St. Brendan Chapel in Biddeford Pool to Reopen on May 28

BIDDEFORD POOL---For the 107th year, St. Brendan Chapel, located on 40 Lester B. Orcutt Boulevard in Biddeford Pool, will open Memorial Day Weekend offering 9:30 a.m. Masses on Sunday and 9 a.m. Masses on Fridays. With a capacity for around 200 people and its beautiful location, the chapel is a popular site for residents, summer visitors, and those getting married, and remains open through Labor Day Weekend.

In the early 20th century, Fr. Timothy Linehan, pastor of St. Mary Parish in Biddeford, recognized that many of the new immigrants who worked in Biddeford Pool were faced with long horse and buggy rides into Biddeford to attend Masses.

“If you can’t bring the people to the church, you bring the church to the people,” Fr. Linehan noted at the time.

In 1914, financial support from Biddeford Pool residents and vacationers produced the necessary funds to purchase the land for the chapel from Emma Goldthwaite for $3,900. Today, many of the families who live in the chapel’s surrounding area have ancestors who contributed to the building of the chapel, regardless of religious affiliation. Timothy O’Connell, a prominent architect, was selected to design the chapel. Among O’Connell’s other work were the Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul in Lewiston, St. Joseph Convent in Portland, and St. Mary Church in Biddeford. The original blueprints for St. Brendan are still on display in the chapel. 

A biographer once wrote that O'Connell "was a person of sensitivity to those populations for which he designed buildings," and that was certainly the case at St. Brendan. While not as grand as the earlier projects, it is a perfect fit for the seaside community.

Contractor W.H. Tibbetts of Biddeford completed the chapel in 1916, and it remains much today as it did then. You'll find no stained-glass windows and few adornments. The only statues are a small one of the Blessed Mother and one of Saint Patrick. Still, the knotted pine, exposed beams, and maple pews create a sense of warmth and welcome.

St. Brendan Chapel is one of many summer missions that open around Maine on Memorial Day, including Our Lady of the Lakes Church, Oquossoc; Our Lady Star of the Sea Church, Long Island; St. Ann Church, Peter Dana Point; St. John the Evangelist Church, Pembroke; St. Joseph Church, Rockwood; St. Katharine Drexel Church, Harpswell; St. Mary Church, Oxford; St. Paul Church, Patten; and Star of the Sea Church, York Beach.