RISING SUN — Like most chapels, the one at The Episcopal Carmel of St. Teresa is small and quiet; a prayerful place to reflect and connect with God.
However in the chapel at the convent, which sits off U.S. Route 1 just outside of Rising Sun, there’s an extra feeling of the sacred with the addition of the predieux once owned by Father Mychal Judge.
On Sept. 11, 2001, moments after two planes hijacked by terrorists slammed into the World Trade Center in New York City, Judge, who was the official chaplain of the New York City Fire Department, raced to the scene and immediately began to pray for the dead and the dying. He entered the North Tower to pray over bodies and was heard praying aloud as the South Tower collapsed. In a biography about the Franciscan priest, author Michael Daly wrote that Judge was heard praying, “Jesus, please end this right now! God, please end this!”
Judge died from blunt force trauma when the South Tower collapsed just before 10 a.m. and debris flew into the North Tower.
The North Tower fell approximately 30 minutes later.
His body was recovered and carried out by five firefighters in what is considered now one of the iconic photos of that day.
Mychal’s twin sister lived in Berlin, Md. until recently according to Sister Barbara, prioress of the Carmel. Father Judge would spend his vacations there, visiting his sister Dympna. In clearing out her home to move to Texas she debated what to do with her brother’s predieux. A predieux is a bench or kneeler used for private or personal prayer.
The word predieux, or prie-dieu is French, meaning “praying to God,” Sister Barbara said.
Sister Barbara said the item almost ended up in the trash until someone in the Berlin congregation of which Dympa was a member suggested it be rehomed. It was brought to the convent.
“It’s a simple piece of furniture,” said Sister Teresa Irene, another member of the convent. Unlike other predieux, this one has no ornamentations or markings. The cushion on the kneeler shows long years of wear. The members of the convent want it that way. They use it in their own devotions.
Sister Teresa said members of the Franciscan order take vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. “So it makes sense that it’s simple.”
The Right Rev. San Marray, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Easton, has seen the piece and recognizes its place in American and church history.
“He said, ‘Don’t ever take this out of here,’” Sister Teresa recalled.
For Sister Barbara, it adds to the holiness of being in the chapel.
“I feel a closeness,” she said. “It’s special when I use this predieux.”