei Chapel on March 19, at 7 p.m. All are welcome as the Mount honors the alumnae artists who created the artwork in the Chapel. 

Mass will conclude with a reception in the dining hall.

You can help preserve this national treasure, and join us in restoring Mater Dei Chapel for future generations at

Celebrate with Us

Join us in celebrating the women who created this national treasure at the St. Joseph Day Mass and Reception on March 19, 2024 at 7 p.m. Space is limited, please register in advance for this free event!

In photo: Images © Greg Grupenhof

About the Mount

As a Catholic institution rooted in the values of the Sisters of Charity, Mount St. Joseph University excels at serving the common good. Undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral students at the Mount are inspired to think beyond the classroom and redraw the bounds of what’s possible for their futures. This is accomplished through individualized educational experiences, a safe, secure campus environment, and an all-in commitment from faculty and staff to inspire students to reach their highest potential. The Mount fosters life-long learners who serve, care, and contribute to the world beyond their front doors.