Dear Holy Redeemer Parishioners, Fr. Michael Belinsky has prepared a superb exposition of all the stained glass windows in Holy Redeemer Church. Periodically, his reflections will be featured in this column, especially when they point to the liturgical seasons being celebrated, I think you will enjoy them!
Holy Redeemer Church Stained Glass windows Created in 1956 by Wilbur Herbert Burnham 1126 Boyleston Street, Boston, MA
The present church of Holy Redeemer (Portland, Oregon) was built in 1926 and most recently renewed in 2007. Exterior plastic panels which were meant to protect the stained glass windows, through age and weathering, became brittle and discolored. Our windows received new, clear exterior protective panes. The windows, a legacy of many previous generations of dedicated parishioners, continue to inspire and teach those who meditate upon them.
Choir Loft Window “The Seal of the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer”
The Redemptorists founded this parish in 1906 and staffed it until 2000. As a band of religious priests and brothers, founded in 1732 by St. Alphonsus Liguori, their mission: to proclaim the Gospel and the work of Jesus Christ, our Redeemer. In their ministry, they embody a great devotion to Mary under the title of Our Mother of Perpetual Help. A copy of this icon is enshrined in our church, left of the sanctuary, and devotional Prayers to Our Mother of Perpetual Help are offered each Tuesday morning.
This massive image contains a rich treasury of symbols. This Redemptorist seal is placed with an unfurled banner, announcing the Good News of the Gospel through the ministry of their priests and brothers. Looking from top to bottom:
Angel face & wings – The heavenly host, created by God, are messengers of the Lord, invisible beings who watch over us and extend to us God’s loving care.
The Motto of the Redemptorists – situated as an arch over the image is the Latin phrase “Copiosa Apud Eum Dempto.” Based on Psalm 130:7, “With the Lord is full redemption” we find echoed directly opposite this window in the sanctuary apse with the inscription: “With the Lord there is mercy and fullness of redemption.” (Psalm 130:7).
Crown – Royal crowns and diadems were made of gold, the most precious of metals. Even gold was one of the gifts offered to the Christ Child from the Magi. A golden crown for a king: Jesus Christ, our King, the Lord of heaven and earth. We are united with our King through our baptism and lives of faith as we recall: “Be faithful until death and I will give you the crown of life.” (Revelation 2:10).
God’s eye – The providence and constant care of God are seen in this symbol. God is always present to and aware of all that God has created. Even though we sleep, God never sleeps nor forgets the people He has made His own.
Cross – The sign of our salvation in which we live, move and have our being. The Cross embodies the mystery of Christ’s passion, death and resurrection. The cross is a sign of our most fervent hope.
Lance – The instrument which pierced the side of Christ brought forth blood and water; these two elements are seen as the birth of the Church (the waters of baptism) and the Sacraments (the precious blood received in the Eucharist). (John 19:34)
Pole with Hyssop – Jesus said, “I thirst.” Hyssop mixed with wine on a sponge. This was offered to Jesus at his crucifixion so as to keep him conscious. (John 19:29-30).
Left: a capital “S” superimposed over a capital “I” (a “J” in English) = St. Joseph. Invoking the intercession of patron saint of the Universal Church.
Right: a capital “A” superimposed over a capital “M” (“Ave Maria” = “Hail, Mary”). Invoking the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God and of the Church.
Undergirded by a laurel wreath – this wreath was bestowed upon Greco-Roman athletes for their victory!
Final image – lower left side: fleur de lis (French) – A lily flower. This white bloom is associated with the Trinity due to its three blossoms as well as with Mary who embodies holiness, innocence and purity.
Overall, the symbols in this window are dark colors: deep green, royal blue, vibrant red, golden yellow, and a striking purple. These colors were often used in French cathedrals and churches because the bright sunlight of France made these colors stream like jewels. The background panes of this window are light colors: pink, grey, green lilac. English cathedrals and churches utilized these colors in their windows because of the overcast and cloudiness of that country. Lighter colors allowed for the images to be seen easier from using light-colored glass. In our windows, we have both hues used of many colors. And Portland is known for its sunny summer season and its overcast winter. So, we can enjoy both the vibrancy of the colors as well as the richness of their depth depending on the time of day and the time of year.