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Rosary mysteries stun in abstract windows

Ten new stained glass windows installed at Our Lady of Loreto Parish in Foxfield depict the mysteries of the rosary in dazzling pieces of abstract art.

The windows mark yet another addition to Our Lady of Loreto’s already-impressive collection of stained glass windows that adorn their enormous chapel. The windows, which were made possible by an anonymous donor, were designed by artist and Littleton native Scott Parsons, who designed the 16 stained glass windows that were installed at the parish in February 2014.

Monsignor Edward Buelt, pastor of Our Lady of Loreto, and the anonymous donor worked with Parsons to conceptualize the windows, which trace the mysteries of the rosary. In addition to sacred Scripture, they drew from theological works of St. Ephrem of Syria, St. John Paul II and Romano Guardini as guiding principles for their design, which depict the mysteries in brilliant color and an artistic style known as abstract realism.

“[They’re] not the usual depictions of the mysteries,” said Monsignor Buelt. “They are abstract realism because the mysteries of our faith are abstract. Abstract art, by its very nature, requires that you put yourself into it in order to draw yourself out of it, and not simply stand before it.”

Monsignor Buelt said the response to the windows from Our Lady of Loreto parishioners has been nothing but positive.

“They love them. They cry when they see them. They speak of them as stunning, exquisite, miraculous, marvelous,” he said. “You can be engaged by them from anywhere, which is what stained glass windows are supposed to do, to teach, to engage, to call us into those mysteries through which light shines to us.”

The Joyful Rosary: The Annunciation the Virgin Mary can be seen in the center of the window, and the bright light at the top represents the Holy Spirt coming down upon Mary at the Annunciation, an allusion to the book of Isaiah when it says, “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light” (Is 9:2). The lilies in the foreground symbolize Mary (white) and Elizabeth (red).
The Joyful Rosary: The Annunciation
the Virgin Mary can be seen in the center of the window, and the bright light at the top represents the Holy Spirt coming down upon Mary at the Annunciation, an allusion to the book of Isaiah when it says, “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light” (Is 9:2). The lilies in the foreground symbolize Mary (white) and Elizabeth (red).

The Joyful Rosary: The Nativity, Presentation and Finding in the Temple Mary and Joseph are shown at the bottom, admiring the baby Jesus in their arms. The presentation of the child Jesus is represented by the two turtledoves. The Hebrew script at the top says the ancient prophecy written in the book of Isaiah, “They name him Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Is 9:6).
The Joyful Rosary: The Nativity, Presentation and Finding in the Temple
Mary and Joseph are shown at the bottom, admiring the baby Jesus in their arms. The presentation of the child Jesus is represented by the two turtledoves. The Hebrew script at the top says the ancient prophecy written in the book of Isaiah, “They name him Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Is 9:6).

The Luminous Rosary: The Baptism in the Jordan The inspiration for this depiction of Jesus setting the Jordan river ablaze at his Baptism comes from St. Ephram’s Hymns of Faith, where he wrote, “Fire and Spirit are in the womb of her who bore you, Fire and Spirit are in the river in which you were baptized, Fire and Spirit are in our baptism, and in the Bread and Cup is Fire and Holy Spirit."
The Luminous Rosary: The Baptism in the Jordan
The inspiration for this depiction of Jesus setting the Jordan river ablaze at his Baptism comes from St. Ephram’s Hymns of Faith, where he wrote, “Fire and Spirit are in the womb of her who bore you, Fire and Spirit are in the river in which you were baptized, Fire and Spirit are in our baptism, and in the Bread and Cup is Fire and Holy Spirit.”

 

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The Luminous Rosary: The Wedding at Cana and the Proclamation of the Kingdom The grapes and chalices of wine represent Jesus turning the water into wine at the wedding feast of Cana. At the top of this window, the Proclamation of the Kingdom is shown in an untraditional depiction that fuses an image of Jesus with a Reuters photograph of Christians fleeing from ISIS in the Middle East.

The Luminous Rosary: The Transfiguration and the Institution of the Eucharist Jesus is shown as emitting a glowing light from within at the Transfiguration. In the foreground, the institution of the Eucharist is represented by the chalice and the host.
The Luminous Rosary: The Transfiguration and the Institution of the Eucharist
Jesus is shown as emitting a glowing light from within at the Transfiguration. In the foreground, the institution of the Eucharist is represented by the chalice and the host.

The Sorrowful Rosary: The Agony in the Garden A red wing can be seen reaching down behind the profile of Jesus, symbolizing the archangel who comforted Christ during his agony in the garden. Above, cobwebs are formed, representing the death that Christ will soon conquer, as written in the Book of Isaiah: “On this mountain he will destroy…the web that is woven over all nations; he will destroy death forever” (Is 25:7).
The Sorrowful Rosary: The Agony in the Garden
A red wing can be seen reaching down behind the profile of Jesus, symbolizing the archangel who comforted Christ during his agony in the garden. Above, cobwebs are formed, representing the death that Christ will soon conquer, as written in the Book of Isaiah: “On this mountain he will destroy…the web that is woven over all nations; he will destroy death forever” (Is 25:7).

The Sorrowful Rosary: The Scourging at the Pillar and Crowning with a Crown of Thorns This window might seem a bit out of place at first, as it features perhaps the least abstract image of all the other windows: a rooster. However, Monsignor Buelt explained that the rooster alludes to Peter and his betrayal and denial of Christ before the crucifixion. “What greater scourging is there than we who continue to sin, to deny Christ even in the midst of his agony,” Monsignor Buelt said. The rooster also one has one leg, repressing the crippling effect that sin has on us. “All we can do is hop. We can’t follow Christ if we’re facing him in our sin as opposed to following behind him,” Monsignor Buelt said.
The Sorrowful Rosary: The Scourging at the Pillar and Crowning with a Crown of Thorns
This window might seem a bit out of place at first, as it features perhaps the least abstract image of all the other windows: a rooster. However, Monsignor Buelt explained that the rooster alludes to Peter and his betrayal and denial of Christ before the crucifixion. “What greater scourging is there than we who continue to sin, to deny Christ even in the midst of his agony,” Monsignor Buelt said. The rooster also one has one leg, repressing the crippling effect that sin has on us. “All we can do is hop. We can’t follow Christ if we’re facing him in our sin as opposed to following behind him,” Monsignor Buelt said.

The Sorrowful and Glorious Rosary: The Crucifixion and the Resurrection The Crucifixion of Christ is viscerally depicted in this window. The bottom of the window features a photograph taken at the Sandy Hook shooting in Connecticut in December 2012, and Christ’s presence above it represents his conquering of the evil of sin through his crucifixion. “The great evil that is what our society has become is nonetheless redeemed and resurrected by Christ,” Monsignor Buelt explained.
The Sorrowful and Glorious Rosary: The Crucifixion and the Resurrection
The Crucifixion of Christ is viscerally depicted in this window. The bottom of the window features a photograph taken at the Sandy Hook shooting in Connecticut in December 2012, and Christ’s presence above it represents his conquering of the evil of sin through his crucifixion. “The great evil that is what our society has become is nonetheless redeemed and resurrected by Christ,” Monsignor Buelt explained.

The Glorious Rosary: The Ascension and the Descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost The same spirit that appeared at the Annunciation engulfs Christ at his Ascension, who is represented here in a glowing blue color. St. Paul wrote in his second letter to the Corinthians that we understand Christ differently after his death, and Monsignor Buelt explained that if before his death Christ was represented as an orange wood flame, he is now shown as a natural, blue carbon flame. The lattices below him are an allusion to the Song of Songs.
The Glorious Rosary: The Ascension and the Descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost
The same spirit that appeared at the Annunciation engulfs Christ at his Ascension, who is represented here in a glowing blue color. St. Paul wrote in his second letter to the Corinthians that we understand Christ differently after his death, and Monsignor Buelt explained that if before his death Christ was represented as an orange wood flame, he is now shown as a natural, blue carbon flame. The lattices below him are an allusion to the Song of Songs.

The Glorious Rosary: The Second Coming and the Consummation of All Things in Christ Though the final two mysteries of the Rosary are traditionally the Assumption and Crowning of Mary, Monsignor Buelt drew inspiration for this last window from the theologian Romano Guardini, who argued that the final two mysteries are the Second Coming of Christ and the consummation of all things in him. The swirling halo of wildflowers surrounding Christ and the facade of the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception symbolize him coming to Colorado. Additionally, Christ is depicted as a young, athletic, beardless man, according to how the early Church described Christ in his Second Coming. The candle flame at the bottom reminds us to “keep your lamps burning brightly, for you do not know when the Son of Man is coming” (Mt 25:13).
The Glorious Rosary: The Second Coming and the Consummation of All Things in Christ
Though the final two mysteries of the Rosary are traditionally the Assumption and Crowning of Mary, Monsignor Buelt drew inspiration for this last window from the theologian Romano Guardini, who argued that the final two mysteries are the Second Coming of Christ and the consummation of all things in him. The swirling halo of wildflowers surrounding Christ and the facade of the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception symbolize him coming to Colorado. Additionally, Christ is depicted as a young, athletic, beardless man, according to how the early Church described Christ in his Second Coming. The candle flame at the bottom reminds us to “keep your lamps burning brightly, for you do not know when the Son of Man is coming” (Mt 25:13).

Aaron Lambert
Aaron is the Managing Editor for the Denver Catholic.
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