For 80 years, the Chapel on the Rock at Camp St. Malo has endured against all odds, surviving both fire and flood to remain perched atop its sacred rock just outside of Rocky Mountain National Park near Allenspark, Colorado. With the majestic Mount Meeker as its backdrop, the Chapel on the Rock is renowned for its elaborate stone work and dramatic setting which makes it one of the most unique chapels both in the state and beyond.
In 1916, Monsignor Joseph Bosetti was on a quest to locate the impact site from a falling star, when he happened upon a large rock formation on the outskirts of the Rocky Mountains. Bosetti was immediately reminded of the scripture Matthew 16:18, which reads: "Upon this rock I'll build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”
Bosetti was very moved and envisioned a church rising from this magnificent rock. In 1936, his dream became a reality upon the completion of the St. Catherine of Siena Chapel, affectionately known as the Chapel on the Rock, designed by Denver architect Jacques Benedict.
The land on which the chapel stands was generously donated by Mr. and Mrs. Oscar Malo to the Archdiocese of Denver and served as a youth camp until the late 1980s. It evolved and expanded to become the St. Malo Religious Retreat and Conference Center in 1987.
Today visitors continue to flock to this spectacular chapel, which seems to grow effortlessly from the bedrock, reaching ever heavenward.
Although the view of the structure from a distance is remarkably stunning, a closer examination reveals intricate stone work that is awe-inspiring all on its own.
While the exterior is particularly striking, the interior is just as magnificent and contains impressive statues lovingly carved in Bolzano, Italy, at the Giacomo-Mussner studios.
In 1993, Pope St. John Paul II prayed and blessed the Chapel of the Rock on his visit to Colorado for World Youth Day. The Pope hiked along the trails at Camp St. Malo, which was later named the John Paul II Trail in his honor.
The Chapel also contains beautiful stained glass designed and manufactured by Franz Mayer & Co. based in Munich, Germany.
Sadly, in 2011 the 60,000-square-foot conference center behind the church was burned to the ground in a devastating fire; however, the Chapel of the Rock remained unscathed. Another disaster struck in 2013, when 100-year rains produced flooding and a five-mile-long landslide that began atop Mount Meeker and ended at the foot of the chapel.
The surrounding landscape including the historic Pope John Paul II Trail was destroyed, but the chapel was once again miraculously spared and continues to stand proud and tall as a beacon beckoning passersby.
The Archdiocese of Denver has plans to restore Camp St. Malo to its former glory, but they could use your help. Please
donate to the cause
if you feel inclined to help preserve the rich heritage and history of this sacred site.
"Upon this rock I'll build my church...”