Services have been held inside Bethlehem Chapel daily since it opened in 1912. Buried behind the altar is Bishop Henry Yates Satterlee, the first Episcopal bishop of Washington and a major force in the Cathedral’s construction.
Beneath the altar is the Cathedral’s foundation stone, which contains a piece of rock from a field near Bethlehem. It was set on Sept. 29, 1907 in a ceremony attended by President Theodore Roosevelt. It is etched with the words: “The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us.”
The intimate chapel reflects a late-19th perception of Gothic architecture. The center panel of the limestone altar depicts the birth of Jesus and was carved from a single block of stone. Behind the altar, stained glass windows tell the story of the Nativity in stunning detail using the 15th-century English style. Needlepoint kneelers bear symbols of the Christmas story, including stars, mangers, camels, magi, shepherds and angels.
The chapel also contains the tomb of Admiral George Dewey, hero of the Spanish-American War and later a member of the Cathedral Chapter.