Around the Church Second Installment

The Entry

The lobby at the main entrance of the church is called a narthex.  A narthex is an architectural element typical of early Christian and Byzantine basilicas and located opposite the church’s main altar. Traditionally the narthex was a part of the physical church, but was not considered part of the church proper.

Take a few moments to read the plaques as you enter or leave church.  These plaques are a reminder of people and families who have contributed to our church in many different ways.  The plaques are:

  • Exceptional service to the parish award plaques are to the left of the main church entry doors: One is for Maria Ruf.  The other honors Marion Venetucci, Francis Ostertag, BettyMaslauska. Rose T. Maloff, and Kevin Keating.
  • Significant contributions to church improvements are to the right of the main church entry doors: New kneelers (Dominic Carfagno), New Floor (Memory of Fred and Eleanor Schweiger), and Religious Education (Elizabeth A. Larkin.
  • The Knights of Columbus Honor roll plaque is by the left (south) church entry door. It contains 38 names of deceased members of the Father Setters Council No. 1278, 4th
  • Donors to the Stations of the Cross plaque is next to the right (north) church entry door.
  • The Archdiocese Project Renewal donors are located next to the staircase to the right of the choir loft stairs.
  • New Organ donors’ plaque is located by the left (south) choir stairs.
  • The wash room has a plaque noting the improvement by the FIL-AM group in 2014.
  • The Schulmerich Handbells, donated by the Farina Family, plaque is next to the narthex main entry doors. The memorial is for John and Carmella Farina, their daughters Genevieve (Jean), Mary Elaine, and all deceased members of the Farina family.

At the left (south side) of the narthex is a room used for both brides and ushers.  At the far right, by the north entry door, is the washroom.  Tucked into the corner by the north choir stairs is a holy water dispenser.  Parishioners can refill their small, personal containers at this font.

The tables between the church entry doors hold information about parish projects and Catholic newspapers.

Bulletin boards on the front and back walls hold information on Catholic church initiatives.  Benches are available for parishioners to visit after mass.





The Choir Loft

The present choir loft, at the rear of the church, was originally a balcony that could hold about 100 people.  It consisted of the pews and a large cabinet that contained the amplifier and speakers for the organ.

The first organ and choir were located behind the large crucifix behind the altar.  The organ did not contain any pipes, reeds, or winds.  The musical tones it produced were created in the form of tiny electrical currents controlled by the organist.  Wires carried the tones to amplifiers and speakers which converted them to the sounds heard.  The first organ was purchased by Pastor Wagener and Father Wilhelm in 1938, prior to the current church being built.

The current organ was purchased after a parish drive raised $40,000.  Renovations were made to the choir loft, which included the removal of the pews.  This organ was made by the Rodgers Organ Company.  The three manual, 75-rank organ was dedicated in a recital on February 28, 1982.


Father Fearon dedicating new organ                                                                        Director Dave Strutzel rehearsing choir

The Trusses

Look up at the ceiling in the church.  The wooden beams, known as trusses, are the structural frames supporting the roof of our church.  These trusses, which weigh 14 tons, contain many Christian symbols.

The beams connected to the walls have emblems of the twelve apostles.

St. Peter – two crossed keys, symbolizing the faith upon which the Church is founded, and an inverted cross since Peter requested that his head might be where his Master’s feet were nailed to the cross when he was crucified. St. John – a snake in a chalice.  It is said that an attempt was made on his life by putting poison in a chalice.
St. Philip – the tall slender cross and the two loaves of bread, recalling his remark when our Lord fed the multitude.  The spear represents how he died. St. Thomas – the carpenter’s square and the vertical spear.  He is the patron saint of builders.  He was stoned, shot down with arrows and finally pierced with a spear.
St. Matthew – a battle-axe which severed his head after he was crucified in Ethiopia.  The three purses represent his former life as a tax collector St. Simon – a fish on the bible, because he was a great fisher of men through the power of the Gospel
St. Mathias – a book and double battle axe.  He is said to have been stoned and beheaded in Judaea.  St. Mathias replaced St. Jude as an apostle. St. Jude – A ship with a cross since he went on many missionary expeditions.
St. James the Less – a saw and stones since he was stoned to death and then was sawn apart. St. Bartholomew – a bible and flaying knife.  He was a preacher and was decapitated after he was crucified.
St. Andrew – fishes and a cross.  St. Andrew was a fisherman.  The cross is because he was crucified in Greece. St. James the Greater – the vertical cross-hilted sword and the shell signifying martyrdom and pilgrimage.  He suffered death at the hand of Herod.

The cross beams hold ten different symbols of the church.

The ‘X’ signifies Christ flanked by the symbols for Alpha and Omega.  X signifies Ch and P is the Greek letter for R or the first three letters of the word Christ. The symbol of the Trinity.  The three equal arcs of the circle express the equality of the Three Divine Persons, the union expresses the unity of divine essence, their continuous form symbolizes.
The Sun of Righteousness with the IHS inscription is a symbol of the Lord.  IHS are the first three letters in Greek of the name Jesus.  This emblem was used by St. Bernardine of Siena throughout his ministry. The Descending Dove represents the Holy Ghost.  The head of the dove is shown with the three-rayed nimbus emblematic of the Holy Trinity.
The Chalice and the Sacred Host represent the Holy Eucharist, or the Last Supper. Noah’s Ark is a symbol of the Church with her saving Word and the Sacraments
The Fleur-de-Lys is a symbol of the Holy Trinity and also of the Virgin Mary.  It is thought by many authorities to be a conventionalized form of the Annunciation lily. The Anchor, a symbol of the church dating back to the Catacombs outside of Rome.  It represents our Blessed Savior, the Hope of the World.  The heart placed on the anchor with the crosspiece on the shank are the usual emblems of Faith, Hope, and Charity
  The cross and Orb represent the Triumph of the Gospel.  It is a symbol of the world-conquest of His Gospel through the means of Grace, the preaching of His Word and the administration of His sacraments.  A modern note has been introduced in this symbol by placing a radio tower to one side to send God’s message around the world. IC XC, the first and last letters of Jesus in Greek, are often accompanied with the letters NIKA, which is taken from the Greek form of In Hoc Signo Vinces, meaning ‘to be victorious’ or ‘to conquer’. Constantine adopted this motto when he witnessed the cross. The ICXC Cross is therefore also known as the Conqueror’s Cross

Stained Glass windows – Main Church

The stained-glass windows were purchased from Karl Hackert, Inc., a Chicago firm that designed stained glass windows, altars, and mosaics for churches.  At the back of the church, over the choir loft, is a large rose window.  The rest of the windows in the main church are very similar – there is the ‘outer trim’, the dedication at the bottom, and then the ‘frame’ around the picture.

The outer trim has a standard part, used in each of the windows, and unique church symbols.  The standard part includes the symbols for the cross, a sea shell (Baptism), an eight-point star (Baptism), and the ram’s horns over a column (protection).  There are seven ‘unique symbols on each window; one is at the top of the window, with the remaining six on each side, under the 1st, 3rd, and 5th cross bars.  The meaning of many of these symbols are well known, such as the dove for peace, the shamrock for the Holy Trinity, and the host and chalice for the Holy Eucharist.  Some are other symbols that may be less well known are:

  • The bees/bee hives are symbols of the Church, wisdom, and virginity. Bees, like the clergy and religious men and women in the Church, work unceasingly for the common good of the hive and obey without question their superiors, and above all their queen.
  • The Churches and Cathedral represents God being our refuge.
  • The eye (in a pyramid) is the “all-seeing eye” of God the Father, the all-knowing and ever-present God.
  • The harp symbolizes music, instruments, joy and worship in praising God.
  • The pelican represents atonement and the Redeemer.
  • The rooster symbolizes a sinner’s acceptance of divine pardon through Jesus Christ.
  • Ten Commandments tablets represent God’s expectation for us.

Check each window and see how many symbols you recognize.


“Heaven” Rose Window                                                                                         Symbols on outer “frame”

The ‘frame’ around each picture, similar to the outer frame described last week, include some standard components and unique components.  The ‘standard’ parts include three angels, one at the bottom of the picture and two at the top, two urns at the top, and a flame at the top.  Underneath the flame (which represents the Holy Spirit) is a unique symbol.  Some of the symbols are in the outer frame in other windows.

The pictures and the people who donated the windows (from the left (south) rear and going clock-wise around the church) are:

  • Francis of Assisi – Gift of Michael Cremonsi Family
  • The Death of St. Joseph – donated by Mary and Rose Shannon in Memory of Nicholas and Margaret Shannon
  • Jesus Visiting the Temple – Donated by the Holy Name Society
  • The Holy Family – Gift of William & Estelle Curran
  • The Nativity – Gift of Mrs. Henry F. Nehls in memory of her husband
  • The Annunciation – Gift of Rev. John T. Wagener
  • Our Blessed Lady’s presentation of the rosary to St. Dominic. – Gift of the Altar and Rosary Society.
  • Sacred Heart of Jesus and St. Margaret Alacoque – In Memory of the parents of Mr. & Mrs. Joseph Metzger
  • Pentecost – In Memory of Priscella J. Russell
  • Jesus Blessing the Little Children – Gift of the School Children 1939-1940
  • The Good Shepherd – Gift of a Parishioner
  • Agony in the Garden – In Memory of John and Aimee Foote
  • Keys of the Kingdom – In Memory of the Peter Troost Family


The Ornamental Tiles

Around the church runs a line of ornamental blue tiles. These frame the doorways and shrines and divides the wainscoting.  Three distinct emblems or symbols are found in this tile.

The three fishes are arranged in the form of a triangle, representing the Holy Trinity.
The boat represents the Barque of Peter.  This is a reference to the Roman Catholic Church. The term refers to Peter, the first pope, who was a fisherman before becoming an apostle of Jesus. The pope is often said to be steering the Barque of St. Peter.  A barque is a type of sailing vessel with three or more masts having the fore- and mainmasts rigged square and only the mizzen (the aft most mast) rigged fore-and-aft.
The Alpha and Omega, the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet, meaning that the Lord is the beginning and the end of all things.