Window Tour

Window Tour

The Stained Glass Windows of St. Ann Catholic Church
Written and Photographed by Dan Pater.

From January 1938 to October 1939, according to the recently recovered ledger entitled St. Ann New Church Acc’t 1936-1937, six payments were made by Fr. Lehman to Emil Frei Stained Glass Company in St. Louis, Missouri, for a total of $10,994.00.

The windows may be said to be in an art deco style. It is presently unknown who decided upon that approach. Unconfirmed oral tradition suggests that Fr. Lehman sought European models for the new church. It is known that the Cincinnati architect, Edward Schulte, tended to infuse simplified versions of classic forms with modern expressions such as art deco, so there may be a connection there. Some have commented on the rich dark and almost monochromatic effect of many of the windows. Recent telephone conversations with Stephen Frei, the great-grandson of the company’s founder, Emil Frei, Sr. (1869-1942), and grandson of Emil, Jr. (1896-1967), states that this “darkness” was part of the Company’s style in those years.

Stained glass windows are traditionally a devotional and catechetical part of the church, along with the sculpture and painting, an aspect of the “poor man’s bible” that was designed into the great churches of mediaeval churches of Europe and the Near East. The introduction to the stained-glass windows is developed in this approach in mind. Note not only the dense, multi-layered symbolism of the windows, but also the way that elements (chi-rho, fish, plants) recur frequently from window to window, in an almost symphonic and unifying way. Words and text appearing in the windows is shown in CAPITAL letters.

Any further research might be usefully pursued at the Missouri History Society, Historical Society Division of Library and Archives, Jefferson Memorial Building, Forest Park, St. Louis, Missouri 63112.


Saint Joseph

The first window on the left (north) coming into the church from the main entrance is dedicated to St. Joseph, and is placed at the point geographically closest to the St. Joseph Church, mother parish of St. Ann Parish.

Joseph, a descendant of King David, the husband of Mary, foster father of Jesus, was obedient to the will of God through the prompting of the Holy Spirit and is pre-eminent among the saints.

We know little about Joseph apart from the narratives of the conception and birth of Jesus in the Gospels (Matt 1-2; Luke 1-2 ). Other legends about him are found in the apocryphal Proto-gospel of James and History of Joseph the Carpenter. Special devotion to Joseph first developed in the Eastern Church and soon grew in the West. One who fostered such devotion was St. Francis De Sales (1567-1622), patron saint of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. (His image as a Doctor of the Church is on the wooden reredos behind the main altar.)

In the mullioned sections above the main window are the words “WORK” (left) and “PRAY” (right). These words (also used as a motto by St. Benedict and the religious order he founded) remind us that the son-in-law of St. Anne is the patron saint of workers and also protector of the universal Church.

“JOSEPH” is holding a model of St. Ann Church in his hands and is surrounded by symbols of his endurance and patience (acorns, oak leaves) and purity (lily). Also, the tools of Joseph’s trade as carpenter are portrayed: a saw, a square and a hammer.

Superimposed above the saw is a “wooden” CHI-RHO (X and R are first Greek letters of the name ‘Christ’) and, directly below, an M surmounted by a crown encircling a fleur-de-lis, for Mary’s purity and heavenly queenship. Thus the entire Holy Family is present in symbolic form.

The marriage of Mary and Joseph was full of prayer and work, which accomplished the will and plan of God. This is represented by the divine hand over joined rings and teaches the means and end of holy families.

“PRAY WORK” is repeated at the bottom of the window, and next to this is an hour-glass, suggesting the wise use of time on these two hinges of the Christian life, so well exemplified by Joseph and those who are under his protection in the Church

Throughout the window here and there are the repeated motifs of oak leaf, acorn and lily. At the very bottom of the window is a shape that might be a stylized fish, or perhaps even a plane.




Saint Anne

The second window from the main entrance on the left (north) side of the nave of St. Ann Church is the most colorful one. The maternal genealogy of Jesus through St. Anne and Mary is shown by the hands extending from one figure to the other, from top to bottom.

The top left mullioned section carries the Greek word LOGOS, or “Word”, which identifies Jesus Christ as the incarnate second Person of the Holy Trinity (John 1), the Father’s creative Word (Wisdom 8). In the right mullioned section there is an ornate chalice from which springs the “chi-rho” (which looks here like a crossed “P” but often looks like a X and superimposed P), made of the two first two letters of “Christ” in Greek, XPISTOS. Behind the chalice is a sprig of wheat, referring to the Eucharist as the Church’s link to the life of the Holy Trinity.

“SAINT ANNE”, the mother of Mary, mother of Jesus, is labeled in the main window. Above her head, in the highest point of the main window, shines a star, indicating her holiness and divine favor. The elderly mother (note the wizened face and hands) extends her hands over her youthful daughter Mary, who has her own right hand raised in blessing while the left touches the child Jesus, easily identified by the unique halo he bears in all windows. His hands in turn present a representation of “THE MYSTERY OF THE HOLY MASS” in a circular, host-like scene of the crucifixion. This host stands above another ornate chalice, on the cup of which is represented the scene of the Pietà, which shows Mary holding the body of her crucified Son (indicated by “IHS”, the first three letters of Jesus’ name in Greek: IHSOUS) after His deposition from the cross. St. John looks on from the right. The Mother of the Word shared in the passion of Christ.

Below this symbolic scene is a large stylized representation of the Holy Spirit as a dove (Matt 3:16=Mark 1:10=Luke 3:22=John 1:32). The Paraclete hovers over four bearded faces in very small scale at the very bottom of the window, the evangelists, each with a hand raised in witness to the Truth.

The window’s periphery has various symbolic plants and animals. The pomegranate to the right of Anne’s face suggests her spiritual and physical fruitfulness, recalling her story from the apocryphal Proto-Gospel of James, which recounts how God granted her and Joachim a child in their old age, not unlike Sts Elizabeth and Zachary, the parents of John the Baptist. The oak leaves show her strength and endurance during times of trial and suffering. The lilies around the Virgin portray her beauty and purity. The vines and shafts of wheat indicate the spiritual nourishment of our sacramental food and drink. To the left of chalice are a caterpillar and butterfly, clearly referring to the transformation of death into life by the resurrection of Jesus himself and of His Faithful. Spiritual transformation through Baptism is shown by water and breathing fish directly below the butterfly. PAX reminds that the redemptive sacrifice and its renewal in the Mass brings peace between God and man though the work of Anne’s grandson.

The window is a profound interplay of literal and symbolic representation and meaning. Although dedicated to St. Anne it is clearly Christo-centric. No greater honor can be shown St. Anne and to Mary than to consider their central roles, through piety, faith and obedience, in bringing about our salvation by the incarnation of the Word of God. St. Anne bore Mary, who bore Jesus, from whose side, in water and blood, springs the Church, whose sons and daughters we are in by the Holy Mass.

 


Simeon

Simeon’s window is the third from the entrance on the left (north) side of the church. The mullioned upper parts show a cross springing from an M (a reference to Mary’s maternity of Jesus) and Mary’s crowned heart with a haloed cross (signifying the Virgin’s role in Jesus’ work of salvation).

Simeon is the righteous man who, in the Gospel according to Luke, comes to the temple under the impulsion of the Holy Spirit and recognizes the infant Jesus, brought to the temple for His circumcision, as the Messiah and consolation of Israel.

Simeon is shown here with seven flames around his head, probably a reference to the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit (see below). He carries the child Jesus in his arms (Luke 2:28) when he declares his canticle, the Nunc Dimittis (“Now, Lord, you may dismiss your Servant…”), which the Liturgy of the Hours (Breviary) uses each day for Compline (Night Prayer).

Mary and Joseph are present, as the Gospel tells of them wondering at the things which are said of Jesus. Simeon blesses Joseph and Mary and prophesies to Jesus’ mother: “Behold, this child is set for the fall, and for the resurrection of many in Israel, and for a sign which shall be contradicted; AND THY OWN HEART [A] SWORD SHALL PIERCE that, out of many hearts, thoughts may be revealed” (Luke 2:34-35, slightly modified Douay Rheims version). Mary will suffer when Jesus suffers and dies.

The youthful Mary, unveiled and with a barrette in her hair, the sword of Simeon’s foretelling at her breast. Joseph, below Mary, is shown with his shepherd’s crook as the protector and guide of the Holy Family.

Around the window are various symbols: the lily of purity, the crown of queenship, another smaller sword or dagger of Mary’s share in her Son’s Passion, a column of the Temple, a tiny crucifixion scene next to the word PIERCE, with Mary and St John.

The seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit, mentioned above in reference to the inspiration of Simeon, are based on the Latin version of Isaiah 11:2-3, not the nine-fold community-oriented charisms of 1 Corinthians 12-14 or the twelve Fruits of the Holy Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23. They are: Wisdom (right judgment especially of truth in divine things), Understanding (“common sense” perfects speculative reasoning in seeing truth by self-evident principles), Counsel (prudent response), Fortitude (courage, which allows strength of character for doing good, avoiding evil, and enduring difficulty), Knowledge (not only of information, but its right interpretation and use), Piety (reverence, worship and duty to God) and Fear of the Lord (wonder and awe of God, repugnance at offending him by sin, belief in his justice and judgment).

Simeon’s prophesy is the first of the Seven Sorrows of the Blessed Virgin. The others are the flight to Egypt, losing Jesus in Jerusalem, meeting Jesus on the way to Calvary, standing at the foot of the Cross, Jesus’ descent from the Cross, and Jesus’ burial.

 


Mary as New Eve

”AVE EVA” (Hail, Eve) in the mullioned upper parts of the window tells its theme: Mary as the new Eve. “Ave” at left reminds us of the “Hail Mary”, and the chi-rho of Christ’s name remind us Jesus is the Fruit of her womb. In the “Eva” part at right the forbidden fruit (apples?) reminds us of Adam and Eve’s fall.

Mary as new Eve is an extension of the Pauline teaching of Christ as New Adam, Lord of the New Creation (I Cor. 15:45-49). Eve disobeyed God by taking forbidden fruit from a tree to choose life, which led to death. Mary obeyed God in the Annunciation, and the Fruit of her womb choose to be put up on a tree, which led to life.

The early Church Fathers elaborated on this theme. St. Justin Martyr (+165): “Christ became a man by a virgin to overcome the disobedience caused by the serpent ...in the same way it had originated.” (Dialogue with Trypho). St. Ireneus, Bishop of Lyons, (+202) : “The knot of Eve’s disobedience was loosened by Mary’s obedience. The bonds fastened by the virgin Eve through disbelief were untied by the virgin Mary through faith.” (Adv. Haereses3:22). St. Ambrose of Milan (+397): “It was through a man and woman that flesh was cast from paradise; it was through a virgin that flesh was linked to God.” St. Jerome (+420) : “Death through Eve, Life through Mary.” (Ep. 22,21).

The imagery in the Window is of the Immaculate Conception, the dogma that “from the first moment of her conception the Blessed Virgin Mary was, by the singular grace and privilege of Almighty God and in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, Savior of humanity, kept free from all stain of original sin”. In fact, the proofs from tradition for this dogma, declared by Pius IX on Dec. 8, 1854 in Ineffabilis Deus, hearken back to the patristic texts cited above regarding Mary as the New Eve. The lily above Mary, carrying the child Jesus, signifies her purity. The crown shows she is queen of heaven. The star refers to many of her titles in her Litanies, such as “Star of the Sea”, “Morning Star”. These symbols and other plants of the Garden of Eden are repeated throughout the window. Note also the flowered “M”. The Virgin’s ornately shod foot treads on Satan (Gen 3:15) even as he hides behind the figure of the deceiving serpent (Gen 3:1) tempting Eve into taking the forbidden fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Gen 2:17; 3:6).

Pope Pius XII wrote: “Mary, in the work of Redemption, was by God’s
will joined with Jesus Christ, the cause of salvation, in much the same way as Eve was joined with Adam, the cause of death (Encyclical Ad Caeli Reginam, 11 Oct. 1954). Vatican II: “What the virgin Eve bound by her unbelief, Mary loosened by her faith… “ (Lumen Gentium 8,56) “For believing and obeying, Mary brought forth on earth the Father’s Son. This she did, knowing not man but overshadowed by the Holy Spirit, as the New Eve, who put absolute trust, not in the ancient serpent, butin the messenger of God. We, the faithful of the Church are called to follow Mary’s example of trusting faith and fidelity to the Holy Will of God.” (LG 8,63).

If Eve’s name means she is the ‘mother of all the living’ (Gen 3:20), Mary is especially so through our redemption to eternal life completed by her son Jesus.

 

Holy Family / Incarnation
The windows of the left (north) transept are a unified pair portraying the Incarnation of the second Person of the Holy Trinity. There is a rich symbolic fusion of the life of Jesus and His sacrifice with the sacramental life of the Church, which is the continuation of Jesus’ saving work. A strong compositional element here is the zig-zag line that links various figures.

The mullioned sections show a priestly stole (Holy Orders)and a jar of ointment labeled OI (Oleo Infirmorum= ‘Oil of the Sick’; Anointing of the Sick). These also symbolize Christ, prophesied as priest of sacrifice (Psalm 110:4; Hebrews 5:5; Hebrews 9:11) and anointed king, the Messiah (which is the Hebrew for Christ, “anointed one”; Mark 15:32, Luke 23:2).

Mary holds the infant Jesus and blesses with one hand raised. The lilies around her symbolize her purity. Facing her from the right is Joseph, holding a saw and hammer as the tools of carpentry.

Below Joseph, the Eternal Father’s divine hand blesses Matrimony in Mary and Joseph (see the symbolic rings). The keys show the Church’s power to forgive sins coming from Jesus’ sacrifice and exercised in Penance. Below these, at right, is either the not-yet incarnate Son of God, kneeling in obedience to the Father (Philippians 2) or, more probably, Mary kneeling at the Annunciation. A ray of light proceeds downward to the scene (Luke 1:26), where the angel Gabriel at left, sent by God (note the Father’s divine hand) addresses the Virgin lower in the right window. Upon Mary’s acceptance of the message the ray of light from the angel to her light underlines this moment when God’s Son becomes Mary’s child. Within her is the sign of the Holy Trinity (DEUS = God; P = Pater = Father; F = Filius = Son; S = Spiritus = Holy Spirit).

Right of the announcing Gabriel is the host (bearing Jesus’ unique halo), chalice and grapes representing the continued re-presentation of His bloody sacrifice in the unbloody Eucharistic sacrifice of the Mass.

Further down, at left, is the Holy Spirit as dove over the hand that pours the water of Baptism, which flows onto Jesus, still as a child, playing with alphabet blocks, like children of the Church who are baptized and receive Confirmation.

To the right a ram reminds of Abraham who, prefigures God’s infinite love, as willing to sacrifice his only son. Jesus is the sacrificial Lamb of God.

The fish around the bottom may have various meanings: Baptism of the Faithful who, like fish, live by water; Jesus was symbolized in the early Church by a fish (the Greek word ‘ichthous’ makes an acrostic, “Jesus Son of God, Savior”); the Faithful, entrusted by Christ to the Church whose visible head, the Pope, is the successor of Peter as “fisher of men.”

 

 


Christ as Judge

The first window on the right (south) of the main entrance portrays Christ as Judge. In medieval churches the rear (west) wall, was commonly dedicated to the Last Judgment. Michelangelo's great fresco in the Sistine Chapel is one of the most famous examples.

In the mullioned upper parts we see a sorrowful face, perhaps of God, angry at the sin of mankind, and whose tears pour into a heart shape containing Noah’s ark on the flood. The right side the Almighty sends down the rain. In the third tiny part are the orb and scepter of Jesus’ authority.

“HE HATH GIVEN HIM [authority] TO DO JUDGMENT” (John 5:27) indicates Jesus with the hand of the Father above Him conferring this power. The divine hand is surrounded by the waters of the upper firmament (possibly a continuation of water theme of the mullioned section) in which fish are swimming here and throughout the window. Between Christ’s folded arms are a tiny cross, anchor and flame, symbols of the theological virtues Faith Hope and Charity, which are illustrated below along with their opposite vices.

“FAITH” is illustrated by the crucifix reverenced by two figures, a larger bearded face with hand in ornate sleeve and one smaller kneeling naked man (who may be the good thief of Luke 23:40-43). In contrast, to the right is the golden calf of “IDOL WORSHIP” (Exodus 32) and a worshipper of this false god.

“HOPE” is represented by Jesus’ descent into hell (Zechariah 9:11; Ephesians 4:9-10) to free the just patriarchs, prophets and kings of the Old Testament. In partial view behind Jesus there is a part of the broken-down grate or door of hell seen in many representations of this scene.

The two keys indicate the powers of the keys given to the Church as an extension of the power of Christ to forgive and loose sins in Heaven and on earth (Matthew 16:19; 18:18).

Next to the key we see an enigmatic haloed figure, which by proximity
to the keys might seem to be Peter. However, the small frightening face above him might suggest this is Abel and his murderous brother Cain.

Further down, the Father’s hand is once more over Christ who points to a poor person (Lazarus) to be treated as His brother and sister (Matthew 25:40) through “LOVE”. By contrast “GREED” is shown in the mustached and bearded rich man (Dives) with a big bag of money (Luke 16). These Jesus will separate on the last day, like sheep and goats (Matt 25:31-46).

 


Saint Peter

“SAINT PETER” in the upper, corbelled portions of the window (easiest to see from across the church in the far (north) aisle) identifies the window’s subject.

Above Peter’s head the hand of God blesses and shows the divine source of Peter’s authority, given by the Father to Jesus (Matt 28:18) and entrusted by Jesus to Peter (Matt 16:16). Peter heard the voice of the Father at Jesus’ Transfiguration (Matt 17:5-6; 2 Pt 1:17-18), which artistically is often symbolized by this same image, as in the baptism of Jesus.
 
Alongside St. Peter’s head are some plant leaves: ivy, always green even in winter, represents eternal life (El Greco also places it above St. Peter’s head in his portrayal of the penitent Apostle). Oak, because of it’s hearty nature, is a symbol of strength and endurance of Peter’s faith despite his occasional weakness.
 
Peter, shown haloed, bald, and bearded, holds up one key by its shaft in his left hand reaching across his chest; the other key he holds by his right hand. These keys, traditionally portrayed in gold and silver (cfr Milton’s “two massy keys … of metals twain” in Lycidas 110-111), represent the duplex authority of binding and loosing on earth and in heaven, entrusted to Peter by Jesus (again, Matt 16).
 
Framed by the keys, to the left one sees several fishes of various sizes, some clearly in the water - note the “wavy” leading of the window in this area. Below that is a stylized boat with full sail.
 
Images of a boat and assorted fish don’t surprise us in a “St. Peter window”, of course. Peter, a fisherman when he met Jesus (Matt 4:18), often encounters the Lord around water, in boats, and fish often figure in the scene (Matt 4:18-23; Matt 14:13-34; Mark 5:1; Luke 5; John 6; John 21). But each of these has deeper-than-literal meanings.

The Church is often portrayed as Peter’s boat, rocked on the stormy sea of earthly turmoil. However, security and hope are present in the 3 anchors (representing the Trinity or the Theological Virtues?). One can consider comparing this to Noah’s ark, as well.
 
The fishes also have multiple and intersecting layers of symbolic meaning. They live in water; the Christian is born spiritually in Baptism. But Christians are also mystically saved by being caught as little fishes in the net of Jesus’ Fisher of men (Matt 4:18, see also Jeremiah 16:16). In fact, the “wavy” window leading may indeed represent Peter’s net in the water.

At the bottom of the window are the loaves and fishes of the Gospel (Matt 14/Mk 6/ Lk 9/Jn 6), along with, opposite the anchors, grape clusters “dropping” into a chalice. This shows the sacramental life of the Church. The baptized are nourished in the Eucharist by the risen Jesus, the “Fish of the living” (note the air bubbles coming from the fish’ mouth; cfr Tertullian, Augustine and other Church Fathers): note the distinctive halo of Christ around the fish, and the identifying CHI-RHO). Peter fulfills Christ’s command to baptize all the nations (Matt 28:19) and to renew His sacrifice in memory of Him (I Corinthians 11:23-26).

Peter, then, is shown in this veritable catechism as the bridge-maker (pontifex) between Heaven and Earth, as Christ’s Vicar who leads the believer through troubles to the Father, anchoring the Church’s virtue in her sacraments.

 


Ecclesia (Church)

“ECCLESIA” is the Church, and the third window on the right (south) upon entering from the main entrance portrays some of the cultural activities of which She has availed through the centuries, especially with regard to sacred art and liturgy. We are reminded that, more recently, the Second Vatican Council made this exhortation: “Bishops should have a special concern for artists, so as to imbue them with the spirit of sacred art and of the sacred liturgy. This they may do themselves or through suitable priests who are gifted with a knowledge and love of art.” (Vatican II, Sacrosanctum Concilium, Ch. 7, n. 126

The mullioned upper sections carry Alpha and Omega, the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet, which the Lord God uses three times in the Book of Revelation (Rev. 1:8; 21:6; 22:13) to call Himself “the beginning and the end”. In the smaller section is a kind of stylized pine tree, perhaps the cedar of Lebanon, an image of the just person flourishing in the Church (Psalm 92:12). More literally, they are the great trees from which Solomon built the first Temple (1 Kings 5:6)

The Church is represented as a youthful woman, royally attired and crowned. Above her head are the three joined rings of the Holy Trinity, in Whose life She participates by taking up the cross (Matthew 16:24), which is shown at Her right side.

Around Her shoulders is a garland or stole which extends down the middle of the window. It is made up of an alternating pattern of grape leaves and grape clusters, again associating the arts with the liturgy. As usual, the artist has placed oak leaves through the window, signifying strength, patience and perseverance, this time of the Church and her Faithful through the centuries.

From top to bottom, below the figured of the Church, there are four male figures labeled as “ARCHITECTURE”, “SCULPTURE”, “PAINTING” and by stylized chant, which signifies MUSIC, of course.

Each figure is holding or is surrounded by some of the tools of his trade. The architect is shown with a hammer, a triangle and a square. The sculptor holds a large chisel, with another one shown across from him. The painter holds a big paintbrush. The musician holds what may be a flute, while there is another one there, along with a harp. Note the metronome, referring to the need for rhymn and skill. “The musical tradition of the universal Church is a treasure of inestimable value, greater even than that of any other art. The main reason for this pre-eminence is that, as sacred song united to the words, it forms a necessary or integral part of the solemn liturgy.” (Vatican II, Sacrosanctum Concilium Ch. 6, n. 112)

“Those who perceive in themselves this kind of divine spark which is the artistic vocation as poet, writer, sculptor, musician, and actor feel at the same time the obligation not to waste this talent but to develop it, in order to put it to service of their neighbor and of humanity as a whole. (Pope John Paul II, Letter to Artists, 3)

 


Lux Mundi / Saint Thomas Aquinas

In the mullioned sections are two fish, the left with the Chi-Rho (the first two letters of ‘Christ’ in Greek) and on the right with the cross, clearly linking them as symbolic representation of Jesus, who was called the “Fish of the Living” (“Ichthos Zoonton” in Greek) by the early Fathers of the Church and portrayed in early Christian art, as well.

Christ is shown as LUX MUNDI, “The Light of the World” (John 8:12; 9:5). Above His head is the Star of David (Rev 22:16, cf also Num. 24: Matt. 2:2, 7, 9f; 2 Pet. 1:19; Rev. 2:28; 9:1; 22:16), to the right are an
oak leaf (strength, eternity) and, perhaps, stylized lightning. Jesus Himself is dressed as of the royal priesthood (Heb. 3:1; 4:14; 6:20) and carries the orb surmounted by the cross, sign of his kingly authority (Psalm 45:7; Heb 1:8). Below is seen another hand, that of the Father coming from the firmament, and the rays emanating from it shine upon a fish – again Jesus as ‘Fish of the Living’ and, from Father and Son, the dove-like Holy Spirit. Jesus also tells his disciples that they are the light of the world (Matthew 5:14). That light passes from Father, the Son, and Holy Spirit who, in this window, are shown to inspire one of the greatest theologians of the mediaeval Church, Saint Thomas Aquinas (ca. 1225-1275, feast Jan 28, formerly Mar 7, the day of his death). The “Angelic Doctor”, as he is commonly known, is shown tonsured, for he was
trained by and destined for the Benedictines, but elected instead to join the (then) recently founded Order of Preachers of St. Dominic. The star upon his throat may indicate the illuminating eloquence of his sermons and teaching.

ST. THOMAS AQUINAS, with quill in hand, stands in the act of composing the most famous and most influential of his many works, the SUMMA THEOLOGICA, his “Summary of Theology”, which for centuries was the touchstone of orthodoxy and the fundamental text of priestly formation, and the accepted basis of much of modern Roman Catholic teaching. After St. Paul and St. Augustine there are few, if any, to rival Thomas Aquinas’ immense influence on Christian Doctrine. Saint Thomas, for all his intellectual genius in using ancient philosophy (mainly the then newly re-discovered Aristotle) to enlighten Catholic belief, was keenly aware of the sharp distinction between human reason and the grace of faith. St. Thomas taught that the existence of God, His eternity, His creative power and providence can be discerned through natural reason, apart from revelation (cfr Romans 1). On the other hand, many fundamental Christian truths, such as the Holy Trinity, the Incarnation and the resurrection of the body are mysteries which lie beyond the limits of rational understanding. They come to us revealed through the Scriptures and consistent teaching Tradition of the Fathers and Magisterium of the Church. While human understanding of truth is the province of the mind, the acceptance of mystery in faith belongs to the will to believe. These intellectual and moral acts of the Christian constantly seek harmony and mutual fulfillment and nourishment.

A clear example of the way in which St. Thomas’ light brightly shines in the Church today is found in the Eucharistic hymns taken from his Office for the Feast of Corpus Christi: Adore Te devote (“Humbly We Adore Thee”), O Salutaris Hostia (“O Saving Victim”), Pange Lingua (“Sing My Tongue the Savior’s Glory”), particularly its last verses, the Tantum Ergo. Thomas taught wonderfully of the seven Sacraments of the Church as instituted by Christ which confer grace. The Eucharist, to which he was especially devoted, is the “Sacrament of Sacraments”. As a faithful disciple of Jesus and His Church, Thomas is a true light in the Church for the world.

 


Christ as Moses

The double window in the south (right) transept invites us to consider Jesus Christ (right panel) as the new Moses (left panel) and gives us various parallels on which to base this comparison.

In the mullioned upper parts are two balancing scales for law and justice, which hearken to St Paul’s contrast between the Laws of the Old and New Testaments. The scale on the left hangs from a sword (punishment, death), while that on the right hands from the cross (Jesus takes up the punishment due by the Law to give us life). God used Moses to give the Old Law where transgression leads to punishment; Jesus is the giver of the New Law, where transgression is forgiven through repentance and faith in Jesus brings life.

Moses is shown holding the Ten Commandments given to him by God on the mountain referred to as “Mount Sinai” (Exodus 19:23) or “Horeb” (Deuteronomy 5:2) in the form of two stone tablets. Here the commandments are divided unevenly: the first three having to do with obligations to God are on the one tablet, the other seven, treating duties to neighbors and society, are on the other.

The Star of David above a five-pointed crown bearing the five nails for the five wounds of Christ links the unity of the two Testaments: Jesus is the Son of King David, heir to God’s promises to his descendants in the flesh.

The soldier standing menacingly with the sword reminds that both Moses and Jesus as infants were in danger during plans of mass extermination of male children. Moses was saved from the water by the maid of Pharaoh’s daughter and is saved in Pharaohs house (Exodus 2); and Jesus is saved from the massacre of the children by the Flight into Egypt (Matthew 2).The youthful Jesus (note the special halo) is shown standing over either Moses or perhaps one of the Holy Innocents.

At right, above Jesus’ head is the crown of thorns. One hand raised to point to Moses in the left panel. He wears a priestly stole with a pattern of crosses. To the right of the stole is a cross rising from the triangular symbol of the Trinity (P=Pater=Father; F=Filius=Son; S=Spiritus=Spirit).

Mary with braided hair carries her Child (whose unique halo is partially blocked by His mother’s cloak). “HAIL MARY” and lilies around her bespeak her purity, while oak leaves of fortitude appear in both panels.

Note that the Gospel of Matthew is structured in large part on Jesus as the new Moses: The five great discourses reflect the five first books of the Old Testament, the Torah or Law of Moses on Mount Sinai. While in Luke the Beatitudes are given on the plain, in Matthew Jesus gives His New Law on the mountain side. There are other parallels as well. Can you think of any?

 


Holy Mass and Sacraments

The windows on the left (north) side of the sanctuary call to mind the HOLY MASS and the Sacraments. The left window shows the Holy Spirit as a dove above a cross made up of twelve tongues of fire, showing the Apostles at Pentecost, with Mary (M) at the center of the cross. This number also calls to mind the twelve Fruits of the Holy Spirit given in Confirmation. These include the nine listed in Galatians 5:22 and 3 added by Catholic tradition: love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance, modesty, continence, chastity.

Under the arms of the cross are a shell and flowing water for Baptism and the grape vine and clusters. The cross of flames springs from a host bearing the words +HOLY + +MASS + and IHS (the first three letters of the name of Jesus in Greek) and a chalice similar to that in the St. Anne window. These and the bunches of grape represent the Holy Eucharist. The power of the keys to bind and loose sins given to Peter and the Church (Matthew 16) symbolize the sacrament of Penance. The divine hand over and joined circles portray Matrimony and this sacrament’s divinely-ordained indissolubility. The stole represents Holy Orders and the jar of ointment with the olive leaves and with the letters OI for “Oleo Infirmorum” (Oil of the Sick) represents the Anointing of the Sick,
in the past called Extreme Unction. Other Holy Oils (the Oil of Catechumens and Chrism) are used in the rites of Baptism, Confirmation and Holy Orders.

The right window at top shows a fish, which is Christ (Fish in Greek, “ichthus”, makes the acrostic “Jesus Christ Son of God, Savior”) over the chi-rho, the symbolic first two letters of “Christ”. Below is a pelican piercing its breast to feed its young, as it was once thought to do. This became a mystical representation of Christ’s side pierced and nourishing His children in the Church with His body and blood. More fish over the waves and the basket of loaves represent the Gospel prefigurations of this sacramental food. The creatures used to represent the Evangelists are: a man (Matthew), a lion (Mark), an eagle (John) and an ox (Luke). These derive from Ezekiel 1:1-14 and Revelations 4:6-10. The four creatures were variously assigned to the Evangelists by Church Fathers such as St Irenaeus of Lyons, St Augustine of Hippo, Pseudo-Athanasius, and St Jerome, whose assignation has remained traditional, especially in Western Art.

The moon and a star, with more of Christ’s monograms, combine over a smaller host and chalice with grape bunches of the Mass and Eucharist.

The lamb of sacrifice shown by the chi-rho is the Lamb of God. The Butterfly and the caterpillar below show Christ’s transformation of death to life in His Resurrection, in which we share by the Sacraments.

 


Creation

The double window on the right (south) in the sanctuary shows the stories of Creation and of Noah’s flood. This time, chronologically we start with the panel on the right.

The Spirit of God hovers over the formless void (Genesis 1:1-2). God, with Trinitarian halo, then creates the world in six days, with aspects of his work depicted and labeled: LIGHT (Gen 1:3-5), the FIRMAMENT (Gen 1:6-8), WATER and LAND (Gen 1:9-10) and VEGETATION (Gen 1:11-13), HEAVENLY BODIES (Gen 1:14-19), ANIMALS, BIRDS, FISH (Gen 1:20-25) and finally MAN (Gen 1:26-31). Adam is already clothed and kneeling with his hands to his head, hiding from God, so he has already sinned, and the story continues …

… in the left panel, where Eve (EVA) is shown seduced by Satan (small dragon-like face at upper right) and the serpent which encircles her. Thus comes sin into God’s created world. God destroys corrupt and sinful humanity in the flood (Genesis 6-8; note the watery waves and lightning, some of which is in the only brilliant red in all of the St. Ann windows), but saves his creation by just Noah’s ark, which is shown as a boat form in outline containing the Patriarch himself surrounded by animal life (notice the duck, owl, squirrel, cat, bull, elephant, a little snake, insect, dog, horse or mule, rooster; nearest to Noah is the dove amidst plant life that will signify that the water has abated and life is renewed).

Below this is Mary (note the word AVE of the “Hail Mary”), holding her divine Child in one arm and grasping a Cross with the other. She treads on the serpent in the iconography of the Immaculate Conception that we saw in the New Eve window (fourth window on the left-north-upon entering from the main doors). Much of the commentary there applies here as well.

However, the colorful aura around the Blessed Virgin adds a new symmetrical commentary and unites the two stories into a meaningful whole. The rainbow is the sign of God’s promise to never again destroy the world in such a way (Genesis 9:16). Mary, surrounded by that rainbow is the sign of the fulfillment of God’s promise in Jesus Christ whose throne is also surrounded by a rainbow in Revelations (4:3). Through Eve death came into the world and through the Mary as New Eve Jesus, the Way, Truth and Life (John 14:6) restores the created universe.