Our beautiful chapel

In February 2022 the Senior School pays tribute to the late, renowned and loved Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu in a commemoration liturgy. He is no stranger to St Mary’s while Anglican bishop of Johannesburg and a member of the St Mary’s board, and the Desmond Tutu Natural Science Centre, opened in October 2003, is named in his honour.

In July 2022 at the SMOGS Service of Lament and Hope the school community gathers to offer God our thanks and praise, to ask for intercession and guidance, and to rejoice in the diversity of our community. Reflecting on the past, the present and the future are Duduzile Mtshazo (mother of Nomonde, the first black girl to attend St Mary’s, class of 1983), Julie Herold (from the class of 1992) and Zani Mashinini (from the class of 1996). The Old Girls present a 12 Lady Ceramic Bowl to the school, symbolic of friendship and ubuntu – the drawing together and warmth afforded by the protective, circular shape of the vessel (the school body), and the joy, friendship and experiences gathered within. The 12 represents, among other things, the 12 years of the school journey.

Ubuntu bowl

Though you slipped from our grasp, we have not let go

Gifted by the matric class of 1982 during the Old Girls’ service October 1 2022, in memory of those St Mary’s Old Girls no longer with us – Hands – installation by Debbie Farnaby

Within the circular embrace of family, friendship and community, two hands clasp, symbolizing not only the strength and support we derive from one another, but the transformative power of kindness and human connection.


In 2018, St Mary’s commissions a new set of unique Stations of the Cross, painted by South African artist, Joseph Capelle. To date, Capelle, a committed Christian, has created several sets of Stations of the Cross which are housed in various churches.

Capelle’s use of bright colours and abstract style are what drew us to his work. To the traditional set of 14 Stations, we asked that Capelle add a 15th Station, depicting Christ’s resurrection. We also asked Capelle to emphasise the role of women in his work, and to depict Christ and the people around Christ in such a manner that people from various backgrounds and cultures would be able to find themselves within the artworks.

During December 2018, our beautiful, new set of Stations of the Cross is installed inside the chapel, where they can be viewed, beginning at the bell pull next to the vestry door and ending with the last Station behind the piano next to the angel stained-glass window.

Our new and unique set forms the third set in our school. In the 1990s, then headmistress, Judith Brown, installed a set of prints of the Stations, identical to those found at St Mary’s, DSG, in Pretoria. These replaced a black and white set that had been in the chapel for many years. Both of these sets have been hung on the upper level of the Senior School original buildings, above the Senior School reception, between the Accounts offices and the Ross & Darragh classrooms.

- Revd Claudia Coustas, Chaplain, 2019

These paintings are intentionally two-dimensional. I like to think of them as modern-day icons. The surface area is very important to me so I use flat colours, textured areas, hard edges and lines. The cross in all these stations is suggested in an abstract manner.

These stations show not only the physical sufferings of Jesus but also His mental and psychological anguish, experienced during His passion. Faces and hands are the main form of expression and are frequently painted in unnatural colours, depending on the mood that I wish to create in the station. The colours I use are my own expression of emotion.

My hope is that the viewers will put their own interpretations to the stations and will be able to deepen their meditation. Some of the images will shock but I believe that this will lead to a deeper understanding of the redemptive suffering of Jesus.

- Joseph Capelle, 2019

Click here to download The Stations of the Cross in pdf version