Dear parishioners and visitors:
St. Joseph Catholic Church was dedicated on 19 March (St, Joseph’s feast day), 1953. The bell tower was added in 1957. Some of the windows from the old church, funded by donors Mr. and Mrs. J. E. Albrich sometime before 1889, were incorporated into the newly dedicated church. *See Addendum* Unfortunately, we do not know the name of the windows’ artists/creators. But we do consider the stained glass windows that adorn our church to be a parish and diocesan treasure. What they say to those who view them ought to be fully understood and appreciated, from both an artistic and religious perspective. We hope that this brochure will help lead to that understanding and appreciation.
The windows are keyed to the ground plan of the church as shown here:
Windows 1 and 2 are above the altar, to the left and right. Windows 3 and 4 are on opposite sides of the transept. Windows 5-8 are on the south wall of the church, 9-12 on the north wall, and finally, the triumphant Window 13, which is above the choir loft at the inside rear of the church.
Window 1 depicts the Old Testament priest and king of Salem (Jerusalem), Melchizedek, offering bread, wine and his blessing to Abraham in honor of his military victory over his enemies, and the rescue of his nephew, Lot. (Gen 14:18) This sacrificial offering of bread and wine foreshadows Christ’s blessing of bread and wine at the Last Supper.
Jesus says to his apostles gathered there,
“This is my body…. This is my blood, which confirms the
covenant between God and His people.” (Mark 14:22-24)
The Last Supper; the first Eucharist. How appropriate is
the placement of
these windows, just above Christ’s altar!
Starting with Window 3 we begin a journey through the life of Christ. Here we witness the Nativity of the Christ child in the manger, surrounded by Mary and Joseph on the left, and the adoring shepherds to the right, as the angel proclaims from on high, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth, peace to men of good will.” (Luke 2:14) Note the symbolic references to the Good Shepherd and Lamb of God.
Window 4 On the day of Pentecost, the Apostles and Mary (there were also other women there) were meeting together in one place, often referred to as the “Upper Room.
All were fearful of what was going on outside. Suddenly, there came a mighty wind, and “what looked like flames or tongues of fire settled on each of them; everyone present was filled with the Holy Spirit and began speaking in other languages.” (Acts 2:1-4)
The apostles, led by Peter, who faces us here, boldly proclaiming the word of God, went out and began their life-long mission of spreading the Gospel to all nations. (Acts 2:14-40) Thus began a new era in the history of Western man. Because of these events, Pentecost is regarded as the birthday of the Church.
Window 5 In this window, we see the young Jesus, feared lost, but now found by His parents, sitting with the Jewish rabbis, discussing and debating Hebraic law as set forth in the scroll held by one of the two elders, and the scroll laid out in front of Him. This humble carpenter’s son, going about His heavenly Father’s business — teaching the teachers! (Luke 2: 41-50)
Window 6 portrays a very ordinary scene of the Holy Family, the hidden years of Christ’s life, when He “grew in wisdom and status and in favor with God and man.” (Luke 2: 52) Notice the symbolic temple in the background, indicating that He was still in touch with His faith. Very ordinary, but a coming of age to which we can all relate.
Window 7, depicting the Wedding Feast at Cana, is perhaps one of the most beloved of stories in Christ’s life: the bride and groom and her father in the background, mortified at not having enough wine for their guests on this beautiful occasion; Mary entreating her Son to make things right. Jesus, yielding to His mother’s insistence (what son can resist his mother under such circumstances?), instructs the family’s steward to fill six stone jars with water, which immediately is served as wine of the finest vintage — Christ’s first miracle! (John 2:1-11)
In Window 8 we see an urban, up-scale setting. A well-to-do young man asks Jesus what he needs to do to earn eternal life. He says he has obeyed all God’s commandments. What else must he do? Jesus replies, “Go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor. … Then come follow me.” When the young man heard this, “he went away sad….” (Matthew 19: 16-22) The two men behind the young man may be family or friends. Or perhaps they represent us, pondering the difficult challenge set forth in Christ’s words.
Window 9 is replete with symbols of the church that will come to be. Jesus, knowing that His ministry on earth will soon end gives Peter the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Though Peter has his flaws, Jesus knows his inner goodness, and strength of character, and says, “Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church”, as James and John on our behalf witness this momentous event. (Matthew 16: 18-19) Below, the boat, oar, net and fish remind us that all twelve of the apostles would become fishers of men. And above, the papal symbols allude to the Pope as the successor to Peter down through the ages.
Christ’s crucifixion, shown here in Window 10, is most evocative of the sorrow of His mother, even despite her knowledge of the divinity radiating from Him, as she prays for Him. John cannot bear to look, averting his eyes in sadness and grief. As the sun and the moon are obscured, and darkness falls across the land, we fear that even the Son of Man Himself has given in to despair: Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews, cries out, “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” (Matthew 27: 45-46)
We soon find out, in Window 11, that Jesus has not been abandoned by His Father. We behold, in the artist’s conception of the Resurrection, Christ rising from a beautiful alabaster sarcophagus, assisted by a Seraphic angel (note the curved wings, harkening back to the image of the angels’ wings spread above the Arc of the Covenant). His divinity is again represented here by a cross shining and radiant above. Below Christ’s feet, a soldier — lance and shield at hand — cowers in the presence of the risen Lord, His final triumph over worldly authority. (Matthew 28: 2)
Simply put, in Window 12 we see the Ascension of Christ to His Father in heaven, to be joined in oneness with the Holy Spirit as the Trinity, symbolized by the triangle above His head. Looking on in wonder, as Jesus gives them His final blessing, are His most beloved apostles, Peter and his brother Andrew on the left; John and his brother James on the right. Christ’s sojourn on earth is ended. Man has been redeemed! Salvation is now possible for all humankind! (Acts 1: 6-11)
And finally, having reviewed Christ’s birth, life, death, resurrection and ascension, through all these beautiful stained glass windows, we consider Window 13, above the choir loft in the rear of the church. This magnificent circular window depicts Christ as “Lord of all Lords, and King of all Kings.” (Rev 17:14), as represented by His regal garments and the royal orb in His left hand.
Christ says: “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.” (Rev 22:13) Though He is the be-all and end-all, His divine love, symbolized by His Sacred Heart, and His very Being shine their radiance upon us as He raises His hand, blessing our comings and goings in this church and the world outside its walls.
Windows added to the church dedicated in 1953 (listed along with their donors) were:
Altar/Baptistery – Ethel and Harry Moran
The Nativity – Teresa Arnold
Pentecost – Thomas H. Byrnes
The Holy Family – Patrick N. Plamondon
The Crucifixion – Lillie Nadstaner
The Ascension – Emma Maloney Sweet
The Resurrection – Lucy Newman
Christ the King (circular window) – William Clark Looney
Concept and photographs for this brochure are by Woody Tiernan. Design and layout by Nancy Ramsey. Final assembly by Deb Lyons. Narrative by Woody Tiernan, in consultation with Fr. Todd Molinari. (March 2011. Revised Feb 2013)