The Little Chapel Foundation

History

The Brothers:

Established in 1680 by Jean-Baptiste de La Salle – The Brothers of the Christian Schools, a Catholic religious order devoted to the education of boys.

The Order flourished and in the early 20th Century there were more than 6000 brothers teaching in France.

In 1904, the French Government passed anti-religious laws banning all faith schools and many of the Brothers left France to continue their work in exile.  A group of De la Salle brothers arrived in Guernsey and acquired Les Vauxbelets. They went on to develop the estate building a large wooden hut, a stone building and a farm.

The Chapel:

The Little Chapel was substantially the work of one man, Brother Deodat Antoine who arrived in Guernsey in December 1913. When he saw the wooded slope, he perceived the idea of building a grotto similar to that in Lourdes.  The current chapel is the third one that he built.

He built the first one soon after he arrived in Guernsey in 1913. It was very small and after receiving some caustic criticism he pulled it down.

The second chapel was built during the First World War and could accommodate 4 people. In 1923, it was visited by the Bishop of Portsmouth. He was so fat he could not get through the door so Brother Deodat decided to destroy this chapel as well.

He began work on the third chapel, a laborious task. Each day he would collect pebbles and broken china to decorate the shrine.

The Little Chapel became famous due to an illustrated article in the Daily Mirror. Islanders brought china, the then Lieutenant Governor donated mother of pearl and gifts arrived from all over the World.

The current Chapel was almost complete when the Second World War broke out. Brother Deodat returned to France in 1939 due to ill health.  He died there without ever having seen his work completed.

The care of The Little Chapel was entrusted to Brother Cephas who continued to decorate the building until his retirement in 1965.

The building lacked proper maintenance for many years.  In 1977, a Committee was set up to restore the Chapel. It is recorded that they stabilised the foundations and renovated the roof.

The Little Chapel was then placed under the care of Blanchelande College Trustees.  Under terms of their lease, they were responsible for the upkeep and maintenance of the chapel.

In August 2016, The Little Chapel Foundation was established and the site was gifted to the Charity by the De la Salle Brothers.