tTo St. Francis Chapel in the heart of Boston, the faithful come. Young and old. White and black. Healthy and infirm.
And this time of year, many come bearing gifts. Not gold or frankincense necessarily, but shopping bags stuffed with new purchases.
That’s because St. Francis is a storefront chapel in the Prudential Center mall, conveniently located in the busy retail mecca, next door to Dunkin’ Donuts. “I bought gift cards there for my staff yesterday,” said Rev. John Wykes, the chapel’s director.
The chapel is staffed by the Oblates of the Virgin Mary, a small Roman Catholic congregation of priests and brothers founded in 1826 by the Venerable Father Pio Bruno Lanteri and dedicated to a rebirth of spirituality. While a mall might seem like the last place to seek the sacred, St. Francis offers 32 Masses a week, “more than you’d find in most every church anywhere,” said Wykes, one of five priests who serve there throughout the week. He suggested being interviewed in the cramped confessional box, so as not to disturb those in prayer.
And confession, for many wayfarers in this material world, seems much in demand. Full story for BostonGlobe.com subscribers.
Linda Matchan can be reached at email@example.com.