Interior Design and Stained-Glass of St. Mary’s Church, Sacramento, CA

Three entrance doors adorned with blue stained-glass windows of modern design decorate the entrance vestibule of the building that is sufficiently large to provide a sheltered gathering space, and also houses sacred beauty in the form of a sculpture of the Pieta on the south side.

Inside of the worship space, one will immediately notice the sky-blue apse housing the sanctuary at the eastern end; and experience the strong architectural propulsion toward the central area of Eucharistic celebration. From an overall viewpoint, the interior design reflects the rectangular motifs of the exterior with a long, narrow nave and angled, louvered openings for stained-glass windows in the clerestory. However, the rounded archways separating the sanctuary and small transepts deviate from the motif of straight lines and create a more classical effect. The rounded-edge ceiling includes a painting of a white-clouded blue sky providing a metaphoric opening to the heavens above with lighting provided by traditionally-styled pendant lamps hanging on long chains from the ceiling.

The church contains many magnificent stained-glass windows, most with a prominent blue color which blends well with the color of the apse and ceiling in reflection of the traditional color of the patroness, St. Mary.

On either side of the nave, are sixteen windows in the clerestory. On the north side are eight windows depicting the Solemnities of Mary, and on the south are the Seven Sacraments of the Catholic Church plus an image of Jesus as the Good Shepherd on the eastern end of the series. The Solemnities of Mary are a combination of the scenes of Mary’s Life from the Joyous and Glorious Mysteries of the Rosary.

The two windows in the south transept depict scenes from, and images of, the favored Saint Joseph. The left (east) window illustrates St. Joseph as the Patron of the Universal Church (Latin, “Protector Sanctae Ecclesiae”), as pronounced by Pope Pius IX on December 8, 1870 (upper left corner). The bottom part of the window shows an angel with a sleeping St. Joseph illustrative of the three dreams narrated in the Gospel of Mark in he which received instructions from God. The window on the right (west) side highlights the title of St. Joseph the Worker, as well as the Husband of Mary and Foster Father of Jesus. The central image is that of St. Joseph with a large saw of the carpenter, with the bottom pane showing some typical occupations of the period: a fisherman, a mechanic and a farmer. The window bears the name, Bishop R. J. Armstrong who invited the Oblates of St. Joseph to take charge of St. Mary’s in the year 1935. The window also displays the façade of the Shrine of St. Joseph at the site of the Motherhouse of the Oblates in Asti, Italy. The remains of the OSJ founder, St. Joseph Marello are in the side altar of the Shrine in Asti.

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