Reprinted from the Inaugural Program Dedicating the Current Church Structure, 1955
There are no statues in our new church. The forty-foot high ceiling would dwarf any but the most heroic-sized statuary. All sacred imagery is incorporated in the walls of the church, chiefly in the windows of stained glass. These windows were designed by a young American artist, Milcho Silianoff, and executed by the Pittsburgh Stained Glass Studios. In the words of the artist, “These windows are intended to reflect the essence of Christianity, the eternal, universal truths as they were exemplified in the lives of these figures, who were veritable pillars of great spiritual strength. In a sense they are a protest against the pervading spirit of materialism today.”
The five windows in the sanctuary portray the complete Holy Family; Jesus, Mary and Joseph, and the parents of Our Lady, St. Joachim and St. Anne. The central figure is Our Savior, with the cross through the center of the panel as the focal point of Christianity. Our Blessed Mother is shown to His right, in a prayerful, humble attitude. The lilies symbolize her purity. St. Joseph, on Our Lord’s left, holds a carpenter’s square and a staff, which miraculously has bloomed with lilies at its end. St. Joachim holds the basket of doves which were used as a sacrifice in the temple. St. Anne is pictured teaching her privileged daughter, who was to become the Mother of God.
In the nave of the church, beginning on the right, we find St. Pius X, with his papal arms, and three of his famed writings: “Acerbe Nimis”, on the teaching of Christine Doctrine; “II Fermo Proposito”, on Catholic Action; and “Instaurare Omnia in Christo”- the aim of his pontificate was to restore all things to Christ. Next we find St. Peter, Prince of the Apostles. The two keys recall Christ’s commission to the Head of His Church. The inverted cross to his right is the symbol of Peter’s crucifixion. The bottom panel shows the church built upon a rock.
St. Andrew follows, in the listing of the Apostles. Legend tells us he died while preaching in Greece, on a cross shaped like the X depicted behind him. The two fishes at the bottom of the window recall his original occupation, which he left to become a fisher of men. The older St. James comes next. The three escalloped shells are symbols of his journeys, and the sword the weapon of his martyrdom. St. John the Evangelist was the only Apostle who died a natural death. But he was thrown into boiling oil, and saved only by a miracle. The symbol of the eagle is used to characterize the gospel he wrote, which soars high onto heaven in its theological majesty. St. Philip, another Apostle, is shown with a cross and two loaves of bread, recalling his words when Our Lord fed the multitude. He suffered a violent and cruel death after doing missionary work in Galatia and Phrygia. St. Bartholomew is the last of the Apostles shown on the right side of the church. The symbol of human skin and the cross refer to his death by flaying and crucifixion. After he was crucified, his head was cut off. St. Mark, though not an Apostle, wrote the second of the gospels. He is shown at his desk, writing that gospel. The symbol of the lion is associated with St. Mark, since he opens his gospel with a description of St. John the Baptist, the “voice of one crying in the wilderness.”
St. Francis of Assisi is given a place of honor in our windows, since he is the patron of the Sisters who teach in our school. He is shown surrounded by animals and vegetation, which is symbolic of his great love for God’s creatures. The bottom panel shows a cross with three marks of the Stigmata which he received. The last window on the right side of the nave is that of St. Edward, the great and just king of England, who built Westminster Abbey, symbolized at his left. He is also the patron of the pastor, who was charged with the building of this church.
Crossing over to the left side of the nave, we come to the window of St. Paul, the fiery Apostle of the Gentiles. He is shown with the sword of the spirit in one hand, and the Word of God in the other. The quill and ink on the book in the bottom panel symbolize the great Epistles of St. Paul. St. Luke, another Evangelist, comes next. From the earliest Christian times, he has been given the symbol of the Ox, shown here, because of his full account of the sacrificial death of Our Lord. We return to the list of original Apostles with the window of St. Thomas. The carpenter’s square recalls the fact that he erected a church with his own hands at Malipor, in East India. He is the patron saint of builders. The bottom panel depicts’ Christ showing his wounds to the doubting Thomas, after His resurrection. St. Thomas was killed by a pagan priest, who impaled him on a spear. St. Matthew was both Apostle and Evangelist. A desk is shown in the background with scrolls symbolic of his writings. An angel, also a messenger of God, is shown in the bottom panel. The younger St. James is shown next, with a symbol of Jerusalem, where he labored, and of which city he was the first Bishop. St. James was clubbed to death. St. Jude, the patron of desperate cases, follows. He did missionary work in Arabia, Syria and Mesopotamia, hence the symbol of the ship, to indicate his travels. St. Simon was the companion of St. Jude on many of his missionary tours. They share a common feast day in the calendar of the church. In the bottom panel, St. Simon is symbolized by a fish lying on a book, to show his success as a fisher of men through the power of God’s Word. St. Matthias is the Apostle chosen to take the place of Judas. The axe and the book tell the story of his martyrdom while preaching the Gospel of Christ in Judea.
At the side entrance near the oratory, we find the window of Our Lord Blessing the Children, chosen for this place because of its nearness to the room where our smaller children will be on Sundays.
The three oratory windows show the Cross and Crown of Faith, the Anchor and Rope of Hope, and the Heart of Charity-the three great virtues of Christianity, which lie at the root of Catholic teaching performed by our Sisters. In the choir, we find three musical symbols identified with sacred music; the Lyre of the Old Testament, the Organ, and the Viola. In the bottom panels are shown three Gregorian Melodies of the phrase “Cor Jesu Sacratissimum” – Most Sacred Heart of Jesus. In the sacristies we find the symbol of the priesthood in the Stole; the symbol of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass in the Cup, Grapes and Wheat; and the symbol of the Altar Boys in the Cruets and Bell.
Returning to the front of the church, or narthex, there is the Baptism of Our Lord by St. John the Baptist, in the Baptistry. In the opposite area on the left, are the two founders of the Holy Ghost Fathers’ Congregation, Father Claude Poullart des Places, and Father Francis M. P. Libermann, both men of great missionary zeal. In the bottom panel of both windows the coat-of-arms of the, Holy Ghost Fathers is portrayed, to pay honor to the priests of the Order that has served the parish from its foundation. Father Des Places was a French lawyer who became a priest and founded the Holy Ghost Order in 1703, to work primarily for the people of Africa. Father Libermann was a converted Jew, who founded the Congregation of the Immaculate Heart of Mary in 1848, which was joined to the Holy Ghost Order by decree of Rome. The arms of the Order therefore bear the symbols of the Holy Ghost, in the form of a dove, and the Crowned Heart of Mary.
Finally, in a commanding position high above the narthex, is the heroic figure of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Patron of our parish, shown in a twenty-five foot window.
May these saintly figures serve to incite us to imitate their virtues, and by so doing, bring us closer to Almighty God.