Around the Church Third Installment

The Stations of the Cross

The Stations of the Cross or the Via Dolorosa (Sorrowful Way) are richly indulgenced in the Catholic Church.  It is a distinctly Catholic devotion.  The Stations of the Cross depicts the route Jesus took on the day of his Crucifixion.  The devotional object of the Stations of the Cross is to help us make a miniature pilgrimage to the chief scenes of Christ’s sufferings and death.  The origin of this devotion may be traced to the Holy Land.  The Via Dolorosa at Jerusalem was reverently marked out from earliest times and has been the goal of pious pilgrims ever since the days of Constantine in the fourth century.  The name ‘Stations’ occurred in the narrative of an English pilgrim, William Wey, in the mid-1400.

Pictures or representation of the scenes are not necessary; it is the wooden cross over these that are important.  The indulgences (a way to reduce the amount of punishment one has to undergo for sins) for the stations are attached to the crosses.  In our church, the stations are pictures painted by Miklos Gaspar (1885-1946).  Miklos lived in Illinois and Hungary and was known for his murals.  The individual paintings were donated by members of the parish.  The pictures below were photographed by Stuart J. Barrett for the parish dedication book in 1940.


Jesus is Condemned to Death                                                          Jesus carries His cross                                                                            Jesus falls the first time
Donated by the Frank Conlon Family                                           Donated by the Ernest Coyne Family                                                 Donated by Mrs. Susan Troost



Jesus meets his mother                                                                            Simon of Cyrene helps Jesus carry the cross
Donated by Mary A. Moye and Family                                                 Donated by Mr. & Mrs. L.W. Brindley   


Veronica wipes the face of Jesus                                                             Jesus falls the second time
Donated by the Herman Erichsen Family                                            In memory of Wm. J. Hafner & Bridget McGraw


Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem                                                           Jesus falls a third time
In memory of Elizabeth Darmstadt                                                                 In memory of Henry Fiedler


Jesus clothes are taken away                                                                        Jesus is nailed to the cross
Donated by the F.H. Corry Family                                                               Donated by L.S. Russell   


Jesus dies on the cross                                                                                      The body of Jesus is taken down from the cross
In memory of Mrs. Mary Hoh by                                                                   Donated by the Lambke Family
Mr. & Mrs. Stuart J. Barrett
Jesus is laid in the tomb
Donated by the J.C. Ensweiler Family


The Sanctuary – Crucifix

The huge crucifix in the sanctuary reminds us of the Passion and Death of our Divine Savior and the price paid for Our Redemption.  The crucifix has the letters ‘INRI’ carved into the wood of the cross. These letters are the initials of the Latin version of the charge that was filed against Jesus:  ‘Iusus Nazareaus Rex Iudaeorum’, which translates to ‘Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews.’  These are the words which Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor of Judea who sentenced Jesus to death, ordered to be written on the cross on which Jesus Christ was crucified.  The letter ‘I’ is used instead of a ‘J’ because the early Latin alphabet did not have a letter ‘J’ and ‘I’ served instead.  This cross was donated by the Perpetual Help Mothers Club of our parish.

Above the crucifix is a series of decorations that accent the word ‘Praise’.  Above the cross is the Chi-Rho, the first two letters of the word Christ in the Greek language.  The Chi resembles the English X and the rho resembles the English P.  These letters have been a symbol of the Christian religion for quite some time.  When the church was first built, the Chi Rho background was blue with gold lettering.

At the foot of the huge crucifix in the sanctuary, there are two identical wood carved panels.  The emblem is the legendary bird called the Phoenix.  They represent the Resurrection of our Lord and the fact that those who fall asleep in Christ shall rise again to the newness of eternal life.


The Crucifix                                                                                                                                                                       Original Chi Rho


Phoenix Symbols at the base of the crucifix


The Sanctuary – Altars

In a Catholic church, the sanctuary contains the altar of sacrifice.  A Catholic altar is primarily used for the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, where the priest consecrates bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. Catholic altars are traditionally made of stone, often marble, or wood.  Prior to the Second Vatican Council (Vatican II, 1962-1965), there was only one main altar in the church, called the high altar.  The center front panel of the base of the high altar is a depiction of a lamb.  The lamb is on an altar of sacrifice; it is reminiscent of the Lamb from the book of Revelation in the New Testament.  The lamb was sacrificed, and yet had triumphed in the battle against evil.  Just below this depiction is a plaque that translates to “Privileged Altar”.

As a result of Vatican II, priests started celebrating Mass in the language of the countries in which they lived.  Priests started facing the congregation, not only to be heard and seen but also to signal to worshippers that they were being included because they were a vital component of the service.  Since our main altar was made of marble, it could not be ‘moved’ so the priest could face the people.  Instead, a new altar was built for this purpose in front of the high altar.  The ‘Communion Rail’, which separated the sanctuary from the congregation, was not removed as a result of Vatican II; it was removed when then new altar was built to ‘simplify’ the interior of the church.


Original Sanctuary                                                                                                                                 Post Vatican II “Front” Altar

High Altar Sacrificial Lamb Plaque


Pope Paul VI, in 1969, allowed other changes to the altar area and Mass.  These included affording women the ability to take a more active role in the liturgy, primarily in allowing girls to be altar servers (this was previously only an opportunity afforded to males).  The laity was given the chance to serve as eucharistic ministers, and lectors (roles formerly performed by members of the clergy only).

The tabernacle, which holds the Blessed Sacrament, remained in its prominent spot on the high altar.  This is in accordance with the Code of Canon Law which states that it “should be sited in a distinguished place in the church or oratory, a place which is conspicuous, suitably adorned and conducive to prayer.”  Vatican II called for there to be an altar of sacrifice separate from the one that held the tabernacle.  In our church, it was left on the high altar.  In newer churches, it may be in a side chapel.

To the left side of the altar is the pulpit.  In the early years of the church, it was called the ambo.  The name ambo comes from early basilicas and designated a raised platform for reading the Epistle and Gospel.  The front of the pulpit has a plaque with symbols of the four gospel writers:  divine man (St. Matthew); winged lion (St. Mark); winged ox (St. Luke); and rising eagle (St. John).  Lay people can read the epistles, but only the priest or deacon can read the Gospel.  The pulpit, while less ornate than an ambo in decoration, is still elevated (pulpit, by the way, means “scaffold”).

On the right side of the altar is the lectern.  Lecterns are used by the lector, who announce the intentions, leads the congregation in singing, and makes any special announcements for the week.

The Baptismal Font and Easter Vigil Candle are on the right side of the sanctuary.  These were moved to the main sanctuary in 1975 when the Baptistry was converted to the Weekday chapel.


The Tabernacle                                                                                                                       The Pulpit (ambo)



The Lectern                                                                                                                     The Baptismal Font


The Sanctuary – Side Altars

There is a tradition in Catholic churches that statues or altars for Mary are typically on the left in light of the fact that placed there, she is on Jesus’ right hand from “his point of view” — from the point of view of someone looking out from the sanctuary.  St. Joseph’s presence on the right side is then seen in the light of Mary’s privileged role.

When the church was first built, there were many statues. There are no specific norms or rules regarding the placement of statues — the General Instruction of the Roman Missal only notes how “care should be taken that their number not be increased indiscriminately and that they are arranged in proper order so as not to distract the faithful’s attention from the celebration itself. There should usually be only one image of any given Saint” (GIRM 318).  Since then, these statues were removed, leaving only the ones of Mary (left side of the sanctuary) and St. Joseph and St. Bernardine (right side of the sanctuary).

In our church, the symbols of Mary and Joseph are above each of the altars as well as on the front of the altars.  The altars include statues of Mary and Joseph.  During the marriage liturgy, many couples who have a devotion to Mary take a moment before the conclusion of the liturgy to offer prayers to Mary as they begin their life together. This is done since Mary is a wonderful model of how we are to live out our faith and trust in God.

The statue of St. Bernardine on the right side by the St. Joseph Altar was donated in Loving Memory of Paul “Jack” Minogue by the Minogue Family.

Original Sanctuary with additional statues


Mary Immaculata Symbol                                                                Mary Altar and Statue



St. Joseph Statue                                                                                    St. Bernardine Statue