Holy Rosary Stained Glass Windows

 

The windows were designed by Conrad Pickel, who is considered one of the leading stained glass designers in this country. He has created numerous glass windows for cathedrals, large and small churches. One of his best known works is the seven large windows in the Cathedral of Baltimore, Maryland.

 

The windows in the nave, as well as those in the Sanctuary and balcony, are made of the finest mouth-blown antique glass. The glass is called antique because it is made the same way as centuries ago when the famous windows in the European Cathedrals were created. Antique glass varies in its thickness and texture, has small and large bubbles, and is quite different from the machine-made windows. The various colors and shades are created by metallic oxides, which are mixed with molten sand. The colors are absolutely permanent and in a hundred years from now will be as beautiful as they are today. The design, which is applied to the glass, consists of iron oxide, vitrified in the kilns.

 

The Annunciation: “Hail, Full of Grace!”

The series starts with the window on the west side in the narthex. The Blessed Virgin has heard the message brought to her by the Archangel Gabriel and pronounces the words that change the course of history: “Be it done unto me according to Thy word.” In the upper left, we see the descending dove, symbol of the Holy Spirit. The golden rays signify the words “the power of the Most High will overshadow Thee.” The book on the floor suggests the prayers the Blessed Virgin offered to God in her years of preparation. The censer and rising smoke indicate that these prayers have been heard by the Heavenly Father: Let my prayers be as incense. The rose, symbol of love, is the Messianic rose, symbolizing God’s love for mankind shown in the Incarnation.

The Nativity: “The Word was Made Flesh”

The first window in the nave shows the beloved scene of the birth of Christ amid manifestations of heavenly glory in the humble stable of Bethlehem. In the center is seen the newborn Infant, His Mother, Mary, and His Father, St. Joseph. A bright light radiating from the star of Bethlehem illuminates the scene of the first Christmas, indicating the high origin of the Child. On the left is seen the three shepherds who have heard the message of the angel and have hurried to the stable to adore the Savior. On the right, are shown the Three Kings or Wise Men in their royal trappings, offering their gift of gold frankincense, and myrrh. The symbols in the lower sections are the Chi-Rho (the Greek initials of the word CHRIST) and the crown, expressing the idea that the Child is the Prince of Peace and the King of Kings.

 

The Presentation in the Temple: “Thy own soul a sword shall pierce”

The scene of the Presentation follows the account of St. Luke. We notice the prophetic figure of Simeon, this “just and devout man, looking for the consolation of Israel.” He receives the Child in his arms and says the words: “No Thou dost dismiss Thy servant, O Lord, according to Thy word in peace because my eyes have Thy salvation. . . Behold, this Child is destined for the rise and fall of many in Israel. . . and Thy own soul a sword shall pierce.” The Blessed Virgin is kneeling down as she offers her Son to the Lord. On the right, we see the priest who has officiated at the ceremony and Anna, the Prophetess, who had come to the temple at that hour to praise the Lord. On the floor we notice the cage with the “pair of turtledoves or two young doves prescribed by the law.” The symbol in the lower left indicates the dolor or sorrow of the Virgin, a heart pierced by a sword. The lily on the right signifies the purity of the Virgin.

 

The Finding in the Temple: “They found Him in the Temple”

The Boy Jesus in the temple symbolizes both our Savior’s love, even as a Child, for the things of His Father, and the extraordinary understanding of the Word of God. The temple of Jerusalem is indicated by the arches and columns uniting the three vertical sections of the window. The oil lamp and bright background on which we see the Boy Jesus reminds us that He is the Light of the world. On the faces of the dignified teachers, portrayed on the right, is reflected their surprise at the Savior’s understanding. On the left, the Blessed Virgin and St. Joseph have just entered the temple. They have not yet overcome the worries of the long search and express it to their Son: “Why hast thou done so to us? Behold, in sorrow, Thy Father and I have been seeking Thee.” On the floor is shown a container with scrolls, reminding us of the discussions with the teachers. The scroll in the lower left and the pen and inkpot on the right likewise symbolize the Holy Scriptures. In the window the designer attempted to depict a scene which one might have seen in the carpentry shop in Nazareth. St. Joseph is in working clothes and the Boy Jesus is helping him with his work. The Blessed Virgin is sitting in the background spinning wool. The doves on the tiled roof suggest the peaceful atmosphere of the first Christian home. The designs in the lower sections show carpenters’ tools, pliers and a saw.

 

The Wedding Feast at Cana: “Do whatever He tells you.”

The story of the wedding feast at Cana has much human appeal that many artists have tried to illustrate. In the series, depicting the life of the Blessed Virgin, this scene seems to have a particular importance because it demonstrates her intercession with her Divine Son. In the upper left, we see the young couple in whose honor the feast is given. How honored are they that Our Lord and His Mother have accepted the invitation. Other guests are shown in the upper right. “And the wine, having run short, the Mother of Jesus said, “They have no wine. . .” and to the attendants, “Do whatever He tells you.” In the foreground we see the servant as he obeys Jesus’ words and fills the six stone jars with water which Christ will change into wine. The interwoven rings are a symbol of the indissoluble bond between husband and wife, the bells on the right signify the joyful occasion of the feast.

 

The Crucifixion: “Behold Thy Mother”

The window depicts the central event in all human history. There on the Cross, Our Lord hung for three hours in spiritual and physical agony, as the Lamb of God, sacrificed for us and our countless sins. The work of Redemption is completed and accepted by the Heavenly Father whose hands are shown above the Cross. Before giving up His Spirit, Our Lord turns to His Mother: “Behold your son” and to St. John: “Behold your Mother.” With these words, the Blessed Mother becomes the Mother of us all. In the lower right, we see the three empty crosses on Golgotha, symbolizing the burial of Our Lord, and the empty tomb with the Easter lily foreshadowing the Resurrection on Easter morning.

 

The Descent of the Holy Spirit: “They were filled with the Holy Spirit”

The Acts of the Apostles reports that after the Ascension of Our Lord, Mary, the Mother of Jesus, and the disciples returned to Jerusalem and stayed in the Upper Room in continuous prayer. They elected Matthias in place of Judas. “And when the days of Pentecost were drawing to a close, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven. . . and there appeared to them tongues as of fire which settled upon each of them.” This is the scene illustrated in the window. We see the Blessed Virgin, surrounded by the twelve Apostles. We recognize St. Peter on her left and St. John on her right. The Holy Spirit is symbolized by the descending dove, emitting rays of bright light over the whole scene. From this moment on, the Gospel will spread over the whole world. Christ will be preached to the nations and the Church is founded (church building on the right).

 

The Assumption and Coronation of the Virgin: “Hail Queen of Heaven”

The series of windows on the life of the Blessed Virgin is concluded in the last nave window which portrays her Assumption and Coronation as Queen of Heaven. The Blessed Mother, who has shared her Son’s sorrows and agony on earth, is taking part in His triumph. Accompanied by the cherubs, she is rising towards the heavenly sphere (the clouds) where the Most Holy Trinity is bestowing on her the Crown. Her most glorious titles are expressed in this design: She is the Mother of God the Son; Daughter of God the Father; and the Bride of God the Holy Spirit. The letters M and R in the ventilator sections are initials of “Maria Regina”, Mary Queen of Heaven and Earth.