Dear Friends. Here is the fifth installment of Fr. Michael Belinsky’s exposition on our stained glass windows. Enjoy! Fr. Pat
West Wall: “Mother and Child”
“Holy Mother of God, Pray for us.”
The full image is that of Mary, the Mother of God, with the child Jesus in her arms. His arms are open to us, welcoming us, embracing us just as he will welcome the Cross and embrace it out of love for us.
The entire image is placed within an aureole, an almond-shaped, elongated nimbus. This geometric symbol is only used in surrounding the entire body of the Lord or, as here, the Virgin and Child.
From this portrait emanate rays of divine light and glory from this holy couple. Again, Jesus has a 3-rayed nimbus encircling his head, a sign of his divine nature. Mary is dressed in blue, for those of Western Europe, this is the color of royalty (in the Eastern Christianity, Mary is robed in red as Queen). Mary’s halo signifies her saintliness.
Upper left – an orb topped by a cross. This is the Cross of Triumph, a sign of the triumph of the Gospel throughout the earth.
Lower left – a Christmas Rose, a symbol of the Nativity and the Messianic prophecy. This is a hardy white rose which is said blooms at Christmastime.
Lower right – an Anchor Cross, used by early Christians in the catacombs; it’s origin thought to be Egypt. Anchors are thrown overboard by sailors when they want their boat to stay in one place and not drift with the wind or current of the water. An anchor achieves this by “hooking” into the “bed” at the bottom of the water and/or by being very heavy and solid. They are usually made of iron and attached to the boat with a thick chain. Thus, the anchor was regarded as a symbol of safety and unwavering steadfastness. Early Christians adopted the anchor as a symbol of hope in future existence. For Christians, Christ is the unfailing hope of all who believe in him. The author of Hebrews says that God has sworn a promise of salvation to us and cannot lie; therefore, “we have as an anchor of the soul, sure and firm” (Hebrews 6:18-19).
Upper right – A golden crown which emits three rays of light and the crown is topped by a cross. The cross and crown symbolize the reward of the faithful in the life after death for those who are true to the crucified Savior. “Let them commit themselves to the Lord in complete faith and unflinching courage knowing that in this contest, (they) are not slain but rather win their crowns” (from a letter by St. Cyprian, Epist. 80; CSEL 3, 840). As the cross is a sign of Christ’s triumph over sin and death through the Paschal Mystery, the golden crown reminds us of his divinity as the Son of God; the three rays of light recall the descent of the Holy Spirit to the world from the Father through the Son. In this, we have the entire Trinity represented in a symbolic form.