Located in Huntington, Indiana, Victory Noll is the motherhouse of Our Lady of Victory Missionary Sisters, a religious community of women dedicated to serving the poor in the name of Christ.
Under the title "Our Lady of Victory," Mary is the congregation's patroness. Archbishop John Francis Noll, founding editor of Our Sunday Visitor in Huntington, a beloved friend and benefactor, provided much of the land and much of the needed funding. The community was founded in 1922 by Father John Joseph Sigstein, a Chicago priest. The first members began their missionary service in New Mexico, and soon their service spread to the southwestern states. For this reason, Spanish Mission-style was chosen for the buildings at Victory Noll. Through the collaboration of Archbishop Noll and a sizable donation by Julia and Peter O'Donnell, a retired policeman from Chicago, plans were made and ground broken in September, 1923 for the first building at Victory Noll. The main building was dedicated by Archbishop Noll on July 4, 1925. From this central house Our Lady of Victory Missionary Sisters minister in mission centers in the United States. Victory Noll was added to the National Register of Historic Places by the U.S. Department of the Interior.
This is the original building and contains offices, bedrooms and a beautiful chapel in the center.Our Lady of Victory Chapel served the Victory Noll Community from December 8, 1924, when the first Mass was celebrated by Father Sigstein until the late 1950s. In 1958, ground was broken for the Archbishop Noll Memorial Chapel. It was formally dedicated May 25, 1961.
Bishop Noll personally provided funds for the furnishings of Our Lady of Victory Chapel although he left the details to Father Sigstein. In keeping with the Spanish architecture of the Motherhouse, the chapel was modeled after the mission churches in the Southwest. It is characterized by vigas (Spanish for beams) across the ceiling. Like typical mission churches in New Mexico, the walls were left bare. Twice since, in the 1930s and again in the 1960s, the walls were painted. The Chicago-based Deprato Company designed the chapel according to Father Sigstein's specifications.The statue of Our Lady of Victory, patroness of the community, is a modernized version of the statue at the famous shrine of Our Lady of Victory in Paris. On the opposite side is a statue of St. Joseph holding the Child Jesus. A statue of the Sacred Heart is high above the main altar.
The stained glass windows are from Munich. Monsignor John Oechtering, a priest from Germany and pastor of St. Mary’s Church in Fort Wayne at the time, suggested this special firm in his homeland. Father Sigstein chose saints especially devoted to the Mother of God and those who were known as outstanding preachers and missionaries.
On the left (west) side, near the altar of Our Lady of Victory, the saints portrayed are:
St. Boniface, patron of Germany.St. Francis Xavier, Jesuit missionary to India and patron of the Society for the Propagation of the Faith.
St. Therese of Lisieux, Carmelite who offered her prayers and sufferings for missionaries and who is co-patron of the Society for the Propagation of the Faith.
The next window depicts a Victory Noll Sister in the original habit. Marie Hughes, an artist from St. Louis, furnished the St. Paul the Apostle is recognized with the sword with which he suffered martyrdom.
St. Cecilia, an early-century martyr, known as the patron of music, is pictured with a musical instrument
On the right (east) side are:
St. Patrick, patron of Ireland.
St. Francis of Assisi.
St. Clare of Assisi who founded what is known today as the community of Poor Clares.
St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, a Visitation nun in France in the 17th century, is pictured in the white veil of a novice.
The next window represents a missionary to Native Americans.
St. Vincent de Paul was a favorite saint of Father Sigstein who, like Vincent, was devoted to serving the poor.
The saints pictured in the circles high above the windows were added in the 1930s.
On the left (west) side are:
St. Louis de Montfort who propagated devotion to Mary, the Mother of God. Unlike the others, Louis has no halo; his image was painted before his canonization took place.
St. Alphonsus de Liguori wrote and preached on devotion to Mary. He is known also as an indefatigable missionary.
St. Cyril of Jerusalem is a doctor of the Church, noted for his catechetical writings.
On the right (east) side are: St. Francis de Sales, doctor of the Church.
St. Augustine whose writings are well-known.
St. Bernard of Clairvaux, Cistercian, also a devotee of Mary and doctor of the Church.
High above—near the ceiling—are symbols of the Litany of Loretto. The words of this litany are on the walls at the entrance to the chapel. The Blessed Sacrament is reserved in Our Lady of Victory Chapel. Occasionally small groups come to Victory Noll for a day of recollection. Mass is then offered here.
St. Joseph/Sacred Heart Buildings
St. Joseph building and a sizable garage were added in 1936-37 north of the original building and contains residences for the sisters as well as some work rooms.A third building, Sacred Heart, was added to the west in 1948-49. This was a barracks from Baer Field obtained by Archbishop Noll, a post-war assets building. It houses the Victory Noll Center (1st floor) and sisters’ residences (2nd and 3rd floors).
Holy Family Building
Holy Family Building, located north of the drive, was erected in 1960 to provide a facility for aged and ill Sisters. A new kitchen and dining room were added in 1998. In 2006, a new entrance and two lounges were added on 2nd and 3rd floors.
Archbishop Noll Memorial Chapel
This chapel, whose structure was unique and futuristic in design, was also constructed in 1960 and renovated in 1994. Designers William Schickel and Martha Schickel Dorff of the Schickel Company (Loveland, Ohio) and architect Edward J. Welling, Grinsfelder Associates, Architects Inc. and contractors Alan and Rex Darley of D and C Construction Co. Inc., respected and enhanced its best features while responding to the desire for a center of worship that was more welcoming yet intimate and focused, creating a strong sense of the sacred.
The outdoor plaza and bell tower serve the call to prayer and the gathering together of God’s people. It is reminiscent of the bells and towers of mission churches of the Southwest. Symbols around of the tower are a visual reminder of the Church’s praise of God at sunrise, mid-day and eventide. From the plaza we are drawn into a welcoming oasis of hospitality: water, a garden of plants and a metal sculpture of the Mother of God. Designer/artist William Schickel has depicted Our Lady of Victory as the “woman” of the 12th chapter of the Book of Revelations.From the gathering area one can enter the intimate Eucharistic Chapel for private prayer or follow the quarry tile pathway into the worship area. The Stations of the Cross are simple wooden crosses inserted into the fourteen tiles along the path, allowing us to walk the Via Dolorosa with the suffering Christ.
The two double doors below the balcony provide access to the gallery. Hung in this gracious space are the art pieces that, in season, become part of the sanctuary icon. A place of honor is reserved in the gallery for the shrine of Mary and Joseph. These beautifully carved statues of Carrara marble have been part of the Memorial Chapel since 1960 and continue to provide a place of prayer and inspiration. The necrology of our beloved Sisters is also hung in the gallery and serves as both a memorial to these valiant women and a reminder to pray for them.
The smaller building halfway up the drive is the newest structure. This building has served as a rectory, a House of Prayer and a residence for the Sisters.
Victory Noll Grounds
Other striking features on the grounds of this spiritual retreat are the Stations of the Cross in a ravine east of OLV building, the large statue of Jesus visible from West Park Drive, the pond visible from the new dining room in Holy Family Building, and the labyrinth, near Sacred Heart Building, a sacred path of prayer. The community’s cemetery is located south of the drive beyond the back parking lot. Archbishop Noll and Father Sigstein are both buried there. As you walk toward the cemetery past the garage, visit our Miami Memorial Peace Garden, marked by the Miami Memorial Peace Pole. This pole was carved from a large blue spruce by Sr. Mary Joan Ginsterblum and dedicated in honor of the Miami Indians on October 29, 1989. Victory Noll has been proclaimed a Backyard Wildlife Habitat by the National Wildlife Federation.