Friday, January 30, 2009

The Stained Glass Project: Other Churches, Other Windows

Tomorrow Bishop Martino will announce, via pre-recorded message, the fates of Roman Catholic parishes throughout the Diocese of Scranton. Some will remain as they are, some will absorb other parishes, and some will be absorbed - losing their individual identities forever.

Last week I attended Mass at Holy Trinity church, which is widely assumed to be one of the only Catholic churches that will remain open in Nanticoke. It is the largest, but is also the costliest to operate and has a parking lot that is woefully inadequate even for its current load of parishioners. How - or if - the Diocese intends to deal with the logistical details of these coming mergers remains to be seen.

I was in Holy Trinity Church, sitting near the front. I had taken my camera along with the intention of getting a picture of the window that portrays the head and shoulders of Saint Stanislaus Kostka and then comparing it to a portrait window featuring the same figure in St. Mary's church. But I got there too late to do any sightseeing. So I had to content myself with snapping images of the windows closest to me.

This window, at the front left of Holy Trinity, is clearly designed with a different aesthetic in mind from the ones I have been discussing in Saint Mary's. The window is far more ornate, more like a mosaic of glass with figures thrown in. The main figure portrayed - and I have no idea who this is; it could be Saint Dominic, or Francis Xavier, or Ignatius of Loyola, or any of a hundred other saints - is in a far stiffer pose than the painted glass portraits at St. Mary's, and the child at his side - is this Jesus as a child? Could the older figure be Saint Christopher? - seems disproportionately small.

An interesting feature of this image is that as the sun set, the figures' flesh became a pallid grayish-purple, finally fading to gray entirely.

There are two figures flanking the altar, set high up near the ceiling. Only my image of Saint Peter (identifiable by the keys he holds) came out sharply.

I have been in this church probably less than two dozen times in my life. These windows hold no memories for me, no deeper meaning. But for others, they do. I wish someone from this parish - from every parish - would take it upon themselves to record and preserve these images for all to see, and would share what the windows mean to them.

I am nearly halfway done with the windows of St. Mary's. I will begin to skip around a bit now, postponing discussions of some windows until I get more acceptable images. I'd better locate my tripod soon - I may be running out of opportunities to take these photos.


whimsical brainpan said...

Great pic of beautiful windows! When they close churches can't they save the windows somehow?

D.B. Echo said...

There are ways. The windows can sometimes be removed and installed elsewhere, or removed and sold to collectors. In the case of Holy Trinity, this church is slated to remain open as Nanticoke's sole Catholic church. So these particular windows are safe for now, unless the Bishop decides he needs some extra fuel for his private plane.

whimsical brainpan said...

I've saw a story on the news the other day where parishioners are camping out in churches the Catholic church wants to close. It seems to be a losing battle but I admire their dedication. It must be hard to lose your place of worship because of "budget cuts".

Anonymous said...

I believe this would be St. Vincent de Paul, whose common symbols are children, bread, beard, and skullcap (not sure what it's called). You can view my gallery of Vincent de Paul images here:

D.B. Echo said...

Thank you for the St. Vincent de Paul information! I actually came to this conclusion a while back when I was in this church again. The shields on either side of his head contain letters. To the left is a "St" superimposed on a large "V", and to the right is a "de" nestled under a large "P". Strange way of presenting the name!