Windows

The Windows of St. Vincents

The text descriptions of the windows of St. Vincents is by Dr. Mario D. Mazzarella as a tribute to the 175 Anniversary of the Catholic Diocese of Richmond, 24 September 1995

The Annunciation

Annunciation
As one enters the church, the first large window on the left depicts the annunciation to the Virgin Mary,
as related in the Gospel of Luke, that she is to become the Mother of Jesus. She looks up at an angel with
face, hands and posture indicating submission to the will of God. Mary is depicted in her traditional
clothing; a blue robe (with embroidery at the edge) over a white undergarment. Blue is the color of the sky
and it, and the five stars in her halo (a possible reference to the 5 Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary) may be
inspired by the attribution to her in the liturgy of the words of the Book of Revelations. The white garment
nearest her body probably refers to her spiritual virtue and bodily virginity, qualities which are symbolized
by lilies, three (for Faith, Hope, and Charity) in the medallion a the top of the window and in the hands of the angle. Lilies are also found in the vase at the bottom left of the picture. Some of them are buds, probably referring to the Child Jesus, who is to be born. There are also roses in the vase, another flower traditional to the Virgin, whose red color and thorns signify the suffering which she was to undergo in her role as Mother of God. Mary has been praying the Scriptures and is kneeling at a praying bench known as a “prie dieu” (French for “pray [to] God”). The artist has thoughtfully provided her with a pretty red cushion, which protrudes out from beneath her garments.

In order for there to be an annunciation there has to be an announcer and that’s the angel Gabriel. He has
three stars in his halo (symbolizing the Trinity for whom he works) and is arrayed in a lovely brown robe.
To his right and slightly higher, the Holy Spirit is represented by a dove with a radiant halo, surrounded
by a stylized cloud and with the rays of Divine Grace emanating from Him to the Virgin, conceiving within her
the Savior. Below the picture, a medallion portrays a stylized “A” and “R” for Ave Regina (Hail! Queen of Heaven)
The letters are separated by what appears to be a column, or it may be a stylized staff entwined by serpents,
the one set up by Moses in the Desert to cure the Children of Israel. John’s Gospel has Jesus paralleling this
lifting up of the serpent to his own lifting up on the Cross, healing us from our sins, and that may be why it’s here.

The Visitation

Visitation
The next window depicts the visit which Mary, expecting her child, paid to her cousin Elizabeth (Lk. 1:1-20).
The medallion at the top of the window depicts an incense burner with smoke arising from it. Incense is a symbol
of royalty, before whom it was burnt as a sign of respect and reverence. For that reason, it was included among
the gifts the Magi brought to the Christ Child.

The main section of the window shows Mary, dressed in blue, but with embroidery different from the Annunciation
window (her traveling cloak?). The toe of a red shoe peeks out from the hem of the garment, duplicating the
effect of the red cushion in the former window and, with the color of the sky to the upper left, again displaying
the three primary colors. The moment captured is that when she and her cousin first meet. She is clasping the
proffered hand of Elizabeth who, dressed in a lovely black and tan robe, kneels before Mary in the attitude
expressed by her words: “Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And why is this
granted me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” (Lk. 1:42-43) As Elizabeth is pregnant with John the
Baptist, it also shows John’s subordination to the Messiah whose coming he will announce. Elizabeth is clearly
well-advanced in age, as is her husband Zechariah, shown just exiting the door to greet Mary, wearing a purple
garment (Advent colors), his hand raised in a gesture which is at once a greeting and a blessing, fitting since
he is a priest. (The story of this elderly couple’s miraculous-though human-conception of John is told in
Lk. 1:5-25).

The treatment of the evening sky seen behind stylized trees and buildings is especially beautiful here. The earth
on which Elizabeth kneels is unusually dark, perhaps because it is supposed to be late in the day, and is broken
by only a few plants. Below the main composition, is a Rose of Sharon, another flower used to symbolize the
Virgin as a glory of Israel. At the center of the flower is the letter “M”, the first initial of she whose
“…soul magnifies the Lord….” (Lk.l:46).

The Nativity

The Nativity
The window depicting the birth of the Lord begins at the top with a medallion which calls to mind the words of
the Prophet Isaiah: “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good tidings…who publishes
salvation, who says to Zion, “Your God reigns!” (52:7).

At the center of the composition is the Christ Child, with a very bright face, a cross visible in His halo,
dressed in white and sitting in a wooden manger. Mary sits to His left, holding Him. It’s interesting that
her robe now has no embroidery: the artist is making sure that nothing distracts us from Jesus who is, quite
properly, the center of attention. St. Joseph stands behind them, calm and protective, in a russet garment.
Three shepherds gaze in adoration at their King, a young boy playing a bagpipe, an old man with a beard, and
a middle age man who has doffed his cap. On the floor of the stable rests a shepherd’s staff (which calls to
mind both the 23rd Psalm and Christ as the Good Shepherd), while a single sheep looks up at Mary and the Child.

The dark sky at the top left, with shadowy shapes and trees and a lit candle to the bottom right, indicate that
it is indeed night, recalling to mind the words of the old Christmas liturgy, that while all the world lay in
slumber, the Word of the Lord leapt down from heaven. Finally, two candles are shown in the medallion below
the picture. These may symbolize the Old and the New Covenants or the dual nature of Christ as God and man or
(less likely because it would seem to make them equivalent in dignity,) Mary and Jesus.

Jesus in the Temple

Jesus in the Temple
The second window from the front of the Mary shrine illustrates “Jesus among the Doctors” or (in the language of
the Fifth Joyful Mystery of the Rosary), “The Finding of the Child Jesus in the Temple.”

This window illustrates the events reported in the Gospel of St. Luke 2: 41-52. Jesus, together with his parents,
has gone up to the Temple at Jerusalem for their annual visit at Passover time (a pilgrimage undertaken to fulfill
the requirements of Deuteronomy 16:16). It must have been quite a large family gathering, because Mary and
Joseph are reported to have left the city and travel led all day before realizing that Jesus wasn’t with some
other relatives and friends. They immediately hurry back to Jerusalem where, after looking all over town for
three days (here Luke may be symbolizing the burial of Jesus’s body for three days in the tomb, followed by
“finding” Him alive) they discover their son in the Temple, “sitting among the doctors of the law, listening to
them and asking them questions.” (vs. 46)

The window depicts the scene at the moment of Mary and Joseph’s discovery of their son. Jesus is portrayed
dressed in a white undergarment covered by a light blue robe. Rays in the form of the fleur-de-lis (a stylized
lily symbolizing purity and, with its bud and two leaves, perhaps the Trinity) are found in his halo (which may
be contrasted with the crosses found in His halos in two windows on the other side of the Church). A red sash
(the color of blood, commonly signifying martyrdom) is around His waist. His left hand shows fingers extended
as if He is making a point, while His right is lifted upward, pointing to heaven. One foot extends out from
beneath His robe, naked to indicate His earthly poverty. His facial expression, posture and gestures all convey
an air of authority.

Jesus is surrounded by the Doctors who make an interesting group. Their attention to Jesus clearly indicates
they are “astounded at his intelligence and his replies.” (vs. 47) They represent all ages, from the man pictured
to Jesus’ left, his face deeply lined with his years, a white band tied around his bald head, to the young scribe
sitting on the floor in the lower left of the picture. The scribe is wearing a blue hat and a green tallit (the
prayer shawl Jews still wear during their devotions) decorated with gold tassels. All economic classes are
represented. The poverty indicated by the plain robe and bare feet of the scribe contrast with the richer attire
of other figures such as the man seen just above him, wearing a red hat, sandals, and a purple and brown robe
with an embroidered hem.

The artist has devoted much loving attention to the figure of the teacher in the lower right of the window.
He wears a rich red robe with a gold zig-zag decoration along the hem, a green tallit embroidered with a
checkered border and blue tassels, and very nice sandals. He holds a paper with some Hebrew letters on it, which
he is attentively reading. He has a finely chiseled face with a noble aquiline nose and his eyes are wide open
and fixed upon the page, as if he were checking a reference being made by Christ.

At the top of the picture the ten commandments are enshrined in a place of honor within a little alcove separated
from the rest of the building by a rail. This may very well be modeled on the architecture of a synagogue rather
than the Second Temple whose central focus would have been a reproduction of the Ark of the Covenant, though
empty since the original Ark, together with the tablets of Moses disappeared after the Babylonian Captivity.
Since this is strictly an indoor scene, it is the only window where the artist has not been able to depict one
of his lovely sky scenes.

Last, but hardly least, Mary and Joseph are depicted in the top left of the picture in the act of just entering
the temple. She wears a blue robe over her head as if she has just been traveling. St. Joseph wears his
traditional russet robe and is carrying a walking staff. They look weary, which is just what one would expect
considering they’ve been searching for their son for three days. Parents of adolescents will recognize those
looks, Mary’s reprimand: “See how worried your father and 1 have been…”; the sharpness with which Jesus replies
to her: “Why were you looking for me?…Did you not know I must be busy with my Father’s affairs?”; and the
resulting bafflement of his parents.

The medallion at the top of the window shows the scriptures on a lectern surmounted by the cross which, for
Christians, is their fulfillment. The medallion below depicts the earth (with lines of latitude shown) topped
by the cross and with rays of saving grace passing through it. Two circles, one depicting clouds, the other the
winds, surround the globe.

Color is used to create several visual axes: the blue of the scribe’s hat and that of the figure to the upper
right; the red in the robe of the man in the lower right, Jesus’ sash and the hat of the man to Christ’s right;
the dark green tallit of the standing figure and the blue of Mary’s robe; the purple in the figures to Jesus’
right and left and the tan of the robe to his right and upper left. These all have the figure of Jesus as their
visual center and serve to draw our eyes to Him.

In this window there may be a word for those of us who are parents. Christ was a good son who, after this
episode, left with his parents for Nazareth and “lived under their authority.” (vs. 51). However, it may be
something of a comfort to reflect that even the members of the Holy Family had their misunderstandings and
things weren’t always sweetness and light. Still, as we know, He turned out great, and we can believe that our
children will, too. This might be a good window before which to pray for our “holy families”.

(I am indebted to Rabbi Norman Golmer, Rabbi Sylvia Scholnick and Professor Devorah Weisberg for their gracious
help in interpreting this window).

The Baptism of our Lord

Baptism of our Lord
The window closest to the Mary Altar depicts the Baptism of Jesus.

Here the artist departs from Luke’s gospel (with its very brief treatment) and incorporates details found in
Matthew 3, Mark 1 and John 1.

The medallion at the top shows the hand of God, in a gesture of blessing, with rays of grace beaming down.

John the Baptist [i.e.: the Baptizer] is clothed in the camel hair garment (the texture is well depicted) and
leather belt reported in Mark and Matthew, covered with a purple robe with a violet lining (royal colors for
the Romans and others, appropriate for the one whom Jesus calls the greatest of all the prophets
[Matthew 11: 7-15]). John stands on a rock. His left hand holds a staff surmounted by a cross and with a
scroll winding along it bearing John’s words “Ecce agnus dei” (“Behold the Lamb of God… [that takes away the
sins of the world.”] John 1:29), words which have become part of the liturgy. John’s right hand grasps a
scallop shell, the traditional symbol of baptism, which he uses to pour water on Christ’s head. This is most
likely an anachronism; ancient baptisms were performed (as some modern ones are) by immersion. By having a
person submerged in and then raised from the water, one’s physical death and resurrection to eternal life as
well as one’s death to sin and rising to new life in Christ are graphically illustrated and symbolized
(see Romans 6: 1-11).

Christ is robed in a beautiful white garment. There is a nice contrast between the royal crowns which appear
in his halo and the lowered head, closed eyes and hands crossed over His breast, gestures demonstrating His
humility and submission to both the will of His Father and the work of John. He stands ankle-deep in the water
of the Jordan, and the artist has beautifully depicted His immersed feet (a striking and very unusual effect).
Above Him, resting on a cloud, is the figure of the Father, with a triangular halo (symbolic of the Trinity),
the traditional long white beard (an Eastern symbol of wisdom), a robe of imperial purple gathered by a gold
clasp, with brilliant rays lighting Him in glory. His left hand holds the orb surmounted by the cross,
symbolic of God’s dominion over all the earth (and by extension, the universe), while His right is raised in
a gesture of blessing of the scene below. Below the Father’s head is the dove of the Holy Spirit, a halo
around His head and with a sun-like orb as a background. With the figure of Christ below, the three figures
illustrate the Trinity. Matthew describes the moment: “…and suddenly, the heavens opened and he saw the
Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming down on him. And a voice spoke from heaven, ‘This is my Son,
the Beloved; my favor rests on him.'” (3:16-17)

The sky is beautifully shaded from dark above to light blue on the horizon. Clouds scatter across the sky.
A hill to the left stands behind two tall palm trees. Lush vegetation fed by the Jordan (which flows through
the desert) fills the area behind Christ and John, including three cattails to the left and three water lilies
to the right (Trinitarian references abound in this window). A water lily floats at Christ’s side, a
traditional eastern (including far-eastern) symbol of purity and serenity as it rests atop, but is not affected
by, the flood. A pink and red bloom to John’s side may be a reference to the deaths by martyrdom of both men.

The medallion at the bottom shows a baptismal font, with the dove of the Holy Spirit perched on its edge.
This is a reminder to us that at our baptism we were baptized, not in water alone but, through Christ, “with
the Holy Spirit and fire,” (Matthew 3:11). As Christ’s baptism inaugurated His mission to the world, so we are
called upon to let the Holy Spirit fan the flames (pneuma in Greek means both “wind” and “spirit”) of God’s
love in our hearts so that, aflame with that love, we may fulfill our mission to bring His love to the world
by our words and our deeds in the service of our brothers and sisters.

St. Vincent De Paul

St. Vincent
The first window on the right near the side door depicts the patron saint of our parish and the Diocese of
Richmond, St. Vincent de Paul (1581-1660). The third of six children of a peasant family, he must have showed
some talent because he entered the priesthood and obtained a B.A. in theology. Vincent lived during and in the
aftermath of the civil war between Catholics and Protestants in France. Religious violence breeds cynicism and
indifference and the Church was in a bad way. Vincent began by reflecting this atmosphere; for the first eight
years after his ordination, he spent his time exploiting his position for his own benefit. Then he underwent a
seven-year spiritual crisis from which he emerged completely transformed into a devoted seeker of God. His
particular vocation: to serve the physical and spiritual needs of the poor.

Assigned as chaplain to the eminent Gondis family, he immediately extended his ministry to the many peasants on
their vast estates. After 1619 he became chaplain of the galley fleet where he worked to alleviate the lot of
the galley slaves. After 1625, the Vincentian Fathers (Congregation of the Mission) were organized to minister
to the rural poor and to operate seminaries. About this time Vincent began to attack the heresy known as
Jansenism, a kind of Catholic puritanism which holds that God only really wants to save some, and not all, of us
and which denies the intrinsic goodness of God’s natural creation including our bodies. Vincent’s efforts were
a prime cause of its defeat (though some of its bad effects continue to linger in some corners of the Church).

Vincent found his greatest collaborator in St. Louise de Marillac (1591-1660). Widowed in 1625, she became a
supporter of Vincent’s work and in 1633, they founded the Daughters of Charity whose “convent is the sick-room,
their chapel the parish church, their convent the city streets.” Intelligent and diligent, though not physically
strong, her tireless labors resulted in over forty houses being established in France where the poor sick were
tended, abandoned and orphaned children were cared for, and shelter was provided for hundreds of women.

Louise’s death in 1660 deeply saddened Vincent and he passed away later that same year. By that time members of
the foundations which they had established could be found not only all over France but spread from Poland to
Madagascar; today, they are found throughout the world.

Our window shows St. Vincent, dressed as the ordinary priest that he was, tenderly holding an abandoned baby
while he presents an older orphan to Louise. She opens her arms to receive him while he extends his to embrace
her. The architecture and the setting suggest rural France. The color of the leaves on the tree, the barren
ground and the bare bush between Vincent and Louise indicate that it is autumn (the season of harvest. Could
the artist have been thinking of Christ’s words: “The harvest is rich but the laborers are few, so ask the
Lord of the harvest to send laborers to his harvest.” [Luke 10: 2]). As usual, the color of the sky is
beautifully depicted and a few clouds drift by.

The medallion at the top shows a scoop and a shepherd’s staff, the first indicating Vincent’s care for people’s
earthly needs, the second the care of their souls. This is not only a good indicator of the kind of ministry
which we conduct in our parish, but is a welcome corrective to those who think religion should restrict itself
to serving the soul only and not the body (Jansenism again). This view is as unsacramental as it is unlike Christ
who fed the hungry crowds and healed the sick. And the scoop comes first. It is difficult to preach the gospel
to those who are hungry; the growling of their stomaches tends to drown out the preacher’s voice.

The window presents an interesting problem of dating. It is dedicated to St. Vincent pastor Fr. D. F. Coleman
who died in 1932. Louise was canonized in 1934, but she has no halo in our picture. Therefore, the window had
to be created between those two dates.

After reading about the prodigious labors of St. Vincent it comes as something of a shock to learn that he was
a man of quite ordinary intelligence and quite ordinary talents. But by opening himself to the abundant graces
which God offers to us all (and which we often tap into too little) he extracted the most extraordinary results
from quite ordinary abilities. The motivating force of this amazing man’s life is summed up in the quote from St.
Paul which appears in Latin on the scroll in the medallion at the bottom of the window: “Caritas Christi urget
nos”–“The love of Christ impels us.” (2 Cor. 5:14)

St. Margaret Mary Alacoque

St. Margaret
If St. Vincent is an exemplar of the via activa (achieving sanctity by a life of action), St. Margaret Mary
(and St. Theresa of Lisieux, the subject of our next window) exemplify the via contemplate (the life of
contemplation and prayer).

Margaret Mary was a contemporary (1647-1690) of St. Vincent De Paul, but not directly associated with his work.
After a sickly and unhappy youth, she joined the Visitation order. Pledged “not to be extraordinary except by
being ordinary”, she was an exemplary nun, humble, simple, frank, kind and patient, if somewhat slow, clumsy and
a bit humorless. Between 1675 and 1677, she experienced apparitions of Christ who exhorted her to spread devotion
to His sacred heart, “which has so loved humanity that it has spared nothing.” The thrust of the revelations was
that God loves all of His people, not only some (once again we see the battle against Jansenism) and called them
to repentance.

Margaret Mary’s revelations were first greeted with much skepticism and she suffered not a little from the
disapproval of other members of her community. But her burning ardor for God and her simple virtues eventually
won over those antagonistic to her. Made mistress of novices, even veteran nuns attended her instructional
conferences.

The top medallion of our window shows the traditional representation of the Sacred Heart, surmounted by a cross
rising from flames of love. The heart is bound by a crown of thorns and issues forth a drop of blood. Rays of
glory beam forth indicating that Christ’s glory, as well as that of those who follow Him, lies in His cross and
His suffering.

Margaret Mary’s convent is depicted as a Romanesque building (an architecture especially suited to contemplation). The purple curtain hanging from a brass rod probably symbolizes the cloistered nature of her life. She is dressed in the habit of the Visitation order, the folds of cloth expertly depicted, her arms open in a gesture of acceptance, with beautifully rendered hands and a lovely face with alert, wide-open eyes gazing at an apparition of Christ.

Above and behind Jesus, rays of glory pour forth from clouds. As usual, and unique to Him, his halo contains a
cross (with Trinitarian trefoils in the arms). He gazes at Margaret Mary with the half-lidded eyes and mild
expression of face and hands so favored by 19th century pious representations but now considered lacking in
vitality. Jesus’ left hand, showing a nail print, indicates His glowing sacred heart (duplicating that in the
top medallion) while his right hand blesses Margaret Mary. He wears a lovely embroidered red robe with violet
lining and a gold-embroidered white undergarment. His feet, with a nail print obvious in the right one, rest on
a cloud. His figure floats above an open copy of the Scriptures as the one Christians see as spoken of by the
prophets and the evangelists. The bush behind Margaret Mary, and the low wood and stone wall behind Christ
provide a lovely garden setting for the scene. Finally, the medallion below depicts the three nails of the
crucifixion surrounded by the crown of thorns woven into a Star of David, recalling Jesus’ title of “Son of David.”

The symbols of Christ’s passion throughout are to illustrate the utter extravagance with which God loves us all
and how He has spared nothing so that we might be happy. Seeing that, how can we do other than join in the
deathbed prayer of Margaret Mary: “I need nothing but God and to lose myself in the heart of Jesus.”

St. Theresa of Lisieux

St. Theresa
Born 1873 into a deeply religious family (she and four of her sisters became nuns) Theresa was a bright child if
one with a tendency to be overly sensitive and scrupulous. But on Christmas Day in 1886 she underwent an instant
change. As one of her sisters remarked in amazement, “…her soul could be seen to grow in zeal and charity.”
Theresa began to feel her particular vocation to be to serve God and His people and to suffer.

By persistent petitioning (she even broke the protocol of a general papal audience by asking the Pope to
intervene!) she received a special dispensation which allowed her to enter a Carmelite convent at age 15. Her
delicate health forbade extraordinary sacrifices, so she devoted herself to doing ordinary things in an
extraordinary way and everything for the love of God. She described this “little way” (as she called it) as
“the way of spiritual childhood, the way of trust and absolute self-surrender”. To the daily round of prayer
and work common to all those in religious life (and the burden of an uncommonly difficult superior), she added
the struggle against a tendency to obstinacy and moodiness and a discipline of little penances: not brushing
off a fly (St. Ignatius of Loyola did the same); not scratching an itch; going without blankets in winter, all
designed to atone for sins and to rise to virtue. Made acting mistress of novices in 1883, she began to teach
them the “little way.” Her hope to serve as a missionary in Indo-china fell through when she contracted
tuberculosis. She died in 1897 at age 24 amidst much suffering, her last words: “My God, I love you!”

Two years before her death she was asked to write a memoir of her childhood years. She did, adding an account
of her later life as a means of teaching others her “little way”. One of her sisters heavily edited this text
and it was published under the title of The Story of A Soul. Though the late Romantic style of its language is
now much out of fashion, it was an instant success at the time. Widely translated, it caused veneration for her
to spread rapidly. From far and wide reports poured in of miracles attributed to her intercession. In the face
of this “hurricane of glory” as Pope Pius XI called it, Rome waived the normal 50-year waiting period. Beatified
in 1923 she was declared a saint in 1925, one of the fastest canonization processes in history! A large basilica
was built at Lisieux to accommodate the flood of pilgrims that came to honor her. By the 1920s, Theresa Martin,
the “Little Flower,” had become the most popular saint of modern times.

The medallion at the top of her window depicts a bellwether sheep (with its customary bell) which leads the
flock, a symbol of Christ as the Lamb of God who leads us. On the right of the window the Virgin Mary is
depicted as Queen of Heaven, wearing a golden crown with stars in her halo. She lovingly holds the child Jesus
on her lap, trefoils in His halo, His face so bright that it seems to illuminate the entire composition. Three
cherubs (with red and green wings!) surround Mary and Jesus in a cloud of glory. Theresa is shown kneeling in
prayer, dressed in the robe of the Carmelite order. Unlike St. Margaret Mary’s experience, this is not an
apparition so Theresa is not shown looking at the heavenly figures. The Christ Child looks down at Theresa, His
right hand raised in blessing, His lap filled with roses which He showers down on her, recalling words she spoke
in her last months of life: “After my death I will let fall a shower of roses”. She has caught one in her left
hand while others fall about her. The motif is continued in the lower medallion with its blossoms colored in
symbolic hues of red (suffering), white (purity) and pink 0√ły)- A stylized representation of the basilica at
Lisieux appears at the lower right. The sky around the Church is shaded beautifully from light blue to red;
rising behind Theresa up to the top of the picture, it changes from violet to dark blue while the saint seems to
kneel on one of the clouds that float across the sky.

Pius XI said that Theresa had fulfilled her vocation and achieved sanctity, “without going beyond the common
order of things.” By her life, she showed that sainthood is achievable by anyone, no matter how humble, no matter
how ordinary, by simply performing the everyday duties of one’s life out of love for God. She, St. Vincent and
St. Margaret Mary are all examples of St. Paul’s statement that “…those whom the world thinks common and
contemptible are the ones that God has chosen-those who are nothing at all to show up those who are everything.”
(I Corinthians: 27-28). These three figures speak to us all as we go about our daily rounds in our offices,
in our factories and farms, in our classrooms, in our nurseries, among our tools, our computers, or our pots and
pans. In and through these ordinary tasks we can help to build the Kingdom of God by blessing our brothers and
sisters, doing all the good we can whenever we can, and by doing so, enter into our inheritance of eternal life.

The Windows of the Triduum

High on the walls of the nave of the church are the three lovely circular windows which depict the central drama
of our Catholic faith: the suffering, death and resurrection of Our Lord, Jesus Christ. For these scenes, the
artist has taken references from all four Gospels.

The Garden
The first window to the left illustrates Christ’s agony in the Garden of Gethsemane on the night of his arrest.
Heavenly light pours from a cloud onto His troubled face as, dressed in a robe of deep red over a white
undergarment, He kneels in prayer on rocky ground. Christ gazes up at an angel with stars in his robe. The
angel offers Him the cup of suffering (it resembles an old-fashioned chalice) which Christ has asked His Father
to spare Him but which He accepts in accordance with the will of the Father and for all our sakes.

To the left, a thorn bush is seen, foretelling the crown of thorns the Roman soldiers, in cruel mockery of His
kingship, would place upon His head. The greenery about the bush may indicate the life that would yet come from
this painful death. Cypresses (whose long life makes them a symbol of eternity) and other plants complete the
garden scene. Above distant hills, the night time sky, shaded from light to very dark blue (which contrasts
beautifully with the light from above) is spangled with multi-colored points of light indicating the stars, and
perhaps, the other planets.

Crucifiction
Appropriately in the center we see Christ crucified, God’s supreme act of love, the consequence of our sins, of
our failure to love, and the means by which God reconciles us to Himself and to each oilier. The body hangs
from the cross in the traditional posture, arms extended, head sunken, nails in the hands and feet, a white
loincloth about His waist, with the lance wound in His side. At the top is the traditional abbreviation of the
sign Pilate ordered affixed: INRI (lesus Naxirenos Rex ludeorum–Jesus the Nazarene; King of the Jews). A
stake anchors the cross in the earth while heavenly rays come down on Jesus. The cross, then, becomes our bridge
from this world to the next.

His mother, in her traditional blue robe, stands grief stricken to His right while Mary of Magdala kneels at
His feet bringing a white cloth around the cross (either preparatory to bringing down His body or to catch His
precious blood). St. John in a red robe (with Mary and Jesus we again have the primary colors) is at His left,
the only one looking at Him, perhaps reflecting on His commission to care for His mother (John 19:26).

Behind the scene we see Jerusalem and distant hills, the sky shaded from tan to purple to a deep red as darkness
covers the whole land (Luke attributes it to a solar eclipse 23:44). A deeply reddened sun appears below
Christ’s right hand and a darkened moon (with a crescent visible) below His left. (This depiction of the sun
and moon is traditional-see the painted backdrop to our large crucifix to the right of the Joseph altar.)
Facing this window, look up at the apse ceiling and you will see, directly in line with the center window, God
the Father and God the Holy Spirit. Thus, with the figure of the crucified Christ, we have another
representation of the Trinity similar to that in the window of Christ’s baptism.

The Resurrection
To the right we see the Resurrection, and with it, Christ’s victory–which is our victory–over sin and death.
He rises triumphant from an open tomb which lies before a cave-like opening behind it (the tomb is very stylized). Dressed in a red robe over a white garment (not strictly scriptural?Matthew 28:3 has Him in white), His right hand is raised to heaven while his left holds the traditional Christian banner signifying the victory of the cross and resurrection. To the left an angel kneels in adoration atop the cast-away stone cover. To the right, one guard has fallen to the ground covering his face (note the drape of his blue cape around his right arm) while another sentry holding a shield falls back in awe and terror at the sight (The scene generally follows Matthew). Above the hills, the sky is light blue shading to a smaller area of darker hue, indicating that it is morning. This is the only window which depicts the ground covered with vegetation which seems only fitting as all creation springs forth in the fullness of new life in the risen Lord.