Sanctuary and Main Altar – St. Mary’s Church, Sacramento, CA

The focal point of the building design and the Eucharistic Celebration is the image of the Blessed Virgin Mary in a heavenly niche beautifully highlighted within a star-studded, sky-blue apse beneath a spanning archway. The statue of Mary in a gold-trimmed white cape and robins-egg-blue sash show her looking upward with hands folded in prayer.

The image depicts the Mediatrix, as she passes the intercessions of the world beneath her feet to her heavenly Son. The central scene depicts much of the symbolism outlined in the words in the Book of Revelation, “A great sign appeared in the sky, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars.” (Rev 12:1). The Holy Virgin’s grace is illuminated in double-haloes of gold shining like the sun with strands of white light radiating into the billows of heavenly clouds. Twelve stars appear outside the Blessed Mother’s niche reflecting “both the twelve patriarchs of the tribes of Israel (original people of God), and the twelve apostles (renewed people of God).” (per the International Marian Research Institute referenced at the end.)

Above the niche of the Blessed Virgin Mary, one will notice other painted iconography of the Holy Spirit as a dove sending down grace as at Pentecost and unique overhead geometrically-designed painting with radiating spikes of the sun emanating from a small central four-pointed star symbolizing the Father in heaven’s oversight and blessing.

Of course, in front of the Blessed Virgin is a Crucifix placing Jesus at the center of the sacrifice above a marble altar and central golden tabernacle. This sits behind a simple altar table placed on the sanctuary platform raised by three steps above the nave floor, and separated from the congregational space by a heavy travertine-marble-covered altar rail.

The altars, lower walls, floor of the sanctuary and altar rail are covered with beautiful Italian marble some of which came as a donation from the Italian Pavilion at the 1939 World’s Fair, and marble purchased in the mid-1970’s with bingo proceeds.

References
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International Marian Research Institute – https://udayton.edu/imri/mary/t/twelve-stars-in-revelation-meaning.php
and https://udayton.edu/imri/mary/s/sainthood-of-mary-canonization.php

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