The first point of interest is the pinkish tufa stone altar, designed in the style of Mexican baroque. Cut from a quarry near Wickenburg, this Arizona volcanic stone was carved by local sculptors. Effectively framed above the altar is a painting of the Holy Family. This is the work of a fine (although unknown) artist of the Italian school of Andrea Del Sarto in the 15th century. The central statue of the Sacred Heart is flanked by those of St. Ignatius Loyola, founder of the Society of Jesus, and his companion, St. Francis Xavier, patron of the Brophy school. The wood carved legs of the movable altar are the recent works of Taiwanese craftsmen, in duplication of the original ornate pedestals over the doors entering the sacristies.
The large, impressive crucifix on the right is an outstanding specimen of art by a wood carver of Rome. The sacristy to the left of the altar features an article of historic interest, a large wooden crucifix carved about 1670. It came from the Monk’s Cemetery at Evaux near Montfaucon in France, and was a survivor of the World War I battle of Verdun.
The abundant use of sea shells in the chapel – carved into the main altar and decorating the wall lights under the windows – is very common in Spanish colonial architecture. The tradition has its origin in the shells of St. James (Santiago de Compostela).
The heavy and intricately wrought iron chandeliers are of pure Spanish design but are the handiwork of a local blacksmith shop. Transverse structural I-beams, encased in wood, carry the weight of the ceiling; the length-wise beams are of solid pine. Small sections of the latter, recently found in the attic, provide an entrance to the Baptistry at the rear of the chapel. A small section of the original communion rail, removed after Vatican Council 11, stands at a side altar, dedicated to St. Ignatius.
The painting on the wall of the Baptistry, depicting the history and growth of Phoenix, is the work of Michael Tang, a Brophy student who became a member of the Jesuit Order. The coat of arms of the Society of Jesus over the southeast chapel exit, and the seal of the Society of Jesus over the back exit are a rather recent work of craftsmen in Taiwan. The statue of St. Francis Xavier in the vestibule was the work of a wood carver in Rome.
The structure of the chapel is made of brick and cement mixed on site. Its tower, 135 feet high, is perfectly proportioned, a desert landmark through the 1930’s. The fountain in the front patio was built and donated by the A. F. Wasielewski Company in memory of their founder. The original cast-iron statue of St. Francis Xavier over the fountain, was destroyed in a wind storm. The present cast-stone statue of the Sacred Heart was installed in 1966.
The laying of the cornerstone on April 29, 1928, brought together in Phoenix “probably the greatest assembly of Roman Catholic church dignitaries ever to gather in Arizona.” Also present were many leaders of the city, county, state, and federal governments.