Sanctuary and Main Altar – St. Wenceslaus Church, Milligan, NE

The view of the beautiful fixtures in the sanctuary at the front of the congregation seating is captivating, as one tries to absorb the many ornate details concentrated in the west end of the church.

The sanctuary houses: the back altar, the decorated front altar table, the baptismal font, stained-glass windows, the Crucifix painting; and several statues on the back altar and two side altars. It is fascinating to consider the history of the church and the parish families encompassed in the altars, the statues and the paintings all of which were from the original church built in 1890 and dedicated in 1905. High above the sanctuary is a twelve-paned rose window of white, red and blue with the anguished face of a suffering Jesus at the center.

The back altar is made of white wood with gold-edged engravings painted in a luminescent white reminiscent of a marble altar. Atop the altar are spiraling towers with fleurs-de-lis and, at the apex, a floral-ended Cross in the center. In the center of the altar is a painting within a pointed arch of a simple Crucifix holding the Savior’s body beneath the parchment inscription of INRI (Iesus Nazarenus Rex Iudeorum, “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews”). In the painting, donated in 1943 by Fr. John Kozlik, Christ’s halo emits rays of gold into the background of the dark stormy clouds surrounding the scene on Golgotha. In a niche on the left of the altar is a statue of St. Teresa of Lisieux in a traditional depiction holding roses and a Crucifix. In the right niche is Jesus dressed in white with a bright red mantle displaying His Sacred Heart. Both of His nail-pierced hands point to a heart emanating golden rays of mercy and love.

The front altar table, also in bright milky-white, is adorned with decorative gold edging, and gold-highlighted columns. The face of the table is decorated with a colorful bas relief image of the Last Supper. In this rendition, one can recognize the concentration and astonishment of the twelve Apostles observing the first Eucharistic celebration. One will also notice John, the disciple “whom Jesus loved” (John 13: 23-25) with his head on Christ’s right shoulder, as well as see Judas Iscariot on the right side holding the bag of coins for which he was to betray Jesus.

To the left and right of the back altar are similarly-designed white side-altars holding a statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Child Jesus and a statue of St. Joseph with the Child Jesus. On the base of the side-altars are inscriptions of the names of the Hamouz family beneath the Czech-language phrase “na památku” which translates to “in memory”. The side-altar statues are very colorful with the Blessed Virgin in a bright-blue tunic, and golden crown; and St. Joseph in a red garment.

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