Immaculate Conception Catholic Parish, established 1913
Written and/or compiled by the Art and Spiritual Tour Committee. Photographs contributed by Dan Bernskoetter
All Spiritual Information for the Art and Spiritual Tour not specific to Immaculate Conception is taken from the EWTN website unless otherwise noted. As we continue to do research for the Art and Spiritual Tour we are open to documented information from our parishioners. We welcome your input for consideration; please contact Patty Skain.
Immaculate Conception Parish began in 1913. The original church was in a small wooden structure that existed on the land obtained for the parish. The first official parish church was held in a multipurpose building now known as Pleus Hall. In 1922, the building of the existing church was begun.
The present Immaculate Conception church is built in a Romanesque style. This term was used to designate the architecture's similarity to that of the Romans. Its' style was not copied from the Roman Temples, due to the lack of space for the faithful to gather. Rather the form was taken from basilica which was used in market places, government buildings, gathering places, etc.
Elements of this architecture are the blocky appearance, round or barrel vaulted ceiling, the rounded arches, formed by free standing columns, piers (square columns) or pilasters (piers attached to the wall.)
The ceiling of Immaculate Conception church is a barrel vault. The vaulted ceiling has six wide masonry ribs that extend down to the side walls and form a corbel that resembles a stylized column capitol on both sides. A triumphal arch formation separates the nave or main body of the church from the sanctuary. The rou
nded edges of the ribs in the vaulted ceiling are reemphasized in the rounded edges of the arches in the triumphal arch. (photo by Dan Bernskoetter)
The triumphal arch was an ornamental version of a walled city gate, moved to the center of the city to be used in the triumphal procession. The Arch
of Constantine, left, was built to commemorate Constantine I's victory over Maxentius at the Battle of Milvian Bridge on October 28, 312.The arch design in the sanctuary area of our church even has piers or pilasters with the capitals of the Corinthian order as they were on the ancient triumphal arch. As our priests process to the front of church and through the “triumphal arch,” we should be mindful of the triumph of Christ’s victory over death.
As you look around the church, you see the arch and column design repeated again and again. You see the arch formed by the shape of the beautiful windows. Arches and columns are also contained within the window design and in the Stations of the Cross.
(photos by Dan Bernskoetter)
Information on this page written and/or compiled by the Art and Spiritual Tour Committee: Patty Skain, contact
photography by Dan Bernskoetter
There are several decorative elements to mention. The first would be the rosettes that are present in several places in the church. They are on the narrow ceiling area above the nave windows.They are in the center of all the ceiling ribs in the barrel vaulted ceiling, they are at the ends of the cross beams on the large crucifix. They are on the tops of the Stations of the Cross and even below the columns of those Stations. Even the remains of the old pulley system (for the chandeliers) is painted to resemble the rosettes when viewed from directly below them. These rosettes or roses are a sign of Mary and our Parish’s dedication to Mary.
Five Wounds of Christ
The second element to notice is the five thorns above the arched windows, outlined in red. These five thorns represent the five wounds of Jesus. Traditionally these five wounds are; his two hands, his two feet and his side.
The devotion to and contemplation of the wounds of Jesus have been around for centuries. Saints who have suffered the stigmata, miraculous appearance of wounds on their bodies in the places of Jesus’ wounds, have often practiced this devotion and contemplation.
Interest in the devotion to the wounds of Jesus has grown in the last decades due to the visions and writings of Sr. Faustina. In the 1930 Sr. Faustina experienced visions of our Lord Jesus Christ. The Feast of Divine Mercy results from those visions and her writings.
Ave Maria Gratia Plena
Also to be noticed is the Latin phrase on the choir loft half-wall. “Ave Maria
Gratia Plena” or Hail Mary Full of Grace. Ag
ain this phrase, from the Annunciation narrative in the Gospel of Luke shows the dedication of Immaculate Conception to Mary,our Mother and the place of honor that we give her.
Another decorative element incorporated in the last renovation in 2000 was the use of the fleur-de-lis. The fleur-de-lis is a stylized lily (in French, fleur means flower, and lis means lily) or iris that is used as a decorative design or symbol. It may be "at one and the same time, religious, political, dynastic, artistic, emblematic, and symbolic", especially in French heraldry. The fleur-de-lis is widely recognized as a symbol of kings, queens, and nobility. While the fleur-de-lis has appeared on countless European coat of arms and flags over the centuries, it is particularly associated with the French monarchy in an historical context, and continues to appear in the arms of the King of Spain and the Grand Duke of Luxembourg and members of the House of Bourbon. It remains an enduring symbol of France that appears on French postage stamps, although it has never been adopted officially by any of the French republics. According to French historian Georges Duby, the three petals represent the medieval social classes: those who worked, those who fought, and those who prayed. As you look around the interior of the church you see the fleur-de-lis used in the quatrefoil decorations, see the discussion below on the quatrefoil. You also see them used to make a type of Greek cross above the altar and the main archway. They are used on the lower corners down the side walls of the nave above the chair rail. They are also used in the painted frames around the medallions of Mary, in the decorative painting at the bottoms of the ceiling ribs and surrounding the rosettes in the ceiling. There is even an kind of fleur-de-lis design in the light fixtures in the nave of the church. And of course the most obvious example of the fleur-de-lis in our church is the wall painting in the votive candle niche flanking either side of the Mary of the Immaculate Conception statue. In the Middle Ages the symbols of lily and fleur-de-lis overlapped considerably in Christian religious art. Michel Pastoureau, the historian, says that until about 1300 they were found in depictions of Jesus, but gradually they took on Marian symbolism and were associated with the Song of Solomon's "lily among thorns" (lilium inter spinas), understood as a reference to Mary. Other scripture and religious literature in which the lily symbolizes purity and chastity also helped establish the flower as an iconographic attribute of the Virgin. It was also believed that the fleur-de-lis represented the Holy Trinity.
In medieval England, from the mid-12th century, a noblewoman's seal often showed the lady with a fleur-de-lis, drawing on the Marian connotations of "female virtue and spirituality". Images of Mary holding the flower first appeared in the 11th century on coins issued by cathedrals dedicated to her, and next on the seals of cathedral chapters starting with Notre Dame de Paris in 1146. A standard portrayal was of Mary carrying the flower in her right hand, just as she is shown in that church's Virgin of Paris statue (with lily), and in the centre of the stained glass rose window (with fleur-de-lis sceptre) above its main entrance. The flowers may be "simple fleurons, sometimes garden lilies, sometimes genuine heraldic fleurs-de-lis". As attributes of the Madonna, they are often seen in pictures of the Annunciation, notably in those of Sandro Botticelli and Filippo Lippi. Lippi also uses both flowers in other related contexts: for instance, in his Madonna in the Forest. The three petals of the heraldic design reflect a widespread association with the Holy Trinity, with the band on the bottom symbolizing Mary. The tradition says that without Mary you can not understand the Trinity since it was she who bore The Son. A tradition going back to 14th century France] added onto the earlier belief that they also represented faith, wisdom and chivalry. "Flower of light" symbolism has sometimes been understood from the archaic variant fleur-de-luce (see Latin lux, luc- = "light"), but the Oxford English Dictionary suggests this arose from the spelling, not from the etymology. In this church where we participate in the sacrifice of our God, the King of the universe and honor Mary, his mother, how fitting it is that we use this kingly symbol.
(Information on the Fleur-de-lis from Wikipedia)
In art, architecture and traditional Christian symbolism, the quatrefoil is a type of decorative framework consisting of a symmetrical shape which forms the overall outline of four partially overlapping circles of the same diameter. The word quatrefoil means “four leaves”, from Latin quattuor, four, plus folium, a leaf.) and applies to general four-lobed shapes in various contexts. The quatrefoil enjoyed its peak popularity during the Gothic and Renaissance eras. It is most commonly found as tracery, mainly in Gothic architecture, where a quatrefoil can often be seen at the top of a Gothic arch, sometimes filled with stained glass.
There are several examples of the quatrefoil incorporated during the last renovation of 2013. The quatrefoil in Immaculate Conception is most appropriately called the barbed quatrefoil because of the fleur-de-lis that form the barb at the junctures of the circles. See the discussion on the fleur-de-lis above. The barbed quatrefoil is used on the vaulted ceiling in the sections between the ribs where th
ere originally were additional medallions of the blessed mother. It is also used up in the front of the church on the ceiling above the Good Shepherd and Blessed Mother windows.
The barbed quatrefoil is a quatrefoil pierced at the angles by the points of an inscribed square, which gives an image akin to an heraldic rose, which is termed "barbed" due to the stylized quatrefoil appears on the south transept buttresses of 1260 in the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris. Similarly the trefoil is often combined with an equilateral triangle to form a barbed thorns (or in the case of our church, the fleur-de-lis) which project at the intersection of each pair of petals. The earliest example of the barbed trefoil. Among the most famous works of art employing the barbed quatrefoil are the bronze panels on the South Doors of the Baptistery in Florence (1330–6) by Andrea Pisano, the bronze panels of the North Doors of the Baptistery in Florence by Lorenzo Ghiberti, and also Filippo Brunelleschi's competition entry for the same doors, The Sacrifice of Isaac) as well as "Head of an Angel" by Piero della Francesca.
(Information on the Quatrefoil from Wikipedia)
Diamonds and Floral Elements
While it might be considered a minor detail, the use of diamonds in the stained glass windows, some of the plant stands, the doors of the sacristy, the reredos and the front side doors exiting the church also help to pull all the decorative aspects of the church together.
Similarly the use of floral design in the leafs in the stain glass windows, in the Stations of the Cross around the rosettes at the top and even in the light fixtures serve a similar purpose.
When we see these repeated designs, we may not recognize them or where we have seen them, but we will have an impression of cohesion in the design of our church.
The Tabernacle in Catholic Churches houses the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. It is a resting Place for our God, similar to the Tabernacle of the Israelites in their temple. On the doors of our Tabernacle is a relief depicting a cross in the center and flanked by angels on either side. The angel on the right holds the Body of Christ in the Eucharistic Host. The angel on the left holds the chalice containing the Precious Blood. This represents the teaching that all the sacraments flow from Christ’s sacrifice on the Cross and more specifically from the water and blood that flowed from his side.
Our Lord explained this image to Sr. Faustina: "The pale ray stands for the Water which makes souls righteous; the red ray stands for the Blood which is the life of souls. These two rays issued forth from the depths of My most tender Mercy at that time when My agonizing Heart was opened by a lance on the Cross. ... Fortunate is the one who will dwell in their shelter, for the just hand of God shall not lay hold of him."
John 19:34, read on Good Friday, speaks of the blood and water flowing from the pierced side of Jesus. The Preface for the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus says: "From His wounded side flowed blood and water, the fountain of sacramental life in the Church. To His open heart the Savior invites all men, to draw water in joy from the springs of salvation."
The Fourth Lateran Council (1215) decreed that the Blessed Sacrament be kept in a secure receptacle and placed in a clean, conspicuous place. The Synods of Cologne (1281) and Munster (1279) stipulated that the Blessed Sacrament be kept above the altar, sometimes in tabernacles shaped like doves and suspended by chains. (An example of this type of tabernacle is on exhibit in the medieval collection of the National Gallery of Art.)
Overall, during these times, the Blessed Sacrament was reserved in four possible ways: in a locked cabinet in the sacristy, a custom originating in the early Church; in a cabinet in the wall of the choir area, or in a cabinet called the "Sacrament House," which was constructed like a tower and attached to a wall near the altar; in a "dove" receptacle suspended from the baldachino above the altar; and in a tabernacle on the altar itself or in the reredos of the altar.
In the sixteenth century, the Blessed Sacrament became customarily reserved in a tabernacle that was placed on the altar or part of the reredos. However, only in 1863 did the Sacred Congregation of Rites prohibit the use of suspended doves and sacrament houses.
The liturgical reforms of the Second Vatican Council prompted a "rethinking" of the location of the tabernacle in the church. Two important points must always be kept in mind: First, reverence for the holy Eucharist must be preserved and promoted. The "Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy" reminded us that the holy Eucharist is "a sacrament of love, a sign of unity, a bond of charity, a paschal banquet in which Christ is consumed, the mind is filled with grace and a pledge of future glory is given to us."
Second, the significance of the offering of the Mass itself, where the holy Eucharist is confected, must be preserved and promoted. The "Dogmatic Constitution on the Church" asserted, "Taking part in the Eucharistic sacrifice, the source and summit of the Christian life, they offer the divine victim to God and themselves along with it."
Accordingly, the "Instruction on the Worship of the Eucharistic Mystery" (1967 issued regulations (later incorporated into the new "Code of Canon Law") concerning tabernacles (cf. No. 52-57 and Canons 934 944): The holy Eucharist may be reserved only on one altar or one place in any church, and a vigil lamp must burn at all times to indicate and honor the presence of our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. This tabernacle must be immovable, made of solid and opaque material, and locked to prevent theft or desecration of the Blessed Sacrament. The tabernacle "should be placed in a part of the Church that is prominent, conspicuous, beautifully decorated, and suitable for prayer" (Canon 938).
Here is where some confusion emerges. To promote prayer and devotion, the "Instruction" stated "It is therefore recommended that, as far as possible, the tabernacle be placed in a chapel distinct from the middle or central part of the church, above all in those churches where marriages and funerals take place frequently, and in places which are much visited for their artistic or historical treasures" (No. 53).
For example, in the new Cathedral in St. Louis which has a constant flow of tourists, the Blessed Sacrament is reserved in a beautiful side chapel. This chapel provides a quiet place for the faithful to pray without the distraction of the comings and goings of people viewing the magnificent mosaics.
Moreover, the "Instruction" recommendation does not prohibit having the tabernacle in the center of the church, stating, "the Blessed Sacrament should be reserved in a solid, inviolable tabernacle in the middle of the main altar or on a side altar, but in a truly prominent place" (No. 54). The tabernacle can be located in the "center of the church," perhaps on an elevated area behind the altar so as not to diminish the attention to the Eucharistic sacrifice. The visual alignment of the tabernacle and altar emphasizes best both reverence for the Holy Eucharist and the significance of the sacrifice of the Mass.
From a purely educational perspective, the goodness of having the tabernacle in the body of the church either in the center, or at least to the side, is that it fosters devotion to the Blessed Sacrament. For instance, people genuflect in reverence to the Blessed Sacrament. Since the one day most parishioners visit their church is on Sunday, having the tabernacle visible in a prominent and conspicuous location makes them aware of the Eucharistic presence of our Lord. The people are more mindful that church itself is the "House of God" and a sacred space, not just a meeting house. In an age of doubt and disbelief, we need to do all we can to promote and foster devotion to our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament.
The Immaculate Conception Altar was designed and built by Fr. Tim Tatro with some specifications from Msgr. Higley, at the time of the last renovation in 2000 in preparation for the Jubilee year. The design of the altar is again the arch and column motif that is found in the interior structure of the church. In fact, the arch design when the altar is viewed from the front is that of the triumphal arch. In addition, the altar contains 12 columns. These refer to the twelve apostles chosen by Jesus to guide His apostolic Church, the Church of the new covenant. And of course, the twelve apostles are to “replace,” if you will, the twelve tribes of Israel under the old covenant.
In addition, the altar also has corbels which appear to hold the weight of the column capitals. This design repeats the corbels below the ribs of the barrel vault of the church on the piers between each arched window.
On the front of the altar is a star pattern surrounding the initials IHS. This is a monogram of the name Jesus Christ.
From the third century the names of our Saviour are sometimes shortened, particularly in Christian inscriptions (IH and XP, for Jesus and Christus). In the next century the "sigla" (chi-rho) occurs not only as an abbreviation but also as a symbol. From the beginning, however, in Christian inscriptions the nomina sacra, or names of Jesus Christ, were shortened by contraction,
thus IC and XC or IHS and XPS for Iesous Christos. These Greek monograms continued to be used in Latin during the Middle Ages. Eventually the right meaning was lost, and erroneous interpretation of IHS led to the faulty orthography "Jhesus". In Latin the learned abbreviation IHC rarely occurs after the Carlovingian era. The monogram became more popular after the twelfth century when St. Bernard insisted much on devotion to the Holy Name of Jesus, and the fourteenth, when the founder of the Jesuati, Blessed John Colombini (d. 1367), usually wore it on his breast. Towards the close of the Middle Ages IHS became a symbol, quite like the chi-rho in the Constantinian period. Sometimes abo
ve the H appears a cross and underneath three nails, while the whole figure is surrounded by rays. IHS became the accepted iconographical characteristic of St. Vincent Ferrer (d. 1419) and of St. Bernardine of Siena (d. 1444). The latter holy missionary, at the end of his sermons, was wont to exhibit this monogram devoutly to his audience, for which some blamed him; he was even called before Martin V. St. Ignatius of Loyola adopted the monogram in his seal as general of the Society of Jesus (1541), and thus it became the emblem of his institute. IHS was sometimes wrongly understood as "Jesus Hominum (or Hierosolymae) Salvator", i.e. Jesus, the Saviour of men (or of Jerusalem=Hierosolyma).
The existence of altars in the Old Testament is well documented. These were used for sacrifice to the Lord. A sacrifice is the offering of a victim by a priest to God alone, and the destruction of it (the victim) in some way to acknowledge that He is the Creator of all things.
By his very nature man wants to adore and thank his Creator. Men, mistaken at times about the nature of the true God, have offered false worship; but they have always recognized the obligation of adoring the Supreme Being. As far back as the history of man is recorded, there is evidence that men acknowledged their dependence on the Supreme Being by offering sacrifices to Him. Before the coming of Christ, sacrifices were offered to God in many different ways. The patriarchs and Jewish priests at the command of God offered fruits, wine, or animals as victims. Cain, for example, offered fruits; Abel offered some sheep of his flock; Melchisedech offered bread and wine. The destruction of these offerings removed them from man's use and thereby signified that God is the Supreme Lord and Master of the entire created universe and that man is wholly dependent upon Him for everything. Sacrifice, therefore, is the most perfect way for man to worship God.
All these different sacrifices of the Old Law were only figures of the sacrifice which Christ was to make of Himself. His offering of Himself on the cross was the greatest sacrifice ever offered to God. All the sacrifices of the Old Law derived their efficacy, or value, from the sacrifice which Christ was to offer on the cross.
The altar in a Catholic church is where the sacrifice of the body and blood of Our Lord is remembered and continued. It is the principle focus of our attention during the Mass. Traditionally the altar contains the relics of saints. This harkens back to the building of churches over the tombs of saints, most notably, St. Peters.
All the dignity of the altar rests on its being the Lord's table. Thus the martyr's body does not bring honor to the altar; rather the altar does honor to the martyr's tomb. For it is altogether proper t
o erect altars over the burial place of martyrs and other saints or to deposit relics beneath altars as a mark of respect and as a symbol of the truth of the sacrifice of its members has its source in the sacrifice of the Head. Thus, 'the triumphant victims come to the
ir rest in the place where Christ is victim: he, however, who suffered for all is on the altar; they who have been redeemed by his sufferings are beneath the altar.' (St. Ambrose). This arrangement would seem to recall in a certain manner the spiritual vision of the Apostle John in the Book of Revelation: 'I saw underneath the altar the souls of all the people who have been killed on account of the word of God, for witnessing to it.' His meaning is that although the saints are rightly called Christ's witnesses, the witness of blood has a special significance that only the relics of martyrs beneath the altar express in its entirety."
Information taken from Catholic Encyclopedia
In the front right corner of the church is a small cabinet which houses the Holy oils that are distributed by the Bishop each year at the Chrism Mass. The three oils are: Oil of the Sick, Oil of the Catechumens, and Oil of Chrism.
Oil is a product of great utility, the symbolic signification of which harmonizes with its natural uses. It serves to sweeten, to strengthen, to render supple; and the Church employs it for these purposes in its rites. The liturgical blessing of oil is very ancient. It is met with in the fourth century in the "Prayer Book of Serapion", and in the Apostolic Constitutions, also in a Syriac document of the fifth or sixth century entitles "Testamentum Domini Nostri Jesu Christi." The aforesaid book of Bishop Serapion (d. c. 362) contains the formula for the blessing of the oil and chrism for those who had just received baptism, which was in those days followed by confirmation in such a manner that the administration of both sacraments constituted a single ceremony. In the same book is found a separate form of blessing for the oil of the sick, for water, and for bread. It is an invocation to Christ to give His creatures power to cure the sick, to purify the soul, to drive away impure spirits, and to wipe out sins. In the Old Testament oil was used for the consecration of priests and kings, also in all great liturgical functions, e.g., sacrifices, legal purifications, and the consecration of altars (Exodus 30:23, 33; 39:27, 29; 11:9, 15; Leviticus 6:15 sq.)
In the primitive Church the oils to be used in the initiation of catechumens were consecrated on Holy Thursday in the Missa Chrismalis. Two different ampullae were used, one containing pure oil, the other oil mixed with balsam. This mixture, was made by the pope himself before the Mass, in the sacristy. During the Mass two clerics of lesser rank stood before the altar holding the ampullae. Towards the end of the Canon the faithful were allowed to make use of themselves (Tertullian, "Ad Scap." iv.), but the same oil also served for extreme unction. The vessels holding it were placed on the railing surrounding the space reserved for the clergy. The deacons brought some of these vessels to the altar to receive that blessing of the pope which we read today in the Gelasian and Gregorian Sacramentaries. The pope continued the mass while the deacons returned the ampullae to the place whence they had brought them, and a certain number of bishops and priests repeated over those which had not been brought to the altar the formula pronounced by the pope. The consecration of the large ampullae to the archdeacon and one of his assistants. The archdeacon presented to the pope the ampulla of perfumed oil, the pontiff breathed on it three times, made the sign of the cross, and recited a prayer which bears a certain resemblance to the Preface of the Mass. The ampulla of pure oil was next presented to the pope, and was consecrated with less solemnity. The consecration and benediction of the holy oils now take place on Holy Thursday at a very solemn ceremony reserved for the bishop. He blesses the oil which is to serve at the anointing of catechumens previous to baptism, next the oil with which the sick are annointed in the Sacrament of Extreme Unction, finally the chrism, which is a mixture of oil and balsam, and which is used in the administration of the Sacrament of Confirmation.
Oil of the sick
The use of oil in Christian antiquity was not, as has been maintained, a medical prescription adopted by the Church. In Apostolic times St. James directed the priests or ancients of the community to pray for the sick man and to anoint him with oil in the name of Jesus (James 5:14). And shortly afterwards, probably in the second century, a gold leaf found at Beyrout, in Syria, contains an exorcism "pronounced in the dwelling of him whom I annointed." This is, after the text of St. James, the earliest evidence of the use of oil accompained by a formula in the administration of a sacrament [see Theophilus of Antioch (d. 181), "Ad Autolyc." I, xii, in P.G. VI, 1042]. The oil of the sick might be blessed not only by priests, but also by laymen of high repute for virtue, and even by women. In the sixth century St. Monegundus on his death-bed blessed oil and salt which were afterwards used for the sick ("Vita S. Monegundi", ix, in "Acta SS. Ord. S. Bened." I, 204; Gregory of Tours, "Vita Patr." xix, 4). A similar instance is met with in the life of St. Radegund (Vita Radeg., I, xxxv). In the West, however, the tendency was early manifested to confine the blessing of the oil of the sick to bishops only; about 730 St. Boniface ordered all priests to have recourse to the bishop (Statut., xxiv). In 744 the tendency was not so pronounced in France, but the Council of Châlons (813) imposed on priests the obligation of anointing the sick with oil blessed by the bishop (can. xlviii). In the East the priests retained the right to consecrate the oil. The custom even became established, and has lasted to the present time, of having the oil blessed in the house of the sick person, or in the church, by a priest, or, if possible, by seven priests.
Oil of catechumens
During the time of the catechumenate those who were about to become Christians received one or more anointings with holy oil. The oil used on this occasion was that which had received the blessing mentioned in the Apostolic Constitutions (VII, xlii). This anointing of the catechumens is explained by the fact that they were regarded to a certain extent as being possessed by the devil until Christ should enter into them through baptism. The oil of catechumens is also used in the ordination of priests and the coronation of kings and queens.
A mixture of oil of olives and balsam, blessed by a bishop in a special manner and used in the administration of certain sacraments and in the performance of certain ecclesiastical functions. That chrism may serve as valid matter for the Sacrament of Confirmation it must consist of pure oil of olives, and it must be blessed by a bishop, or at least by a priest delegated by the Holy See. These two conditions are certainly necessary for validity; moreover it is probable that there should be an admixture of balsam, and that the blessing of the chrism should be special, in the sense that it ought to be different from that which is given to the oil of the sick or the oil of catechumens. (Cf. Lehmkuhl, Cas. Cons. II, n.102.) If either of the last two conditions is wanting the sacrament will be doubtfully valid. To deal with the subject in a sufficiently exhaustive manner, it will be enough to touch upon (1) the origin and antiquity of chrism; (2) its constituent nature ; (3) its blessing ; and (4) its use and symbolical significance.
The Baptismal Font at Immaculate Conception was constructed at the same time as the other furniture pieces in the renovation of 2000. The IC font is the more traditional version of the Catholic font. This more traditional font is usually a free-standing “pillar” of some type with a basin incorporated into it. In some Catholic churches, recently built or redesigned, a full-immersion fonts have been incorporated. Either way is absolutely correct in practice.
The IC font is topped with a removable statue of Jesus being baptized by John the Baptist. The basin for Holy Water used during the Baptism resides beneath the statue. For convenience, the artist of this topper chose to show water being poured over the head of Jesus when, in reality, Jesus was probably submerged in the water and rose up from the river. This submerging and rising out of the water was seen as a rebirth.
Another attractive element of the IC font is the fact that it is on rollers and can be moved about the church. In past centuries, baptismal fonts or baptisteries were positioned in the front vestibule of the church or even in a completely separate building outside the church. Examples of this can be seen in numerous places in Italy and Europe. A notable example of this is the famous Baptistry in front of the Cathedral in Florence. See that here The tradition in past centuries was to baptize the individual before admission into the church, both spiritual and physical.
Medallions of Mary
The medallions in the nave ceiling show Mary in various activities or well-known images. Originally these medallions were in each section between the ribs in the ceiling. After several renovations, some of those paintings have been lost.
Honoring our Mother Mary in her different roles and titles has been a tradition in the Catholic Church and specifically at Immaculate Conception Parish. The largest women’s group at Immaculate Conception, the Immaculata Club, has chapters that are all named for Mary in one of her different roles or titles.
The first medallion on the right side of the church is clearly a depiction of the nativity with Mary and the baby Jesus lying in the manger. The depiction of the nativity scene was made popular by St. Francis of Assis and does not appear in art prior to this time in any significant way. Prior to the time of St. Francis most art depicting Mary and the Christ Child, was that of the Theotokas or Mother of God figure. A version of that is directly opposite this medallion on the east side of the church. The medallion to the right of the Nativity shows Mary with her arms extended down and her hands open. This pose is traditionally associated with Our Lady of Grace or Mary of the Miraculous Medal. For More information on this go to the section on Statues and see Our Lady of Grace Statue.The third medallion on the west side of the church most likely shows an image of Mary, Our Lady of Fatima. Our Lady of Fatima is traditionally shown with a crown on her head and a rosary hanging from her hand or arm. Throughout the Old Testament God, in His great mercy, chose prophets to call His people back to Him. In recent times God is sending His Mother. One of the apparitions of the Mother of God in this century took place in 1917 at Fatima, a little village in Portugal. Our Lady came there to warn us of the harm we would inflict upon ourselves as a result of our sins: wars, famines, plagues, persecution of the Church and the loss of many souls in Hell. God, in His great mercy, wished to save us from these miseries through the Immaculate Heart of His Mother. Our Heavenly Mother revealed at Fatima a plan of hope for this world which continues to plunge headlong toward its own destruction. Read more
Moving to the east side of the church, the medallion of Mary adjacent to the choir loft depicts Mary in a heavenly realm with a crown and angels around her. The is most likely a depiction of Mary as Queen of Heaven and Earth.
The beginning of the concept that Mary is a Queen is found in the annunciation narrative. For the angel tells her that her Son will be King over the house of Jacob forever. So she, His Mother, would be a Queen.
The Fathers of the Church soon picked up these implications. A text probably coming from Origen (died c. 254: cf. Marian Studies 4, 1953, 87) gives her the title domina, the feminine form of Latin dominus, Lord. That same title also appears in many other early writers, e.g. , St. Ephrem, St. Jerome, St. Peter Chrysologus (cf. Marian Studies 4. 87-91). The word "Queen" appears about the sixth century, and is common thereafter (Marian Studies, 4, 91-94).
The titles "king" and "queen" are often used loosely, for those beings that excel in some way. Thus we call the lion the king of beasts, the rose the queen of flowers. Surely Our Lady deserves the title richly for such reasons. But there is much more.
Some inadequate reasons have been suggested: She is the daughter of David. But not every child of a king becomes a king or queen. Others have pointed out that she was free from original sin. Then, since Adam and Eve had a dominion over all things (Genesis 1. 26) she should have similar dominion. But the problem is that the royalty of Adam and Eve was largely metaphorical.
The solidly theological reasons for her title of Queen are expressed splendidly by Pius XII, in his Radiomessage to Fatima, Bendito seja (AAS 38. 266): "He, the Son of God, reflects on His heavenly Mother the glory, the majesty and the dominion of His kingship, for, having been associated to the King of Martyrs in the unspeakable work of human Redemption as Mother and cooperator, she remains forever associated to Him, with a practically unlimited power, in the distribution of the graces which flow from the Redemption. Jesus is King throughout all eternity by nature and by right of conquest: through Him, with Him, and subordinate to Him, Mary is Queen by grace, by divine relationship, by right of conquest, and by singular choice [of the Father]. And her kingdom is as vast as that of her Son and God, since nothing is excluded from her dominion."
We notice that there are two titles for the kingship of Christ: divine nature, and "right of conquest", i.e., the Redemption. She is Queen "through Him, with Him, and subordinate to Him." The qualifications are obvious, and need no explanation. Her Queenship is basically a sharing in the royalty of her Son. We do not think of two powers, one infinite, the other finite. No, she and her Son are inseparable, and operate as a unit.
Of the four titles Pius XII gave for her Queenship, we notice that two are closely parallel to those of Jesus:
(1) He is king by nature, as God; she is Queen by "divine relationship" that is, by being the Mother of God. In fact her relation to her Son is greater than that of ordinary Mothers of Kings. For she is the Mother of Him who is King by very nature, from all eternity, and the relationship is exclusive, for He had no human father. Still further, the ordinary queen-mother gives birth to a child who later will become king. The son of Mary is, as we said, eternally king, by His very nature. (2) He is king by right of conquest. She too is Queen by right of conquest. We already saw that this title for Him means that He redeemed us from the captivity of satan. She shared in the struggle and victory. Since the Pope expressed her dependence on Him in a threefold way--something we would have known anyway--then it is clear that he did not have in mind any other restriction which he did not express. So, maintaining this subordination, "by right of conquest" means the same for her as it does for Him.
The other two titles: (3) She is Queen by grace. She is full of grace, the highest in the category of grace besides her Son. (4) She is Queen by singular choice of the Father. A mere human can become King or Queen by choice of the people. How much greater a title is the choice of the Father Himself!
Pius XII added that "nothing is excluded from her dominion." As Mediatrix of all graces, who shared in earning all graces, she is, as Benedict XV said, "Suppliant omnipotence": she, united with her Son, can obtain by her intercession anything that the all-powerful God can do by His own inherent power.
In the Old Testament, under some Davidic kings, the gebirah, the "Great Lady", usually the Mother of the King, held great power as advocate with the king. Cf. 1 Kings 2:20, where Solomon said to his Mother Bathsheba, seated on a throne at his right: "Make your request, Mother, for I will not refuse you." Here is a sort of type of Our Lady. Read More
Moving to the right from that medallion we have a painting of a youthful Mary with her hair uncovered. She has a crown of stars around her head. This image most closely resembles Mary as the Immaculate Conception. Older versions of the Immaculate Conception that predate the visions of Mary at Lourdes traditionally show her as in a heavenly realm, surrounded by angels and with no mantle or head covering. For more information on Immaculate Conception go to the Statues section of this tour.
The last medallion shows Mary as Theotokas or Mother of God. As noted previously (Nativity medallion) prior to the time of St. Francis, when the Nativity scene was made popular by St. Francis, this image of Mary and the Christ child was the one most often produced. The image always shows Mary as holding the Christ Child on her lap. While other images of Mary also show her with the Christ child in her lap, i.e. Mother of Perpetual Help, etc., this image usually shows Mary and the Christ child looking out at the viewer in a stately pose. Among the many titles appropriately applied to Mary by the Church, Mother of God is one such singular and honorable title. This English title follows upon what was solemnly declared at the Council of Ephesus (431 AD), wherein Mary was given the title “Theotokos” (God bearer). The word “Theo” means God and the word “tokos” means to bring forth. Hence, the title is literally understood as “The One Who Brought Forth God.” Notice that the Church does not restrict this title to the humanity of Christ. Had the Church wanted such a limited application of the motherhood of Mary, such a title would no doubt have been applied and now be the norm. But the Church fully intended what sounds to many so incredible: that Mary is the Mother of God. This title is based upon an essential theological principle and not simply by nature. This is not to suggest that she as a creature is the biological mother of God in His divine Essence but follows upon the fact that she was and is the true mother of the humanity of Christ and what can be said of one aspect of Christ can be affirmed of Christ as an individual. To fail to acknowledge this has dire consequences, for then we could not say that God suffered and died for, in which case we would remain unredeemed. In short, the Church affirmed that Mary is the Mother of God qua God, in the qualified sense that she is creature and God is an eternal being. And while there is no explicit statement in the Bible, "Mary is the Mother of God," we do have the words of Elizabeth in the Visitation, "Why is granted me that the mother of my Lord should come to me?" I suggest that the title "Mother of my Lord" is foundational to what the Church has articulated, "Mother of God." The OT uses "Lord" and "God" interchangeably when referring to God. So the title applied by the Church is biblically based, though also a matter of Tradition.
Choir Loft Medallions
The Medallions in the choir loft depict St. Cecelia on the right side and King David on the left side.
St. Cecilia, from her marked dedication in singing the divine praises (in which, according to her Acts, she often joined instrumental music with vocal), is regarded as patroness of church music and the patron saint of musicians. Cecilia has become a symbol of the conviction that good music is an integral part of liturgy.King David, is generally regarded as the author of most if not all of the psalms. From scripture, King David was known to be a musician and often sang liturgical songs.
When the ark of God was taken from the house of Abinadab to the city of David, the king himself and "all Israel played before the Lord on all manner of instruments made of wood, on harps and lutes and timbrels and cornets and cymbals. II Sam 6:5 King David himself established the order of the music and singing used for sacred worship. This order was restored after the people's return from exile and was observed faithfully until the Divine Redeemer's coming.
One of the most prominent features in the decoration of Immaculate Conception church are the two large angels that flank the main arch. Angels of this type have been a feature of IC for decades. In the renovations done in the early 80s, the angels were removed. The replacement of the angels harkens back to our parish heritage. They and the round angel windows in the sanctuary and even the small angels above the rosary scenes in the nave windows remind us that during the Sacrifice of the Mass, hosts of angels are present and rejoice as Jesus becomes present on the altar. At Mass, in the Preface before the Eucharistic Prayer, we join with all of the angels and saints to sing the hymn of praise, "Holy, holy, holy..." In Eucharistic Prayer 1, the priest says, "Almighty God, we pray that your angel may take this sacrifice to your altar in heaven." Angels see, praise and worship God in His divine presence. Jesus said, "See that you never despise one of these little ones. I assure you, their angels in heaven constantly behold My heavenly Father's face" (Mt 18:10), a passage which also indicates that each of us has a guardian angel. The Book of Revelation describes how the angels surround the throne of God and sing praises (cf. Rev 5:1 1, 7:1 1). Angel comes from the Greek angelos, which means "messenger," which describes their role in interacting in this world. St. Augustine stated that angels were "the mighty ones who do His word, hearkening to the voice of His word." Throughout Sacred Scripture, the angels served as messengers of God, whether delivering an actual message of God's plan of salvation, rendering justice or providing strength and comfort. Both of the painted angels at Immaculate Conception holds a Coat of Arms.
On the left side, the pontifical coat of arms is of Pope John Paul II, who was Pope at the time of the renovation in 2000.
The coat of arms of Pope John Paul II is intended as an act of homage to the central mystery of Christianity, the Redemption.
And so the main representation is a cross, whose form, however, does not correspond to the customary heraldic model. The reason for the unusual placement of the vertical section of the cross is readily apparent if one considers the second object inserted in the coat of arms the large and majestic capital M. This recalls the presence of Mary beneath the cross and her exceptional participation in the Redemption.
The great devotion of Pope John Paul II to the Virgin Mary is manifested in this manner, as it was also expressed in his motto as Cardinal Wojtyla: TOTUS TUUS (All yours). Nor can one forget that within the confines of the ecclesiastical province of Krakow, there is situated the celebrated Marian shrine of Czestochowa, where the Polish people for centuries fostered their filial devotion to the Mother of God.
The angel on the right side, holds the coat of arms or crest of our Bishop, John Gaydos. By tradition, the coat of arms of the bishop of a diocese is joined to that of the diocese and has its roots in medieval heraldry. As viewed from the front, the left side of the coat of arms presents the symbols of the diocese of Jefferson City. The principal symbol, the red Phrygian Cap on the staff, honors President Thomas Jefferson for whom the See City is named. The Phrygian (from the Greek word for 'freeman') Cap was placed on the heads of Greek and Roman freed slaves. During the French Revolution it became known as the mark of a patriot. Thomas Jefferson and other writers of the Declaration of Independence prepared a Seal for the United States of North America which included the Phrygian cap and staff. Although that design was not adopted, it shows the significance that Jefferson placed on these symbols. Above the cap and staff are two blue crescents and a blue cross of the Faith. One of the crescents honors the state of Missouri and the other is for the Blessed Virgin Mary in her title of the Immaculate Conception, patroness of the Catholic Church in the United States. The right side of the crest, as viewed from the front, represents Bishop Gaydos. The motto he has chosen, 'With A Shepherd's Care," is taken from 1 Peter 5:2-3. The shepherd’s staff honors his heritage; “Gaydos” is a Slavic word for shepherd. The eagle is the symbol for St. John the Evangelist, Bishop Gaydos' baptismal patron. On the eagle's chest is a red rose, called the ‘Orsini Rose,’ which represents the North American College in Rome where Bishop Gaydos studied. The Rose also represents the Blessed Virgin Mary and has come to indicate a reverence for all human life.
The information on the Bishop's coat of arms was obtained from the Diocesan office.
Painted above the altar in the ceiling vault is a celestial sky. Approximately 75 gold and silver stars gild the ceiling. The sky has been frequently used in religious art over the centuries. Man has associated God and Spiritual beings as existing in a heavenly realm somewhere “above us.” In particular, when church ceilings began to be heavily painted with scenes in the later Renaissance and Baroque periods, the sky was commonly used as a background for the ceiling paintings. The blue painting in the upper sill of the sanctuary windows can be seen as sky lights looking out to the same celestial sky.
Below the painting of the celestial dome and below the windows in the apse is another painted element. Originally the crown molding that circles the interior of the church adjoining the plaster capitals was carried out through the apse wall as well. This was removed in the renovation that took place in the early 80s. To return the architectural integrity in the design of the church, the crown molding was painted in. This artistic device is called a Trompe-l'œil (French for deceive the eye.) It is an art technique that uses realistic imagery to create the optical illusion that depicted objects existing in three dimensions.
We also see an example of this in the two side arches which contain the sacred heart of Jesus and Mary, Our Lady of Grace. (See statues section) The painting in the arches is done in such a way as to give a three dimensional look to the arches.
One of the most prominent and beautiful features of Immaculate Conception Church is the stained and art glass windows in the sanctuary, “transept area” and nave of the church.
The subject of the windows along the nave are of the Mysteries of the Rosary; Joyful Mysteries on the left and Glorious Mysteries on the right. The depictions and vibrancy of color are truly spectacular. As you reflect on the rosary windows, you will notice the color scheme. You see vibrant purples, reds, greens and blues. These colors were incorporated into the color palate for the walls, ceilings, trimming and carpet when the church was renovated in 2000.
The rosary probably began as a practice by the laity to imitate the monastic Divine Office (Breviary or Liturgy of the Hours), during the course of which the monks daily prayed the 150 Psalms. The laity, many of whom could not read, substituted 50, or even 150, Ave Marias (Hail Marys) for the Psalms. This prayer, at least the first half of it so directly biblically, seems to date from as early as the 2nd century, as ancient graffiti at Christian sites has suggested. Sometimes a cord with knots on it was used to keep an accurate count of the Aves.
The first clear historical reference to the rosary, however, is from the life of St. Dominic (died in 1221), the founder of the Order of Preachers or Dominicans. He preached a form of the rosary in France at the time that the Albigensian heresy was devastating the Faith there. Tradition has it that the Blessed Mother herself asked for the practice as an antidote for heresy and sin.
One of Dominic's future disciples, Alain de Roche, began to establish Rosary Confraternities to promote the praying of the rosary. The form of the rosary we have today is believed to date from his time. Over the centuries the saints and popes have highly recommended the rosary, the greatest prayer in the Church after the Mass and Liturgy of the Hours. Not surprisingly, it's most active promoters have been Dominicans.
Rosary means a crown of roses, a spiritual bouquet given to the Blessed Mother. It is sometimes called the Dominican Rosary, to distinguish it from other rosary-like prayers (e.g. the Franciscan Rosary of the Seven Joys or Franciscan Crown, the Servite Rosary of the Seven Sorrows). It is also, in a general sense, a form of chaplet or corona (crown), of which there are many varieties in the Church. Finally, in English it has been called "Our Lady's Psalter" or "the beads." This last derives from an Old English word for prayers (bede) and to request (biddan or bid).
The rosary has been called the preparation for contemplation and the prayer of saints. While the hands and lips are occupied with the prayers (it can and should be prayed silently when necessary so as not to disturb others), the mind meditates on the mysteries of the Incarnation and Redemption represented by the decades. Meditation is the form of prayer by which the one who prays uses the mind and imagination to consider a truth and uses the will to love it and form resolutions to live it. In this way the heart, mind, and soul of the Christian is formed according to the Gospel examples of the Savior and His First Disciple, His Mother. In God's own time, when this purification of the heart, mind, and soul has advanced sufficiently the Lord may give the grace of contemplative prayer, that special divine insight into the truth which human effort cannot achieve on its own.
Good Shepherd Window
The two major stained glass windows in the transept area of the church, are of the Good Shepherd and the Blessed Mother.
The Good Shepherd window shows Jesus caring for his sheep and reminds us that He is always with us, putting our spiritual lives and our protection before his own life.
The life of a shepherd was very difficult. A flock of sheep never grazed without his presence and therefore, the shepherd was on duty every day of the week. Since the sheep always had to travel in order to find grass to eat, they were never left alone. Sheep could get lost, or they could be attacked by wolves or stolen by robbers.
Sheep were seldom used for regular food by the people of the Holy Land; rather sheep were cultivated for the use of their wool. Thus, the shepherd was with his sheep for a very long time. He gave each one of them a name, and they all knew his voice. In fact, it is said that each shepherd had a peculiar way of speaking to the sheep that allowed them to know that he was their shepherd.
“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” John 10:27
During the warm weather, it was common for the sheep to spend the night away from the village farm. The shepherd watched over them throughout the night. In these circumstances, the sheep stayed in open areas surrounded by a low rock wall. In these areas, the sheep entered and left through an open space which had no door or gate of any kind. During the night, the shepherd would sleep stretched out within the empty space so that no sheep could get out except by crossing over his body. At the same time, a wolf or a robber could not get in, expect by crossing over his body as well. Here we can see a prime example of how the shepherd would give his life for his sheep.
Blessed Mother Window
The Blessed Mother Window shows an image of Mary that is the image of Mary from the Book of Revelation. “A great and wondrous sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head.” Revelation 12:1 Mary appears to be standing in a heavenly realm. The moon is depicted under her feet as described above. She is clothed in the Sun which is depicted by the aura surrounding her. She has stars about her head although only seven of them are visible, one has to imagine the other five. What is the spiritual significance of this woman from Revelation? What does she mean to Catholics? There is a long-standing tradition of interpretation in the Church which views this woman from two perspectives: as representative of God’s People and as the Mother of our Lord. We note that it is common to find a feminine image for the People of God, in the OT and the NT. In this case, we see that the Savior (male child) is born of the Jewish People with the pains of birth (symbolically often used to represent a new age dawning, certainly the case with the coming of the Messiah) and Satan attempts to destroy our Lord, not just as an infant but he continually attempted to thwart his saving mission. But having failed to do this and now that our Lord has ascended to heaven, Satan continues to wage war upon the Church (the Woman). She is given protection by our Lord, as the Church is protected, through a period of persecution. The reference to a period of three and a half years, in various fractions, seems to represent a period of persecution, no matter how long it may be, in fact. This three and a half period may find a past reference in the persecution of Antiochus IV of Syria upon the Jewish people in the 2nd century BC and may find an initial fulfillment in the siege of Jerusalem from 66-70 AD, more specifically, for precisely a three and a half year period. At the primary level of symbolism, we can see this woman as representative of our Blessed Mother, who gave birth to our Lord. But in making this association, we do not apply every aspect or detail to her directly without qualification. For the suffering need not be a matter of physically giving birth, but of the sufferings the Mother of our Lord endured which reach a height as she stood beneath the cross upon which her Son died. Remember, the prophet Simeon had foretold that a sword of sorrow would pierce her heart. This allusion was not a matter of a physical sword but of spiritual and emotional suffering of a Mother, which is also physical. But many non- Catholics will not accept deeper levels of symbols, which is often at the spiritual level of interpretation and in light of Tradition and sometimes special revelations, such as Marian apparitions, some of which have been officially approved. The apparent connection between the appearance of the ark of the covenant in chapter eleven and the appearance of this woman in chapter twelve further confirm the association of the Woman with Mary, for she is regarded by the Church as the new Ark of the Covenant, as the first dwelling place of the Incarnate Lord.
We should also note that the Church has chosen the text of the Woman Clothed with the Sun as the first reading for the vigil Mass of the feast of the Assumption. The implication is obvious: this text is to be associated with the Blessed Mother, now in her heavenly splendor.
Finally, we have the words of two popes who comment upon this Woman as an image of the Blessed Mother.
In his encyclical letter “Ad Diem Illum Laetissimum” Pope Pius X wrote:
“A great sign,” thus the Apostle St. John describes a vision divinely sent him, appears in the heavens: “A woman clothed with the sun, and with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars upon her head.” Everyone knows that this woman signified the Virgin Mary, the stainless one who brought forth our head…John therefore saw the Most Holy Mother of God already in eternal happiness, yet travailing in a mysterious childbirth. What birth was it? Surely it was the birth of us who, still in exile, are yet to be generated to the perfect charity of God, and to eternal happiness. And the birth pains show the love and desire with which the Virgin from heaven above watches over us, and strives with unwearying prayer to bring about the fulfillment of the number of the elect.
In his encyclical letter, "The Great Sign," Pope Paul VI wrote:
The great sign which the Apostle John saw in heaven, "a woman clothed with the sun,"(1) is interpreted by the sacred Liturgy,(2) not without foundation, as referring to the most blessed Mary, the mother of all men by the grace of Christ the Redeemer.
In his encyclical letter “Redemptoris Mater” Pope John Paul II wrote:
47. Thanks to this special bond linking the Mother of Christ with the Church, there is further clarified the mystery of that "woman" who, from the first chapters of the Book of Genesis until the Book of Revelation, accompanies the revelation of God's salvific plan for humanity. For Mary, present in the Church as the Mother of the Redeemer, takes part, as a mother, in that monumental struggle; against the powers of darkness"(138) which continues throughout human history. And by her ecclesial identification as the "woman clothed with the sun" (Rev. 12:1),(139) it can be said that "in the Most Holy Virgin the Church has already reached that perfection whereby she exists without spot or wrinkle." Hence, as Christians raise their eyes with faith to Mary in the course of their earthly pilgrimage, they "strive to increase in holiness."(140) Mary, the exalted Daughter of Sion, helps all her children, wherever they may be and whatever their condition, to find in Christ the path to the Father's house.
The two small half-moon windows over the doors to the annex hall and over the votive candles depict the Suffering Jesus on the right side and the Sorrowful Mother on the left side. These windows were placed over the areas that originally held the confessionals. The confessional is now located in the Adoration Chapel. Confession is a sacrament instituted by Jesus Christ in his love and mercy. It is here that we meet the loving Jesus who offers sinners forgiveness for offenses committed against God and neighbor. At the same time, Confession permits sinners to reconcile with the Church, which also is wounded by our sins. The sacrament, as the Catechism of the Catholic Church notes, is known by many names. Sometimes "it is called the sacrament of conversion because it makes sacramentally present Jesus' call to conversion" (1423). But it is also better known as "the sacrament of Penance, since it consecrates the Christian sinner's personal and ecclesial steps of conversion, penance, and satisfaction" (1423). For many of us it still continues to be known as "the sacrament of confession, since the disclosure or confession of sins to a priest is an essential element of this sacrament" (1424). At the same time, the Catechism reminds us that "it is called the sacrament of forgiveness, since by the priest's sacramental absolution God grants the penitent 'pardon and peace'" (1424). Finally, it is also called the sacrament of Reconciliation because it reconciles sinners to God and then to each other (1424). Through this sacrament, we meet Christ in his Church ready and eager to absolve and restore us to new life. The graces of Christ are conferred in the sacraments by means of visible signs - signs that are acts of worship, symbols of the grace given and recognizable gestures through which the Lord bestows his gifts. In the sacrament of Penance, the forgiveness of sins and the restoration of grace are the gifts received through the outward sign, i.e., the extension of hands and words of absolution pronounced by the priest.
The round windows in the sanctuary wall show depictions of angels holding plaques containing images of the implements or symbols of the passion. The most noticeable is the center window as it can be seen from every position in the church. This window shows the crown of thorns and in the center, a pair of dice depicting the casting of lots over the garments of Jesus. The window to the immediate left of center shows an angel with a plaque depicting a hammer and pliers or pincers.
These are the tools that drove the nails into our Lord’s wrists and feet and then also removed them.
Continuing on to the left we see the window with the plaque depicting the whips that were used to scourge Jesus.
To the immediate right of center we see the angel holding the plaque with the spike-like nails of the crucifixion.
And proceeding around to the far right, we see the angel holding the plaque with the spear, sponge and Ladder.
Is it not abundantly appropriate that standing watch over this sanctuary, where on a daily basis we have the ritual of the Mass continuing the paschal sacrifice of our Lord, we have the tools and symbols of that sacrifice?
Choir Loft Windows
The choir loft windows repeat the arch design although there are no columns present in the windows themselves. They repeat the diamond patterns within the windows and the coloring is similar but there are also many variations between these windows and those in the rest of the church. These windows are really quite lovely and unique and often times overlooked when viewing the church. They are a series of smaller arched windows within the larger masonry arches with the center ones topped by a stylized rose window. These windows are framed by lovely wooden panels of perhaps mahogany although the actual type of wood used in the frame is unavailable. At the top of the smaller arched side windows is a round window with a stained glass rosette. None of the other windows in the church have this element although rosettes are featured in multiple places in the church. See that section below. In the center of the larger middle arched window is a type of “rose” window but uniquely set in the same wooden frame of the other choir loft windows. Rose windows are featured in many churches in the past decades as well as for centuries in the larger Cathedrals of Europe. Even though Immaculate Conception’s rose window is very simplistic when compared to those truly exceptional and beautiful windows in Notre Dame and Chartres, it is comforting to know that we share in this artistic element.
The Stations of the Cross differ greatly from church to church. They may be a simple plaque, an elaborate plaque such as the ones at Immaculate Conception or they may be a very simple picture or an elaborate painting. The Stations of the Cross plaques at IC are so fitting for our church as they mirror almost identically the column and arch motif that is contained in our stained and art glass windows and in our interior church structure. Immaculate Conception’s Stations almost appear to be custom made for our church although they are a commercially made design. The only element that is a requirement for a station of the cross, is the cross symbol either depicted alone or incorporated in the design.
The Devotion of the Stations of the Cross
Stations of the Cross, which follow the path of Christ from Pontius Pilate's praetorium to Christ's tomb has been a popular devotion for centuries. In the 16th century, this pathway was officially entitled the "Via Dolorosa" (Sorrowful Way) or simply Way of the Cross or Stations of the Cross.
This devotion has evolved over time. Tradition holds that our Blessed Mother visited daily the scenes of our Lord's passion. After Constantine legalized Christianity in the year 312, this pathway was marked with its important stations. St. Jerome (342-420), living in Bethlehem during the later part of his life, attested to the crowds of pilgrims from various countries who visited those holy places and followed the Way of the Cross.
Interestingly, St. Sylvia, in her "Peregrination ad loca sancta" (380), in which she described in great detail various religious practices, did not mention a particular practice or set of prayers for following the stations; however, this omission does not entail that pilgrims did not in fact follow the Way of the Cross.
Actually, the devotion continued to grow in popularity. In the fifth century, an interest developed in the Church to "reproduce" the holy places in other areas so pilgrims who could not actually travel to the Holy Land could do so in a devotional, spiritual way in their hearts. For instance, St. Petronius, Bishop of Bologna, constructed a group of chapels at the monastery of San Stefano, which depicted the more important shrines of the Holy Land, including several of the stations. (The same notion inspired the building of the Franciscan Monastery in Washington, where one can visit and see reproductions of the Bethlehem Chapel, the tomb of our Lord, and other important shrines of the Holy Land.)
In 1342, the Franciscans were appointed as guardians of the shrines of the Holy Land. The faithful received indulgences for praying at the following stations: At Pilate's house, where Christ met His mother, where He spoke to the women, where He met Simon of Cyrene, where the soldiers stripped Him of His garments, where He was nailed to the cross, and at His tomb.
William Wey, an English pilgrim, visited the Holy Land in 1462, and is credited with the term "stations." He described the manner in which a pilgrim followed the steps of Christ. Prior to this time, the path usually followed the reverse course of ours today—moving from Mount Calvary to Pilate's house. At this time, the reverse—going from Pilate's house to Calvary—seems to have taken hold.
When the Moslem Turks blocked the access to the Holy Land, reproductions of the stations were erected at popular spiritual centers, including the Dominican Friary at Cordova and Poor Clare Convent of Messina (early 1400s); Nuremberg (1468); Louvain (1505); Bamberg, Fribourg and Rhodes (1507); and Antwerp 1520). Many of these stations were reproduced by renowned artists and are considered masterpieces today. By 1587, Zuallardo reported that the Moslems forbade anyone "to make any halt, nor to pay veneration to [the stations] with uncovered head, nor to make any other demonstration," basically suppressing this devotion in the Holy Land. Nevertheless, the devotion continued to grow in popularity in Europe.
At this time, the number of the stations varied. William Wey's account has 14 stations, but only five correspond to our own. Some versions included the house of Dives (the rich man in the Lazarus story), the city gate through which Christ passed, and the houses of Herod and Simon the Pharisee. In 1584 a book written by Adrichomius entitled, Jerusalem "sicut Christi Tempore floruit," gives 12 stations which match those in our present version. This book was translated into several languages and circulated widely. In the 16th century, devotional books appeared especially in the Low Countries, which had 14 stations with prayers for each one.
At the end of the 17th century, the erection of stations in churches became more popular. In 1686, Pope Innocent XI, realizing that few people could travel to the Holy Land due to the Moslem oppression, granted the right to erect stations in all of their churches and that the same indulgences would be given to the Franciscans and those affiliated with them for practicing the devotion as if on an actual pilgrimage. Pope Benedict XIII extended these indulgences to all of the faithful in 1726.
Five years later, Pope Clement XII permitted stations to be created in all churches and fixed the number at 14. In 1742, Pope Benedict XIV exhorted all priests to enrich their churches with the Way of the Cross, which must include 14 crosses and are usually accompanied with pictures or images of each particular station. The popularity of the devotion was also encouraged by preachers like St. Leonard Casanova (1676-1751) of Porto Maurizio, Italy, who reportedly erected over 600 sets of stations throughout Italy.
To date, there are 14 traditional stations: Pilate condemns Christ to death; Jesus carries the cross; the first fall; Jesus meets His Blessed Mother; Simon of Cyrene helps to carry the cross; Veronica wipes the face of Jesus; the second fall; Jesus speaks to the women of Jerusalem; the third fall; Jesus is stripped of His garments; Jesus is nailed to the cross; Jesus dies on the cross; Jesus is taken down from the cross; and Jesus is laid in the tomb.
Because of the intrinsic relationship between the passion and death of our Lord with His resurrection, several of the devotional booklets now include a 15th station, which commemorates the Resurrection. A plenary indulgence is granted for those who piously exercise the Way of the Cross, actually moving from station to station where they are legitimately erected and while mediating on the passion and death of our Lord ("Enchiridion of Indulgences," No. 63).
Those who are impeded from visiting a church may gain the same indulgence by piously reading and meditating on the passion and death of our Lord for one-half hour. The continued importance of the stations in the devotional life of Catholics is attested by both Pope Paul VI, who approved a Gospel-based version of the stations in 1975, and Pope John Paul II, who has also written his own version.
Of prominent importance in Catholic Church interiors is the Crucifix. There should be a crucifix on or near the altar, clearly visible to all, in order for Mass to be celebrated.
Our crucifix, icons and other articles are examples of what we call sacramentals. According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, sacramentals are sacred signs instituted by the Church to prepare us to receive the fruit of the sacraments and to sanctify different circumstances of our lives (no. 1677).
Since the Catholic Church is where the sacrifice of the Mass takes place, the same sacrifice that took place on the cross, it is supremely appropriate that the Crucifix have a place of prominence in every Catholic Church. This is distinctly different from churches of other christian denominations where bare crosses are often depicted.
At Immaculate Conception, as with many Catholic churches, the large Crucifix is part of a grouping including the figures of the Virgin Mary and the Apostle John. Along with Mary Magdalen, they are the most prominent disciples mentioned by name in the Bible as being at the foot of the cross.
In older churches the Crucifix and even multiple statues were often part of what was called an altar screen or Reredos that covered the back wall of most of the sanctuary. The structure in the sanctuary at IC can be viewed as a more modern interpretation of the Reredos. Recently, the Tabernacle, containing the Body and Blood of Our Lord was moved from the right side arch and returned to the center of the church. It has become part of this modern Reredos. For more on the Tabernacle go to go to the Furnishings section of the website. The figure of Christ on the cross and the statues of Mary and John are from the original Reredos at IC and were restored and painted at the time of the renovation in 2000. The two statues in the front of church in the left and right arches are new to the parish and were installed in the renovation of 2013.
Our Lady of Grace
The statue on the left of the altar is that of Our Lady of Grace.
The most popular image of Our Lady of Grace shows the Blessed Virgin standing on a snake atop a globe with her arms open and held downward. This is the Virgin as she appeared as the Immaculata to Saint Catherine Laboure in the Chapel of the Rue du Bac, Paris in the year 1830. On November 27, the Virgin Mother showed St. Catherine the design of a medal which would remind people of the love and protection that Our Lady continually offers to God's children.
In the image Mary stands on a globe, the world. Around her feet a twisted serpent, the devil, struggles for mastery. It is conflict between good and evil. Satan’s is a world of darkness and disgrace; Mary’s is a world of light and grace. But hers is the victory won by Christ—the light of the world. So we see the light and grace of Christ flowing from her hands; and those who choose grace rather than darkness turn to her for help: “pray for us who have recourse to thee.”
The title Lady of Grace predates the vision of St. Catherine Laboure and is of French origin. The title corresponds to a previous miraculous image. The image represents mother and child in tender embrace (eleousa style), and is an icon of italo-byzantine origin which found its way from Rome to Cambrai, France in 1440. It is here that the icon received the title "Notre Dame de Grâce" and was and still is venerated as patroness of the city of Cambrai, also called "Cité-Notre Dame" (Town of Our Lady). Attributed to Saint Lucas, the icon of modest dimensions (35.7 cm x 25.7 cm) was crowned in 1894, and is annually carried in procession through the streets of Cambrai on the day before the Assumption (August 15). Our Lady of Grace has been witness to many historical events, such as the so called "Paix des Dames" 1529 which put an end to the war between France and Spain. The image/title of Our Lady of Grace is venerated in many countries throughout the world.
In the in the side arch to the right of the altar is the statue of St. Joseph with the Child Jesus. This image of St. Joseph traditionally portrays St. Joseph as the guardian of the Holy Family and of the Christ Child in particular.
Matthew records four dreams in which Joseph is supernaturally instructed before and after the birth and early years of Jesus. In the first dream, an angel confirms to Joseph that Mary is with child, conceived by the Holy Spirit, that she will bear a son to be named Jesus. That He will save His people from their sins; and Joseph should therefore not be reluctant to marry her. In the second dream, an angel tells Joseph to take Mary and Jesus to Egypt (from Bethlehem) and remain until the angel instructs further because Herod is seeking to kill Jesus. In Joseph's third dream an angel instructs Joseph to return his family to Israel, implying that Herod is dead. However, Joseph hears that Herod's son Archelaus reigns over Judea and he is afraid to continue the journey. In the fourth dream, God Himself warns Joseph to avoid returning to Judea (Bethlehem.) Joseph settles Mary and Jesus in the region of Galilee in Nazareth.
These events, told in scripture, establish St. Joseph as the earthly protector of Mary and Jesus through the actions of God.
The statue in the rear of the church on the right side is of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
Devotion to the Sacred Heart, as we know it, began about the year 1672. On repeated occasions, Jesus appeared to Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque, a Visitation nun, in France, and during these apparitions He explained to her the devotion to His Sacred Heart as He wanted people to practice it. He asked to be honored in the symbol of His Heart of flesh; he asked for acts of reparation, for frequent Communion, Communion on the First Friday of the month, and the keeping of the Holy Hour.
When the Catholic Church approved the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, she did not base her action only on the visions of Saint Margaret Mary. The Church approved the devotion on its own merits. There is only one Person in Jesus, and that Person was at the same time God and Man. His Heart, too, is Divine -- it is the Heart of God.
There are two things that must always be found together in the devotion to the Sacred Heart: Christ's Heart of flesh and Christ's love for us. True devotion to the Sacred Heart means devotion to the Divine Heart of Christ insofar as His Heart represents and recalls His love for us.
In honoring the Heart of Christ, our homage lingers on the Person of Jesus in the fullness of His love. This love of Christ for us was the moving force of all he did and suffered for us -- in Nazareth, on the Cross, in giving Himself in the Blessed Sacrament, in His teaching and healing, in His praying and working. When we speak of the Sacred Heart, we mean Jesus showing us His Heart, Jesus all love for us and all lovable.
Jesus Christ is the incarnation of God's infinite love. The Human Nature which the Son of God took upon Himself was filled with love and kindness that has never found an equal. He is the perfect model of love of God and neighbor.
Every day of His life was filled with repeated proofs of "Christ's love that surpasses all knowledge" (Eph 3:19). Jesus handed down for all time the fundamental feature of His character: "Take My yoke upon your shoulders and learn from Me, for I am meek and humble of Heart" (Mt 11:29). He invited all, refusing none, surprising friends and rivals by His unconditional generosity.
The meaning of love in the life of Jesus was especially evident in His sufferings. Out of love for His Father He willed to undergo the death of the Cross. "The world must know that I love the Father and do just as the Father has commanded Me" (Jn 14:31).
The love that Jesus bore toward us also urged Him to undergo the death of the Cross. At the Last Supper, He said, "There is no greater love than to lay down one's life for one's friends" (Jn 15:13)
The Heart of Jesus never ceases to love us in heaven. He sanctifies us through the Sacraments. These are inexhaustible fountains of grace and holiness which have their source in the boundless ocean of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
Much of the information following on St. Joseph and St. Ann from Wikipedia.
St Ann (also known as Anne or Anna, from Hebrew Hannah, meaning "favor" or "grace") of David's house and line, was the mother of the Virgin Mary and grandmother of Jesus Christ, according to Christian tradition. Traditions about Mary's family, childhood, education, and eventual betrothal to Joseph developed very early in the history of the Church. The oldest and most influential source for these is the apocryphal Protevangelium of James, first written in Greek around the middle of the second Century.
Although St. Ann receives little attention in the Western church prior to the late 12th century, dedications to Anne in the Eastern church occur as early as the 6th century. In the Eastern Orthodox Churches and Eastern Catholic Churches, she is revered as Hanna. In the Eastern Orthodox tradition, Hanna, is ascribed the title Forbearer of God, and both the Birth of Mary and the Dedication of Mary to the Temple are celebrated as two of the Twelve Great Feasts.
The relics of St. Ann were brought from the Holy Land to Constantinople in 710 and were kept there in the church of St. Sophia as late as 1333. During the twelfth and thirteenth centuries returning crusaders and pilgrims from the East brought relics of St Ann to a number of churches, including most famously those in Apt, in Provence, Ghent and Chartres. St. Anne's relics have been traditionally preserved and venerated in the many cathedrals and monasteries dedicated to her name. Duren has been the main place of pilgrimage for St Ann since 1506 when Pope Julius II decreed that her relics should be kept there.
The statue of Mary in the rear niche with the votive candles is relatively new to Immaculate Conception and was installed in the renovations of 2013. This statue of Mary depicts her as the Immaculate Conception.
An Overview of The Doctrine
In the Constitution Ineffabilis Deus of 8 December, 1854, Pius IX pronounced and defined that the Blessed Virgin Mary "in the first instance of her conception, by a singular privilege and grace granted by God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ , the Saviour of the human race , was preserved exempt from all stain of original sin.""The Blessed Virgin Mary..."
The subject of this immunity from original sin is the person of Mary at the moment of the creation of her soul and its infusion into her body."...in the first instance of her conception..."
The term conception does not mean the active or generative conception by her parents. Her body was formed in the womb of the mother, and the father had the usual share in its formation. The question does not concern the immaculateness of the generative activity of her parents. Neither does it concern the passive conception absolutely and simply ( conceptio seminis carnis, inchoata ), which, according to the order of nature, precedes the infusion of the rational soul. The person is truly conceived when the soul is created and infused into the body. Mary was preserved exempt from all stain of original sin at the first moment of her animation, and sanctifying grace was given to her before sin could have taken effect in her soul."...was preserved exempt from all stain of original sin..."
The formal active essence of original sin was not removed from her soul, as it is removed from others by baptism ; it was excluded , it never was in her soul. Simultaneously with the exclusion of sin. The state of original sanctity, innocence, and justice, as opposed to original sin, was conferred upon her, by which gift every stain and fault, all depraved emotions, passions, and debilities, essentially pertaining to original sin, were excluded. But she was not made exempt from the temporal penalties of Adam -- from sorrow, bodily infirmities, and death."...by a singular privilege and grace granted by God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the human race."
The immunity from original sin was given to Mary by a singular exemption from a universal law through the same merits of Christ, by which other men are cleansed from sin by baptism. Mary needed the redeeming Saviour to obtain this exemption, and to be delivered from the universal necessity and debt ( debitum ) of being subject to original sin. The person of Mary, in consequence of her origin from Adam, should have been subject to sin, but, being the new Eve who was to be the mother of the new Adam, she was, by the eternal counsel of God and by the merits of Christ, withdrawn from the general law of original sin. Her redemption was the very masterpiece of Christ's redeeming wisdom. He is a greater redeemer who pays the debt that it may not be incurred than he who pays after it has fallen on the debtor.
Such is the meaning of the term "Immaculate Conception."
- _____: Fr. Patrick Dolan
- _____: Monsignor David Cox
- 20___: Fr. Don Antweiler
- 2022: Fr. Matthew Flatley