The new stained glass windows in St. Mary’s Church, Provost, portray the sacramental, scriptural and theological aspect of our faith via symbols, colors, numbers and intricate artwork.
In the top section, we see the golden rays of light interspersed with rays of heavenly blue reminding us of God’s royal splendor:
Oh Lord, send forth your Spirit and renew the face of the earth (Ps. 104).
Numbers, either written or in symbolic form, are associated with the mysteries of our Christian faith. Drawn from Sacred Scripture, numbers have become part of the Church’s Tradition and are found in her liturgy, art and literature.
The seven doves depict the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, namely: wisdom, understanding, counsel, knowledge, fortitude (courage), piety (love), and reverence (fear of the Lord or awe).
Seven is the symbolic number of charity, grace and the Holy Spirit. It always signifies fullness, plentitude, totality and perfection. There are seven sacraments, seven deadly sins, the seven joys and the seven sorrows of our Lady, and the seven last words spoken by our Lord, Jesus Christ, as he hung on the cross. In the Book of Revelation, we read about the seven churches of Asia, the seven spirits, the seven golden lampstands, the seven stars, the seven burning lamps and the seven seals. The eight lilies represent joy, victory, dignity, purity, divinity and the resurrection. We are reminded of the Madonna lily and white Easter lilies.
Christ rose from the grave on the eighth day after his triumphal entry into Jerusalem and this is symbolized in the octagonal shape of many baptismal fonts. Eight also reminds us that there are eight Beatitudes.
The twelve roses are rich in meaning. Roses are considered the most beautiful of all flowers and are symbols of fragrance and loveliness. The number twelve implies maturity and totality. There are the twelve chosen apostles and the twelve Tribes of Israel. Fruits of the Holy Spirit also number twelve, namely: charity, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, long-suffering, mildness, faith, modesty, continence (self-control) and chastity. The Book of Revelation is filled with imagery around this number. It shows continuity of the new with the old. There are the twelve stars, the twelve gates, the twelve angels, the twelve seated figures and the twelve names. The heavenly Jerusalem will be twelve furlongs on all sides with twelve jeweled foundations with twelve gates of twelve pearls.
An important feature in the stained glass window is the river of water depicting the sacrament of Baptism. It is through water and the Word of God that we die to sin and rise sanctified to life everlasting in Christ. Baptism is the basis of the whole Christian life, the gateway to life in the Spirit, and the door that gives access to the other sacraments.
Through Baptism we are freed from sin, reborn as children of God, become members of Christ, incorporated into the Church and made sharers in her mission. C.C.C. #1213.
Eucharist is depicted by the four bunches of grapes, the one cup, the three heads of wheat and the one loaf of bread. The number one always shows exclusiveness, primacy and excellence, We are reminded of the oneness of God’s nature; the one divine person in Christ, the one true Church founded by Christ, one mortal life, one baptism, one death and one judgement.
There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all (Eph.4: 4-6.)
The holy Eucharist is the source and summit of Christian life. At the heart of the Eucharistic celebration are the bread and wine which by the words of Christ and the invocation of the Holy Spirit become Christ’s Body and Blood, Bread is the sustenance of life, a symbol of joy, togetherness, health, and achievement. It is made up of broken kernels of wheat that was crushed in their individuality, baked in fire to become that bread. Wine is the spirit of joy and festivity. It is a festive drink, the drink of celebration even as it is crushed grapes. It represents the blood of Jesus and the blood and suffering of all that is crushed in our world and in our lives. Throughout the gospels, Jesus takes a loaf of bread, blesses it, breaks it and feeds the people, At the Lord’s Supper, he took the bread, blessed it, broke it, and said:
“Take this, all of you, and eat it: this is my body, which will be given up for you.”
When supper was ended, he took the cup. Again he gave you thanks and praise, gave the cup to his disciples, and said:
“Take this, all of you, and drink from it: this is the cup of my blood. Do this in memory of me.”
The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a sharing in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a sharing in the body of Christ? Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread. 1 Cor. 10: 16-17
Four, a common religious number, reminds us that four evangelists wrote the Gospels; the heavenly City of God is perfectly square, with all its dimensions a multiple of four. There are four cardinal virtues: prudence, justice, temperance and fortitude. Four also signifies universality – four winds and the four comers of the world.
The number three signifies the Blessed Trinity and the three theological virtues: faith, hope and charity.
There are numerous other scriptural passages that could be applied to Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist, the sacraments of Initiation. The stained glass windows also depict Jesus, the Bread of Life (John 6) and Jesus. the Resurrection and Life (John 11).
The green background is a symbol of our faith and signifies hope. The red border is a reminder of the Holy Spirit’s constant outpouring of the fire of love. Hopefully this brief outline will bring you to a greater appreciation of the beauty and theological aspect of the windows.