The Right Reverend William Lawrence, retired Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts, realized the need for a chapel at Massachusetts General Hospital in the late 1930s as the White Building was under construction. Convinced of the importance of faith and spirit in healing, he sent over 1500 hand-written letters to friends of the hospital in March 1939, asking for support "in this bit of pioneer hospital work." Over 800 people of all faiths responded. The result of their generosity and Bishop Lawrence's guidance was the gothic revival chapel originally located in the Baker Building, now on the first floor of the Ellison Building.

Bishop Lawrence envisioned that the chapel would be a "living thing," a place of meditation set apart from the hustle and bustle of the hospital, where all are welcome. "The simple fact that it, with its beauty, its traditions, its suggestion of mystery and spiritual presence, is in the center of a great hospital for the healing of bodies, creates an atmosphere throughout the wards, and all who pass by the doors feel it and carry its silent message."

The Mass General Chapel doors were first opened to the hospital community on April 25, 1941. From that date to the present, the chapel has been open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It continues to provide "a help to healing of body and spirit" in the Mass General community.