Saturday, February 3, 2007

Liturgical Recycling: Stained-Glass Resurrection in Duluth

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After 14½ years in storage, three large stained-glass windows from a demolished Duluth church now glow in the light of day at St. Benedict Catholic Church in Duluth.

The windows grace a new 4,000-square-foot gathering space that curves around one side of the church at 1419 St. Benedict St. The space is intended for people to visit before and after Mass so the sanctuary can be reserved for worship and prayer.
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The windows are prominently placed across from the entrance to the church sanctuary. When you enter the gathering space from outside, they draw you toward the sanctuary, as light filters through their nearly century-old glass and spills in colorful patches on the carpeted floor.

St. Clement had been vacant since the early 1970s and was in disrepair when it was scheduled to be demolished in 1992. St. Clement, along with nearby Sts. Peter and Paul and St. Jean Baptiste, merged to form Holy Family parish in Duluth’s Lincoln Park/West End neighborhood.

Dennis Gunsolus grew up in the neighborhood and St. Clement, at 21st Avenue West and Third Street, was a big part of his family’s life. He attended St. Clement School.

When Gunsolus learned the church would be torn down, he couldn’t bear to think of the beautiful stained-glass windows crashing to the ground. He salvaged the windows, religious statues and bells. One window is a focal point in his home while others are in Holy Family.

St. Clement’s stained-glass windows were created by F.X. Zettler of Munich, Germany, a leader in reviving the stained-glass art form. From 1880 to about 1920, the company produced 450 sets of stained glass for buildings in North America, including several windows for St. Clement in the early 1900s, according to Gunsolus.

The colors are fired into the glass, with a separate firing for each color, he explained. “Imagine the skill it took — it’s fused in the glass,” he explained.

Each of the three windows at St. Benedict is 3½ by 17 feet. One window depicts a priest celebrating Mass and an angel bringing souls out of purgatory as red and yellow flames lick at them.

Another window depicts Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit descended on the Apostles. It shows Mary and the Apostles with flames flickering above their heads. Above them is a white dove fluttering in a halo of golden light. At the top of the window is the hand of God.

The third window shows St. Patrick expelling the snakes from Ireland. At his feet, a red snake slithers toward the sea. At the top is a brilliant green shamrock. [....Snip] Duluth NewsTribune


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