Sinking Feeling

A memorial to a victim of a largely forgotten tragedy

emmanuelchurchPhoto: Susan Ogan

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mmanuel Church is justifiably famous for its music, incorporating as it does the cantatas of Johann Sebastian Bach into Sunday worship services. But look closely at the windows in the side chapel: The likeness of Leslie Lindsey is depicted as St. Cecilia, patron saint of music. The entire chapel was commissioned by her grieving parents after Lindsey, a gifted musician, died in the sinking, largely forgotten today, of the RMS Lusitania by a German U-boat on May 7, 1915, killing 1,198 and hastening the entry of the United States into World War I. She was on her honeymoon. Her parents, whose money came largely from selling ammunition belts to the military, bought the brownstone beside the church to make room for the chapel, which was built for the then-astronomical sum of $500,000. (As another memorial, the Lindseys purchased an English collection of 560 antique musical instruments and bequeathed it to the Museum of Fine Arts.) Lindsey’s father, who grew ill, sat on the sidewalk outside, worried that he wouldn’t live to see the chapel finished. He didn’t. He died in 1922, two years before the memorial to his daughter was consecrated. The sign may say the church is open only for Sunday services or by appointment, but ring the bell anyway and you will likely score a private tour. Herder

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Every figure depicted in the Leslie Lindsey Chapel is a female saint. The only man is Jesus Christ. All the figurines are carved of alabaster. Three that were stolen in the 1960s are in the process of being re-created and reinstalled.

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