Sixteen new pieces of contemporary theological art have been installed at Our Lady of Loreto Church in the form of stained glass windows.
“They’re stunning,” pastor Msgr. Edward Buelt told the Register Feb. 27, while the parish was in the midst of an installation process that began Feb. 24. “Photos don’t even begin to compare to the beauty of the actual windows.”
The new windows were designed by artist and Littleton native Scott Parsons, an art professor at Augustana College in Sioux City, S.D., and a Lutheran Christian whose work for Loreto was influenced by a “Colorado spirituality.” The windows complement the natural elements of stone and wood in the 2003 Romanesque style church at 18000 E. Arapahoe Road in Foxfield—elements designed to reflect the Colorado landscape, according to Msgr. Buelt, including a marble and limestone altar, stone sanctuary, and tall beams of red oak representing trees.
“(I told Scott) we don’t want glass that simply projects light,” Msgr. Buelt said. “We wanted glass that captures it, plays with it and in some sense refashions it, and then throws it into the church.
“Boy have we achieved that in spades,” he said. “In particular the deep golds and the reds.”
They are situated to respond to varying light during the four seasons, according to Parsons, for example, a window representing summer is on the north-facing wall and winter on the south-facing wall.
The windows depict a variety of theological imagery specifically: five circular dome windows facing due east portray the heavenly Jerusalem as revealed in the Book of Revelation, namely the Lamb of God seated on his throne and the tree of life; one circular window to the northwest that represents the marriage of the Lamb of God to “the heavenly Denver”; and 10 rectangular windows on the north and south walls that illustrate the nine ranks of angels and the prince of archangels, St. Michael.
“We were very concerned to follow the ancient tradition and theology of the Church and in particularly Pseudo Dionysius, the most quoted Church father in St. Thomas’ ‘Summa Theologica,’” Msgr. Buelt explained, referring to the well-known theological work of St. Thomas Aquinas.
There St. Thomas cautioned against representing angels in human form.
“We made a very intentional design choice,” Msgr. Buelt continued, “an attempt to capture the very nature of a pure spiritual being, namely an angel, in accord with the teaching of Scripture and the Church Fathers.”
The angels are represented by breath, wind, fire and water, Parsons said, and the material itself made this way: the stained glass is mouth-blown with “breath and wind,” the pigment involves a series of firings and etchings, then the piece is cooled with water.
The windows, financed by an anonymous donor, were fabricated at the Derix Glass Studios in Taunnesstein, Germany, whose work includes St. Joseph Church of Resurrection at Ground Zero in New York and a 6,900-square-foot installation Dome of Light at the Formosa Boulevard Station in Kaohsiung, Taiwan. Parsons’ work in the Denver area includes five digital murals designed for the National Cable Television Center and Museum Main Exhibition Hall on the University of Denver campus.
Derix installed the windows along with a local team. They were blessed at the 11 a.m. Mass March 9 and there will be a second blessing at 11 a.m. Mass March 16.
“I invite everyone to come out and engage with the windows,” Msgr. Buelt said. “They are already being hailed as a masterpiece of stained glass and a major advance of contemporary theological art.”
In Msgr. Buelt’s conversations with Barbara Derix—whose family founded Derix Glass Studios, the largest stained glass studio in Europe, in 1866—she relayed that every major artist in Germany who viewed the windows while they were on display at the studio, including world-class glass artist Karl Martin-Hartmann, “halted” before them and commented that they were “as beautifully designed and executed as any,” including being compared favorably to the Chagall windows at the Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem.
“They are a major advance because they are so theologically accurate, precisely reflective of the Vatican II exhortation to ‘resourcement’ or return to the sources,” Msgr. Buelt said. “Specifically a return to the Church Fathers and particularly Pseudo Dionysius and St. Thomas Aquinas.”
At the same time they are inspirational, he said, capable of inspiring reflection, joy and beauty in the heart of contemporary man.
“I look forward very much to reflecting with parishioners on their theological meaning and the spirituality of the kingdom of God which they proclaim,” he added.
The experience has been “incredible” and “precious,” according to Parsons.
“To impact the spiritual life of an individual is the highest calling as an artist,” he said.
For more information, visit www.OurLadyofLoreto.org.
Stained Glass Windows and Sacred Music
Where: Our Lady of Loreto Church, 18000 E. Arapahoe Road, Foxfield
What: Blessing of new stained glass windows
When: 11 a.m. Mass March 16
What: Organ concert by Russian performer Marina Omelchenko
When: 7:30 p.m. March 16
Theme: Lord’s passion, creation, marriage feast of the Lamb and angels (as depicted on the new windows)
Cost: free, donations accepted for Mary Mother of God Mission Society, assisting the people and Church in Vladivostok, Russia
Questions: 303-766-3800 or www.OurLadyofLoreto.org