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Stained Glass

“May Jesus Christ be praised!” finished the prayer by Father Libro, Parochial Vicar of Saint Catherine of Bologna Church.  “Amen” murmured the rest of the Committee assigned to design and implement the new Stained Glass window to be installed in the front window of Saint Catherine of Bologna.  The present window was an enormous eye that looked out onto the busy road in front of the church.  The church looked over the busy road, imploring passing motorists to come into the church and partake of her fruits.  Made of clear glass, the present window framed the trees on the other side of the busy thoroughfare, but also, unfortunately, highlighted a brooding, grey electrical transformer mounted on a power pole across the street.  The window was made of clear glass to curb mounting building costs in the initial church construction 46 years earlier.  After over 4 decades of service, the church’s collective will had resolved to make a lasting contribution to the church and the community with a prominently displayed work of religious art.

The effort to install a stained glass window at Saint Catherine’s began when Mrs. Guache, Artistic Liaison at the town library, saw a video on making stained glass.  Upon seeing on her TV screen the rose windows at Notre Dame in Paris, France, remarked that the famous South Window looked more like a Gerber Daisy than a Rose.  She was certain that something had been lost in the translation of the name of the window.  While she had never been to Paris or even seen a stained glass window in person, she was so overwhelmed by the voice of the narrator on the video she determined that Saint Catherine of Bologna should have a stained glass window.

Money for the window came from an anonymous donor, which most people agreed was just Father O’Hallaran taking some money from the General Fund and assigning it to this project.  Father O’Hallaran had a ravenous appetite for anything historical, particularly local history.  On his days off he would visit local points of interest.  He was as intensely interested in a played out Bauxite mine as he was in the Moonshine Museum which displayed several productive moonshine stills and a model of a secret room in Ike Rutterberg’s old cabin.  From this room Ike kept a still owned by his Great Grandfather that made legendary, if illegal, Apple Jack.

For Father O’Hallaran, it was very important to have local history reflected in the new window.  The people of this area had built this church with their own funds and sweat.  “Our town should have a voice in this church’s most visible statement to the community”, he said.  While this was a little vague for some on the Design Committee they all promised to give local history every consideration.

The Executive Forewoman at Saint Catherine of Bologna,  Mrs. Jefa, addresses the committee.  “Father O’Hallaran thinks that the background of the window should be Conifer Mountain”.  Conifer Mountain is a famous local geological feature, whose 227 feet of elevation is a welcome exception to the flat lands surrounding it, being visible over 3 miles away. 


Father O’Hallaran, 93 years of age, was fast asleep.  No one wanted to wake him as his sciatica kept him up most of the night.  Committee meetings like these were his only guarantee of some vital rest.  Father O’Hallaran would snort his approval or disapproval while asleep.

There were three design sketches for the Committee to consider for the window.  Number 1 had a swirling flock of Angels filling a bright heavenly sky, directing a throng of people towards an even brighter point on the horizon.

“That looks expensive” wheezed Mr. Geizig, Director of Finance.  “All that detail and color.  Each color we have to purchase drives the cost up!” he felt a need to point out.

“This is true,” agreed Mr. Ren, Facilities Manager.  Mr. Ren had been tasked to itemize the materials and expenses of the new window.   “Blue is the most expensive color of Stained Glass”, he stressed.

“What’s the cheapest color”? asked Geizig.  “Purple” informed Mr. Ren.

The Committee turned it’s critical care to Sketch 2, a risen Christ, arms outstretched invitingly.  The figure of Christ floating in a comforting warm, hearth like glow of amber surrounded by blue.

“Isn’t it a bit pedantic?” offered Mrs. Volks, Director of Doctrinal Instruction.  “People are supposed to know about church teachings before they come here”.

“It’s too obvious”, added Mr. Gioventú, Youth Captain for the Parish.  “People don’t want to be beat over the head by such unsubtle and direct images”.

“I think it’s wonderfully…” began Father Libro,  Parochial Vicar,  only to be shouted down by Mr. Geizig’s, “Too much blue!!”

All were too embarrassed to consider a design ‘Pedantic, obvious and so extravagantly blue”.

The group’s knot of eyes turned to design 3.

“Isn’t that Conifer Mountain in the background”? someone offered.  It may have been Conifer Mountain or one of the green river of waves flowing across the picture.  It depended on how one looked at it.

“Why are there Covered Wagons on it?” asked Father Libro.  “Local history,” said the Forewoman.  “Ah, that would explain the still in the bottom corner”, sighed Father Libro.

Everyone had to agree that the rendition of Ike Rutterburg’s cabin was very life like.  “And all that Purple will keep the cost way down!” enthusiasted Mr. Geizig.

Father O’Halloran snorted his approval from within the happy dream he was having.

“It’s settled then!”, shouted Forewoman, banging on the table so hard it catapulted Father O’Hallaran into a standing position.  “Oh, good, Father, you’re awake!  We decided on the design for the new window”.

“Is it the one with the covered wagons?  The Boy Scouts submitted that one”, Father beamed. 

“All in favor?” – a big “Aye”!!  “All opposed”? 

Silence, except for Father Libro who exasperated, “There is going to be something about Christ in this window, isn’t there”? 

“We can put a cross on one of the covered wagons”, offered Mrs. Volks. 

“Make it purple”, warned Mr. Geizig.

Eric Alexander

Your Friendly Neighborhood Choir Director


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