The Most Performed Playwright at Today’s Comédie-Française in Paris: Jean-Baptiste Poquelin called Molière (1622-1673).

Nicolas Mignard (1606-1668). Molière (1622-1673) dans le rôle de César de la “Mort de Pompée”, tragédie de Corneille. Paris, Musée Carnavalet.

Molière was born into a well-to-do family on January 15, 1622 at Rue St. Honoré and grew up near the Bastille at Rue Saint-Antoine in Paris. The greatest genius of the French theater was baptized at St. Eustache as Jean-Baptiste Poquelin. He adopted the stage name of Molière in the mid1640s after he founded his first theater troupe.

A type of Shakespeare of France – profound theater actor, writer and poet – Molière’s characters and wit are timeless – such as in Tartuffe (1664), Don Juan (1665), and The Misanthrope (1666).

French actor Romain Duris as Molière and Italian actress Laura Morante as Elmire in a scene from the 2007 movie “Molière.” The fictional film is told in flashback to 1645. It is a conflation of Molière’s life- indeed, in 1645 the 23-year-old Molière was recently bailed out of debtor’s prison – and with his great, most controversial play, Tartuffe, of the mid1660s. In the film a historical Molière poses as “Monsieur Tartuffe” (a priest) who is to serve as tutor for Orgon’s children. Again, in real life, Molière played a part in his play but as householder Orgon, the trusting husband. For the film, young Molière as Tartuffe, similar to the play, falls in love with Elmire, the neglected wife of the household, the audience in romantic sympathy. In this scene Molière delivers a letter to Elmire from her secret admirer which, unknown to her, was written by a debonaire M. Tartuffe (Duris as Molière).

Whereas in the present day any type of true romance may be heart-warming, the 17th century viewed romance through a lens of means and ends, either of which could be scandalous. Molière’s great plays Don Juan and Tartuffe were halted in their tracks by the French church and state concerned with their giving rise to possible popular scandal deemed inherent in their characters and plots by religious and royal critics turned censors. In the mid1660s, the Archbishop of Paris condemned Molière’s work – and nearly the libertine Molière himself – and then turned to the highest state authority, the king, with whom the top bishop was privileged to be closely aligned, to carry out the sentence.

For Molière, the Ancien Régime was not yet dead as a doornail. The American and French Revolutions were a distant century in the future. The risk of the late 20th and early 21st centuries’ apostolic church selling its religion for parts in exchange for a seat at the table of the new global faith was not yet the acts of a chronically troubled mainstream religion in the 17th century. Though mixing it up may be the church’s normal path, it were those sort of irreligious observations of human life in the 17th century that was a major theme and articulation for Molière’s greatest dramas. It brought him into some trouble. While the young King Louis XIV (1638-1715) sanctioned the orders that banned some of Molière’s farces, the royal personage expressed his reluctance to do so. It had been the priests who were stung by Molière’s popular ridicule with its social danger of being overthrown by comic truths. Yet their will to cancel Molière proved only partly successful in the mid17th century – and hardly at all soon after.

French Literature in the 17th Century

The 17th century continued the wealth of French literature in its many genres – poetry (Malherbe; La Fontaine; Boileau); novels and fairy tales (Cyrano de Bergerac; Perrault); essays (Pascal; La Rochefoucauld; La Bruyère); philosophy (Descartes); theology (St. Francis de Sales; Fénelon; Bossuet) and drama (Corneille; Racine; and Molière), and many others.

Molière’s Comedy

Molière wrote based on actual facts of society and human nature and, using ludicrous incidents, looked straight ahead to a moral purpose – his plays were very instructive and had all the makings of high comedy. Further to attract us, Molière is the premier dramatist of wit.

His characters are not individuals but types – which allows for perhaps greater intensity than complexity. Though the French are not as known for comedy, the form is mostly indigenous, contrasted to tragedy as a dramatic form which came out of Italy.

Paris is a theatrical city. Similar to today’s Beaubourg, there were outdoor performances at the Pont Neuf and Place Dauphine. The Hotel de Bourgogne on Rue Etienne Marcel was used in the 16th century by the Confraternité de la Passion for passion plays. In the mid1620s when America was a wilderness there would be street parades of comedians in Paris to lure spectators into the theatre. Stock farce characters included Aurlupin (mean spirited school teacher), Gros Guillaume (dressed in a flour sack), and Captain Fracasse (break things). At the permanent flea market of St. Germain de Prés, spectacles were put on stage. Goods were sold, some of it junk, because, as Daumier observed, “people are always fooled.”

Molière’s mother died when he was 10 years old and he was raised by a nurse maid. In his later plays there are often such maids and servant girls.

Molière was a commuter student at the Collège de Clermont behind the Sorbonne and trained by the Jesuits who had a tremendous hold on educating the young in this period. Nobility and the well-to-do bourgeois were schooled together but segregated by a “golden barrier” of identity – an illiberal, reactionary practice. Molière received a strict, excellent education and was a Latinist. He went to Orléans to study law but didn’t pursue it. His father sent him to Narbonne to be a royal tapestry maker (the family business) but Molière was idealistic and chose to be in theater. Following his bliss, twenty-something Molière – around the time of the film scene – was close to penniless for the next 15 years.

Following the queen of the sciences (theology), cultural authorities officially ordered the boycott of theater as immoral. But the people in Paris mostly ignored these bought-and-paid-for kill joys of church and state and the theater life thrived.

Molière’s first theater production flops; bailed out of debtor’s prison by a street contractor

By the 17th century the Renaissance social fad of tennis had faded away and Molière rented empty courts for the theater. He joined Madeliene Béjart, four years older, and from a family of actors, and established his first theater.

To build the theater, Molière fell into debt in 1644. The first performances were a complete flop and Molière was thrown into debtor’s prison for 3 days until a paving contractor paid the bail to spring the young actor and writer, a remarkable historical fact. Molière’s first theater was auctioned off with the proceeds going to his creditors.

In 1646 Molière’s troupe relocated to the provinces, specifically Nantes. Success was fleeting and Molière very close to returning to his father’s business as a tapestry maker. Molière, like his fellow actors, could only afford to wear his street clothes on stage – or vice versa. Molière was part of just one theatre troupe among about one thousand in France.

Over time Molière’s troupe was moderately successful performing all over the Mediterranean. Though Molière kept a notebook to record his ideas and character types these personal items have been lost to history.

Portrait of Molière, c. 1658 , Pierre Mignard (1612-1695), Château de Chantilly. Pierre Mignard is one of the major classic French portrait artists. When he crossed paths with Molière in Avignon in 1658, after having worked in Orange and Saint-Rémy, a great friendship started between the two men, until the death of the writer in 1673. The painting in Chantilly probably dates from this meeting, because the model appears to be less than forty years old.

In Languedoc the governor was the king’s cousin, and brother-in-law to Mazarin’s son-in-law. The royals hired Molière but then Mazarin’s son-in-law had a religious awakening and ditched the mistress, returned to his wife and banished the theatre.  Molière was suddenly cancelled. Allowance of theater based on moral grounds would continue to evolve – though society enjoyed its entertainment value. Finding a need and then filling it, Molière sold drama as morality (and vice versa) and always cut it close to the bone.

It is around this same time that Molière – acquiring the favor of the king – wrote the first of his great works – Précieuses Ridicules in 1659. In 1662 he married Madeleine Béjart’s younger sister (Armande), though it was not a happy one. The king was godfather to their child where Molière performed at the Palais Royal for the king and royal family.

Artist’s imaginary depiction of Lully’s Armide, Salle du Palais-Royal, 1761, by Gabriel de Saint-Aubin (1724-1780), Boston Museum of Fine Arts.

The middle 1660s was a high point for Molière’s plays – Tartuffe; Festin de Pierre (Don Juan) and Le Misanthrope were all written in those same two or three years (1664-1666). These greatest comedies of enduring genius, however, were not well received in its day by an obliging audience who took governance and religion very seriously. A prosperous man wanting to retain his hard-earned social position and yet continue to practice his theory of the stage as the layman’s pulpit, Molière fell back on lighter, innocuous spectacles to teach and entertain French society for the remainder of his life.

At rest in Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris since 1817, Molière was denied a Catholic burial in 1673

Molière died in 1673 at 51 years old. Denied a religious burial for the simple fact that he was a theater actor, Molière was surreptitiously buried in a Catholic cemetery in the section of unbaptized infants. In 1792, during the French Revolution, Molière’s remains were transferred to the museum of French Monuments. In 1817, Molière was laid to rest in Père Lachaise Cemetery where he lies today.

Molière’s Tomb, Père-Lachaise Cemetery, Paris, 1854, Etching in warm black on ivory laid paper, The Art Institute of Chicago.

Molière’s legacy

Tartuffe disguises himself as a virtuous man and is a hypocrite. As the French celebrate Molière’s 400th birth anniversary they reflect on the relevance of Molière’s drama for today. Some argue that false faces in democracy are just as numerous as those in mid17th century Paris though perhaps in a different way.

The cancel culture can be said to derive of Tartuffe. Though not displaying a purely religious hypocrisy as in Molière’s original character, today’s Tartuffe hates the individual heart’s freedoms and hides their will to crack down on people by citing the “common good” or other platitude which usually includes a spectrum of needs and fears. Notions of superiority, duplicity, and simple stupidity are present in Molière’s Tartuffe – that is, the hypocritical type of 350 years ago. 

A supposed offense today is paired with Molière’s hypocrite of 350 years ago against a partisan viewpoint of the “higher interest” with its obligations and payments “overdue” to them from which as a penalty and means requires the ban, cancellation, and banishment –yet, almost conveniently, not of one’s fragile self, if opposed. While the perennial distrust of politicians is well known, today’s social breakdown is broader and endemic – with the inflation of hypocrisy a common denominator. 

Like a popular play on an outdoor stage in 17th century Paris, hypocrites can be better recognized, fortunately or not, by type. The use of virtue signaling – a brittle stance seen, heard, and understood at the first – can be one such type. When it becomes evident that it also serves their hidden ends, the audience, assuming its role, heckles and boos those stock farce characters off the stage with gusto.

Though censorship and restrictions of thought and action of others in its many forms is hardly always the result of hypocrisy, hypocrites (whichever side of the fence their belief or opinion may fall) are certain to take the short route to do so. Molière would have sufficient material today to write and perform another of his great dramas for our time and under a similar menace of cancellation by those powers grown antagonistic to his content, who can lower the curtain, at times overhastily, when opportunity enters.

Land, Sea, Sky — Winter. (33 Photos).

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Biagio Governali (Italy), East Bronze Door – The Luminous Mysteries, 2004, The Shrine of Our Lady of Pompeii, Chicago, IL.

FEATURE IMAGE: Detail (top portion) of the East Bronze Door by Italian artist Biagio Governali depicting the Luminous Mysteries of the Rosary. The Shrine of Our Lady of Pompeii, Chicago.

The four exterior doors of the Shrine of Our Lady of Pompeii in Chicago  – known as The Bronze Doors of the Holy Rosary of Our Salvation – visually narrate the twenty mysteries of the Rosary – the Joyful, Sorrowful, Glorious and Luminous mysteries. The East Bronze Door narrates the five Luminous mysteries.

Inspired by the main gate (“Porta del Paradiso”) of the Baptistry of Florence made by Florentine goldsmith and sculptor Lorenzo Ghiberti (1378-1455) between 1425 and 1452 and located in front of Florence’s cathedral, the contemporary bronze doors in Chicago were made by Biagio Governali, native of Corleone, Italy. With the artist following the time-honored methods of bronze relief sculpture used by medieval and Renaissance artists, the doors were dedicated and blessed by Francis Cardinal George, O.M.I. (1937-2015), on October 11, 2004.

Our Lady of Pompeii was originally established in Chicago in 1911 as an Italian national parish and is the oldest continuing Italian-American Catholic Church in Chicago. The Shrine of Our Lady of Pompeii was proclaimed in 1994 by Joseph Cardinal Bernardin (1928-1996) as a place to pray for peace that embraces pilgrims of all faiths. The bronze doors are intended to endure as a herald of the Catholic faith and give homage to the Shrine’s Italian roots.

Chicago. University Village/Little Italy. East Bronze Door (complete exterior), Luminous Mysteries of the Rosary. The Shrine of Our Lady of Pompeii, 12/2013 6.89 mb

Pope Saint John Paul II (1920-2005) established the Luminous Mysteries near the end of his almost 27-year pontificate in 2002. About the entire rosary itself the pope said, “To meditate on the mysteries of the Rosary is to look into the face of Christ.”

According to The Catholic Encyclopedia (“The Rosary,” Herbert Thurston and Andrew Shipman, volume 13, Robert Appleton Company), the structure of the rosary including its 15 mysteries (five each for Joyful, Sorrowful, and Glorious) had been officially unchanged for 500 years – from the 16th to 20th centuries.

In 2002, Pope John Paul II instituted the five Luminous Mysteries. In his Apostolic Letter, Rosarium Virginis Mariae, published on October 16, 2002, the pope marked out 4 broad areas as reasons to pray the rosary:

1. The rosary aids in contemplating Christ with Mary;

2. The rosary aids in contemplating the mysteries of Mary;

3. The rosary is a way of assimilating the mystery of “It is no longer I that live, but Christ lives in me” (Galatians 2:20); and,

4. The rosary is a way of praying for, and arriving at, peace in one’s life, family, neighborhood, and in the world.

In the same letter (Chapter 3), the pope observed that icons and other religious visual images can assist the human imagination to meditate and contemplate upon the mysteries of the Christian faith, particularly those of the rosary. Appealing to the Church’s traditional spirituality as well as that of St. Ignatius of Loyola (1491-1556) in The Spiritual Exercises, the pope’s exhortation to artistic representations as aiding mental prayer imbues Chicago’s great bronze portals depicting the mysteries of the rosary with the authenticity of standing at the threshold between time and eternity and the sacred and profane.

The pope acknowledged that although all the rosary’s 20 mysteries can be termed “luminous” – that is, pertaining to mysteries of light – the five new Luminous mysteries fill the gap between the infancy and hidden life of Christ (i.e., Joyful) and Holy Week from Palm Sunday to Resurrection Day (i.e., Sorrowful and Glorious).

The Luminous mysteries present five significant moments from Christ’s public ministry. Each of these mysteries, the pope writes, “is a revelation of the Kingdom now present in the very person of Jesus.” (For more see- https://www.vatican.va/content/john-paul-ii/en/apost_letters/2002/documents/hf_jp-ii_apl_20021016_rosarium-virginis-mariae.html).  

Chicago. University Village/Little Italy. East Bronze Door (detail, top), The Shrine of Our Lady of Pompeii, 12/2013 3.60 mb

Luminous Mysteries

1. The Baptism in the Jordan (top, left)

“And when Jesus was baptized, he went up immediately from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and alighting on him; and lo, a voice from heaven, saying, ‘This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased.”‘ (Matthew 3:16-17).

2. The Wedding Feast of Cana (top, right)

“On the third day there was a marriage at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there; Jesus also was invited to the marriage, with his disciples. When the wine failed, the mother of Jesus said to him, ‘They have no wine.’ And Jesus said to her, ‘O woman, what have you to do with me? My hour has not yet come.’ His mother said to the servants, ‘Do whatever he tells you.”‘ (John 2:1-5).

5. The Institution of the Eucharist (center)

“Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed, and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, ‘Take, eat; this is my body.”‘ (Matthew 26:26).

Chicago. University Village/Little Italy. East Bronze Door (detail, bottom), The Shrine of Our Lady of Pompeii, 12/2013 3.48 mb

3. The Proclamation of the Kingdom of God (bottom, left)

“The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent, and believe in the gospel.” (Mark 1:15).

4. The Transfiguration (bottom, right)

“And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain apart. And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his garments became white as light.” (Matthew 17:1-2).

 

Biagio Governali (Italy), Central Bronze Doors—The Sorrowful and Glorious Mysteries of the Rosary, 2004, The Shrine of Our Lady of Pompeii, Chicago, IL.

FEATURE IMAGE: Detail (top portion) of the Central Bronze Door by Italian artist Biagio Governali. On the left are the five Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary and on the right are the five Glorious Mysteries of the Rosary.

Chicago. University Village/Little Italy. Central Bronze Door (complete exterior), Sorrowful Mysteries (left) and Glorious Mysteries (right) of the Rosary.The Shrine of Our Lady of Pompeii, 12/2013 4.61 mb

The exterior doors of the Shrine of Our Lady of Pompeii in Chicago visually narrate the twenty mysteries of the Rosary. These are the Joyful, Sorrowful, Glorious and Luminous mysteries. The faithful can use each door panel as a meditation to pray each decade of the Rosary.

In Europe, most of the complete works of art that have survived undamaged and unrestored from the Middle Ages and Renaissance to today are bronze doors, most of which are in Italy.

Even when the Shrine doors are closed, the sanctuary calls to all passersby to look, ponder, and personally experience the Gospel that these doors present in its fine artwork of the mysteries of the Rosary.

The Central Bronze Door’s Artwork Explained

Sorrowful Mysteries (left panel) and Glorious Mysteries (right panel).

Sorrowful Mysteries

1. The Agony in the Garden (top, left)

“Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples, ‘Sit here, while I go yonder and pray.’ And taking with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then he said to them, ‘My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me.’ And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, ‘My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.'” (Matthew 26:36-39).

2. The Scourging at the Pillar (top, right)

“Pilate released Barabbas to them, but after he had Jesus scourged, he handed him over to be crucified.” (Matthew 27:26).

3. The Crowning With Thorns (center, left)

“Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the praetorium, and they gathered the whole battalion before him. And they stripped him and put a scarlet robe upon him, and plaiting a crown of thorns they put it on his head, and put a reed in his right hand. And kneeling before him they mocked him, saying, ‘Hail, King of the Jews!'” (Matthew 27:27-29).

4. The Carrying of the Cross (center, right)

“And they compelled a passer-by, Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the country, the father of Alexander and Rufus, to carry his cross. And they brought him to the place called Golgotha (which means the place of a skull).” (Mark 15:21-22).

5. The Crucifixion and Death of Jesus with Mary and John (center)

“And when they came to the place which is called The Skull, there they crucified him, and the criminals, one on the right and one on the left. And Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do’ …It was now about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour, while the sun’s light failed; and the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Then Jesus, crying with a loud voice, said, ‘Father, into thy hands I commit my spirit!’ And having said this he breathed his last” (Luke 23:33-46). 

Glorious Mysteries

1. The Resurrection of Jesus (center)

“But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they went to the tomb, taking the spices which they had prepared. And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in they did not find the body. While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men stood by them in dazzling apparel; and as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, ‘Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen.”‘ (Luke 24:1-5).

2. The Ascension of Our Lord into Heaven (top, left)

“So then the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God.” (Mark 16:19).

3. The Holy Spirit comes upon Mary and the Apostles (top, right)

“When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly a sound came from heaven like the rush of a mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them tongues as of fire, distributed and resting on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.” (Acts of the Apostles 2:1-4).

4. The Assumption of Mary into Heaven (bottom, left)

“Henceforth all generations will call me blessed; for he who is mighty has done great things for me.” (Luke 1:48-49).

5. The Coronation of Mary as Queen of Heaven (bottom, right)

“And a great portent appeared in heaven, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars.” (Revelation12:1).

Chicago. University Village/Little Italy. Central Bronze Door -Sorrowful Mysteries panel (detail), The Shrine of Our Lady of Pompeii, 12/2013 1.55 mb

At the bottom of the Sorrowful Mysteries bronze door, the angels hold a tablet emblazoned with Latin text that contains statements on the rosary by two post-Vatican II modern popes. A translation of the text reveals the importance of the rosary to Pope Paul VI (1897-1978) and John Paul II (1920-2005), both canonized saints. Pope Paul VI: “Without contemplation, the Rosary is a body without a soul.” Pope John Paul II: “To meditate on the mysteries of the Rosary is to look into the face of Christ.”

Biagio Governali (Italy), West Bronze Door—The Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary, 2004, The Shrine of Our Lady of Pompeii, Chicago, IL.

FEATURE IMAGE: Detail (top portion) of the West Door depicting three of the five Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary: The Annunciation (Luke 1:26-38), The Visitation (Luke 1: 39-56) and the Nativity (Luke 2:1-20; Matthew 1:18-2:23).

Chicago. University Village/Little Italy. West Bronze Door (exterior), The Shrine of Our Lady of Pompeii, 12/2013 6.72 mb

The West Bronze Door, dedicated in 2004, depicts the five Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary at the Shrine of Our Lady of Pompeii (1923), 1224 West Lexington Street in Chicago. Clockwise from top left, the Annunciation (Luke 1:26-38), the Visitation (Luke 1:39-56), the Nativity of Jesus (Luke 2:1-20; Matthew 1:18-2:23), the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple (Luke 2:22-40) and Christ among the Doctors (Finding in the Temple) (Luke 2:41-52). The shrine is the oldest continuous Italian-American Catholic Church in Chicago and is today a place to pray for peace that embraces pilgrims of all faiths.

Our Lady of Pompeii was originally established in Chicago in 1911 as an Italian national parish. The present church building at 1224 West Lexington Street in Chicago’s westside University Village/Little Italy neighborhood was constructed in 1923 and dedicated to Mary, Queen of the Rosary in 1924. The parish began under the Scalabrinian Missionaries, a religious institute founded in Italy in 1887 to aid and serve the Italian immigrants to America.

In 1994 Joseph Cardinal Bernardin proclaimed Our Lady of Pompeii church a Shrine, dedicated to honor Mary, the Mother of God and Queen of the Holy Rosary. Ten years later practically to the day, Francis Cardinal George, O.M.I. dedicated the Shrine’s bronze doors. On that same October day in 2004, Bishop Carlo Liberati, Pontifical Delegate to the Shrine of The Blessed Virgin of The Holy Rosary in Pompeii, Italy, established “a most fervent and fraternal link of communion” between the shrine in Pompeii, Italy, and that of Our Lady of Pompeii in Chicago.

Inspired by the main gate (“Porta del Paradiso”) of the Baptistry of Florence made by Florentine goldsmith and sculptor Lorenzo Ghiberti (1378-1455) between 1425 and 1452 and located in front of Florence’s cathedral, the bronze doors in Chicago were made by Biagio Governali, native of Corleone, Italy. The artist modeled each panel in wax which were then sent to Verona, Italy, to be cast in bronze and polished. These Veronese craftsmen came to Chicago on two occasions to mount and position the doors before they were dedicated and blessed by Cardinal George in 2004.

Joyful Mysteries

1. The Annunciation (top, left)

“In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary.” (Luke 1:26-27).

2. The Visitation (top, right)

“In those days Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a city of Judah, and she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and she exclaimed with a loud cry, ‘Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb!”‘ (Luke 1:39-42).

3. The Nativity of Jesus (center)

“In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be enrolled. This was the first enrolment, when Quirinius was governor of Syria. And all went to be enrolled, each to his own city.
And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be enrolled with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. And while they were there, the time came for her to be delivered. And she gave birth to her first-born son and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.” (Luke 2:1-7).

Chicago. University Village/Little Italy. West Door (detail), The Shrine of Our Lady of Pompeii, 12/2013 4.42 mb

4. The Presentation in the Temple (bottom, left)

“And at the end of eight days, when he was circumcised, he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb. And when the time came for their purification according to the law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the law of the Lord, ‘Every male that opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord’) and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the law of the Lord, ‘a pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.”‘ (Luke 2:21-24).

5. The Finding of Jesus in the Temple (bottom, right)

“Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the feast of the Passover. And when he was twelve years old, they went up according to custom; and when the feast was ended, as they were returning, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. His parents did not know it …
After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions; and all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers.” (Luke 2:41-47).

SOURCES:

Two Examples of Historic Stained Glass Windows at Saints Peter and Paul Church (1927) in Naperville, Illinois: The Ascension of Jesus into Heaven and The Assumption of Mary into Heaven windows. (14 Photos).

Saints Peter and Paul Catholic Church in Naperville, Illinois, a western suburb of Chicago, in July 2021. Looking to the northeast from Central Park, the church building seats 1000 people and was dedicated in September 1927. In 2021 the parish marked its 175th anniversary. Founded in 1846, the parish is the oldest continuously operating Catholic parish in DuPage County. Down the decades its pastors (Frs. Rainaldi, Zuker, Wenker, Stenger, Lennon, Milota, and others) led Saints Peter and Paul adjacent to Naperville’s Historic District to where the parish with its school today serves 4,000 families. Photograph by author.

A magnificent church building sits on Ellsworth Street in Naperville, Illinois, close by the Historic District. With an orientation out of the darkness of the west into the light of the east, Saints Peter and Paul greets worshippers with two soaring steeples. The neo-Gothic red brick and limestone structure was commissioned in 1922 by the parish’s 350 families and dedicated five years later. Today the parish in Chicago’s western suburb serves 4.000 families and contains historically significant bright colored traditional European painted stained-glass windows from Innsbruck, Austria. In this archival photograph, the view of the church building from around the time of its dedication is looking towards the southeast.

BETWEEN 1870 AND 1930, ART GLASS OF GERMANY AND AUSTRIA COMES TO AMERICA, PARTICULARLY TO CHICAGO’S CHURCHES

The colorful stained-glass windows in Saints Peter and Paul Catholic Church in Naperville, Illinois, a western suburb of Chicago, were ordered, produced, and installed towards the end of a 60-year-long run for the predominance of German and Austrian-made stained glass found in heritage Chicagoland churches today.

With only a couple of exceptions, the stained glass in Naperville’s historically pioneer and, later, German Catholic parish church was created in the mid1920s in Innsbruck, Austria. Innsbruck at the time was one of the European centers of stained-glass making. It is about 100 miles south of Munich, Germany, the home base of two other popular and well-regarded stained-glass studios – that of Franz Mayer & Company and F.X Zettler Company. These art glass manufacturers notably filled many Chicagoland Catholic churches starting in the 1870s. After the Great Chicago Fire in 1871, a building and population boom commenced in the city and its surrounding communities that went on for over a century unabated. In addition, from the 1870s to the 1920s, Chicago became the most influential center of Catholic culture in the United States.1

It was a unique period of history for Catholic churches in America whose state-of-the-art church design usually included brightly colored art (stained) glass windows. These windows often displayed action-packed scenes from the Bible, including episodes from the life of Christ, His Blessed Mother, or a patron saint.

This continuous appeal over multiple generations for the purchases of vast orders of Munich and Austrian style glass in U.S. Catholic churches declined greatly starting in the 1930’s with the onset of the Great Depression. The European traditional glass market did not recover its former popularity making its stained-glass windows from 1870 to 1930 in Chicagoland churches – including Saints Peter and Paul Church in Naperville – increasingly rare and valuable to preserve and appreciate.

Stained glass made by Tyrol Art Glass Company of Innsbruck, Austria, and Franz Mayer and F.X. Zettler of Munich, Germany, was characterized by its traditional painted stained glass. This style fit into the traditional-style church architecture that Catholic parishes, such as Saints Peter and Paul in Naperville, and many others, built between 1870 and 1930. By the mid20th century these European traditional glass makers faced competition from the rise of American glass manufacturers such as Louis Comfort Tiffany (1848-1933) which extended to quality, price, and style. Tiffany stained glass which frequently incorporated natural scenery elements, contained intricately cut opaque and opalescent glass, overlaid with wide varieties in thickness. This product became better fitted into modern worship spaces which were often smaller. Such modern art and architectural trends worked to displace traditional glass made in Europe used for grandiose classically styled houses of worship that were from an earlier historical period.

In the late 19th century, Tyrol Art Glass Company of Innsbruck, Austria, with the Munich studios of Franz Mayer and F.X. Zettler, began to send representatives to sell their new patterns for churches in Chicago and around the United States. These three studios often worked together and their style is basically interchangeable. In Saints Peter and Paul Church – as well as many other churches with classically-styled  architecture – traditional painted stained glass was the stand-out choice, It is usually very colorful whose iconography often depicts highly recognizable religious, often biblical, scenes and religious symbolism. This is definitely the situation with the beautiful stained-glass windows of Saints Peter and Paul in Naperville, including the Ascension of Jesus into Heaven and the Assumption of Mary into Heaven windows.

HOW SAINTS PETER AND PAUL CATHOLIC CHURCH GOT STARTED AND GREW IN NAPERVILLE, ILLINOIS

Naperville, Illinois, a western suburb of Chicago, was founded in 1831 – the oldest town in DuPage County.2 With its origins as a mixed settlement of Easterners and Hoosiers, Naperville’s strong religious character was established starting in the 1830s.3 Today it boasts a population of around 150,000 and is one of Illinois’s largest cities. The downtown area is bustling with shops and motor vehicle and foot traffic, yet Naperville’s 19th century origins can still be found in and around the DuPage River with its River Walk and its Historic District that maintain much of the suburb’s original charm and historic significance.

Saints Peter and Paul Catholic Church in Naperville was founded in 1846 and is the oldest continuously operating Catholic parish in DuPage County. The county was established in 1839 with Naperville originally as the county seat. This changed in 1867 when, by county referendum, Wheaton became the county seat which it remains today. Naperville’s first religious institutions were the East Branch Settlement, Congregationalist, Evangelical, and Baptist churches. These churches were all established in Naperville between 1833 and 1843.4

The Catholic parish was originally founded as a mission of the Joliet Catholic Church – Joliet, Illinois, about 20 miles to the south of Naperville is its Diocese headquarters today. In the 1840s, when Illinois was the edge of the frontier, a priest traveled the rigorous 20-mile journey – Naperville did not get a railroad for another 30 years (1864) – once a month to say mass in pioneers’ homes. The first church, named St. Raphael’s for Fr. Raphael Rainaldi, the first pastor, was a small frame structure with a lean-to across the street from today’s church building. In the 1840s the church served about 25 families – 175 years later it serves 4,000 families.5

The first official act at Saints Peter and Paul Church was a festive event – the wedding of Mr. Robert Le Beau to Miss Emily Beaubien, recorded on Tuesday, September 8, 1846. The parish also purchased an acre of land for a cemetery.

In 1852 the church was enlarged by a frame addition and Fr. Charles Zuker established a parish school in the lean-to with a lay headmaster. In 1855 the first school building was built. By 1864 the first frame church building was used for school purposes as the cornerstone was laid for a new stone church on the site of the present church building. By this time the parish was renamed to Saints Peter & Paul by Fr. Peter Fisher and the parish had grown to about 250 families. The stone had been obtained locally from the parish’s own quarry along the DuPage River. The new stone church building was dedicated in 1866 and the school now served around 100 students.6

Continual improvements were made to the parish church and grounds in the 1870s and 1880s so that by the start of the 1890s, following Naperville’s incorporation as a city, the parish launched significant building projects. In 1892, a year where it rained almost all that spring, a new brick school building for the parish’s 200 students was built that cost $30,000. Saints Peter and Paul also built a new rectory in anticipation of the new century.

c. 1874, looking west, the corner of Ellsworth Street and Benton Avenue. the complex of buildings of Saints Peter and Paul parish, Naperville, Illinois.

In the 1880’s Naperville, illinois, like much of the rest of the country, expanded its industrial base, grew its city services, such as the fire department and city hall, and established new utilities including the first public telephone service.

With its new wealth generated by industry, Naperville built some of its first impressive homes. Shops and stores were established to service them. While agrarian in flavor, by the end of the 1880’s and into the early 1890s Naperville was already a bustling, modern, forward-thinking city. In 1893 Naperville hosted its first “Bicycle Parade” – a big public affair whose purpose was to “show our citizens the increased interest lately in this comparatively new mode of locomotion.”

In the 1890s the area that included Saints Peter and Paul Church, other denominational churches, and Northwestern College (renamed North Central College in 1926) affiliated with the United Methodist Church, came to be known around town as “Piety Corners.”

With the appearance of the first cars in the 1900s, Naperville was well on its way to an era of accelerated expansion and growth that continues in the 21st century.7

Saints Peter and Paul’s old stone church is to the far right. In the background left is the belfry of the Main Building at North Western College built in 1870. North Western College was founded in 1861 as Plainfield College in Plainfield, Illinois. It was renamed to North Western College in 1864 and, with the enticement of 8 acres of donated land and $25,000 from Naperville, relocated to Naperville in 1870. In 1926 it was again renamed to today’s North Central College. For over 140 years the college has had a great deal of influence on the educational and cultural life of Naperville. In 2021, with an enrollment of 3,000 students and 700 employees, North Central College is one of Naperville’s top ten employers.8
c. 1904, view of Sts. Peter and Paul stone church building from the belfry of the College’s Main Building.

In 1911 the school was badly damaged by fire. When a new school opened the next year, 250 students were enrolled.9

In the 1920’s Naperville boasted around 5,000 residents. In June 1922 (sources vary whether it was on June 4 or June 8) the old stone church quarried from the parish’s own quarry and dedicated in 1866 was destroyed by an arsonist’s fire. By this time, the parish’s 350 Naperville families were from mostly German-speaking countries in Europe. Naperville’s quarries had brought waves of German immigrants to the city since the 1850’s since they knew how to mine and cut stone. After the devastating 1922 fire, the parish chose to rebuild their church in a magnificent red brick traditional cruciform-shape. It was dedicated on Sunday, September 25, 1927. The half German, half Irish Cardinal-Archbishop of Chicago, George Mundelein (1872-1939), participated in the dedication ceremony. This remains the church building that exists today and which contains its lovely and historically significant stained glass from Innsbruck, Austria. In 1927 the cost of the church building was $407,785 – or about $6.5 million today.10

WHO WERE SAINTS PETER AND PAUL?

El Greco (1541-1641), Saint Peter in Tears, 1587-1596, oil on canvas, 109 cm (42.9 in) x 88 cm (34.6 in), Toledo, Spain.

St. Peter is the Rock, or “Cephas,” of Jesus Christ’s church. In Matthew 16 Jesus tells Simon, son of John, brother to Andrew the apostle and a married fisherman by trade: “I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven” (Mt 16: 18-19). Peter denied Christ three times before the crucifixion that is described in all four New Testament Gospels.

After Jesus Christ’s Resurrection (Mark 16, Matthew 28, Luke 24, Acts 1, John 20 and 1 Corinthians 15) and Ascension into Heaven (Luke 24:50. Acts 1, John 3:13, John 6:62, John 20:17, Romans 8:34, Ephesians 1:19-20, Colossians 3:1, Philippians 2:9-11, 1 Timothy 3:16, and 1 Peter 3:21-22) and following the events of Pentecost (Acts 2), Peter led an important life as a Christian evangelist and Church leader.

Though St. Paul’s pastoral heritage in his 13 letters were highly influential for the early church where he writes on church structure, the theology of the Body of Christ, and the nature of the Holy Spirit, St. Peter also has an epistemological heritage which explores the People of God.11 These best-known apostles also both died in the 60s. For the rest of that critical first century of Christianity – until when John’s Gospel was written in the 90s – the churches had to go without two of its greatest authoritative figures who had seen the risen Jesus.

St. Peter was martyred by crucifixion in 64 A.D. in Rome. He requested he be crucified upside down on an x-shaped cross, as witness to the apostle’s prolonged sorrow over his denial of Christ. On the church calendar, St. Peter’s feasts are June 29 and February 22.


Rembrandt, The Apostle Paul, oil on canvas, 1633.

St. Paul is one of Church history’s most significant figures. As Saul of Tarsus, the scholar, rabbi, and Roman citizen, zealously persecuted the first Christians and was personally present at the stoning of the first Christian martyr, Stephen (Acts 7: 54-60). On the road to Damascus making “murderous threats” towards Christians (Acts 9:1), Paul encounters the risen Jesus. The passage reads: “Suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” “Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked. “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” he replied. “Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.” (Acts 9:4-6).

The jolting event changed Paul’s life and outlook. More than anyone else in the Church’s first years, Paul realized Christianity’s universal message. Paul’s letters to various Christian communities in Corinth, Ephesus, and Rome, show him to be a solicitous and sometimes stern and exhorting pastor who had a deeply personal spiritual experience of the Lord. About half of the books of the New Testament are Paul’s writings that  express his profound openness to humanity and its cultures which made him “Apostle of the Gentiles” and “Teacher of the Nations.”

Paul was martyred somewhere between 64 and 68 A. D. The circumstances of his death are not entirely known, although early Christian writers related that Paul was beheaded. St. Paul shares a feast with St. Peter on June 29.

THE WINDOWS

The Ascension of Jesus into Heaven.

North Transept, Ascension of Christ into Heaven, 1927, Tyrol Art Glass Company, Innsbruck, Austria. Sts. Peter and Paul Church, Naperville, Illinois.

The Ascension of Jesus is recounted twice in the New Testament  – and both times by Luke the Evangelist. One account is in his Gospel (Luke 24:50-53) and a second is in his Book of Acts of the Apostles (Acts 1: 6-12).

One important difference in the accounts is that in Acts Luke mentions the appearance of Jesus for 40 days after the Resurrection until His Ascension. While it sets a time limit on Jesus’s appearances, it presents His sustained manifold appearances after the Resurrection to the apostles. It also situates the apostles and Christian community into salvation history’s imagery of Israel’s covenant.12 Luke’s tradition likely would not have separated the Resurrection and Ascension events in time except for the clarity of a narrative purpose.13

The account of the Ascension in Acts 1:6-12 reads:

6 ”When they had gathered together they asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?”

7 He answered them: “It is not for you to know the times or seasons that the Father has established by his own authority.

8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

9 When he had said this, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him from their sight.

10 While they were looking intently at the sky as he was going, suddenly two men dressed in white garments stood beside them.

11 They said, “Men of Galilee, why are you standing there looking at the sky? This Jesus who has been taken up from you into heaven will return in the same way as you have seen him going into heaven.”j

12 Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a sabbath day’s journey away. (New American Bible)

As Jesus rose from the dead it is clear to the disciples that he is the Messiah so their question as to when he will restore political self-rule to Israel is not illogical although Jesus was never a political leader in his historical ministry. Luke is writing his Gospel and Acts as a faith document for future Christians, so that Jesus‘s reply to their question about the kingdom of God’s ultimate temporal nature is indeterminate. In the next verses (7 and 8) Jesus tells them that the Second Coming (“Parousia”) is not a question for them to be asking God. Rather, it is important for them to bear witness to Him by ways of the power of the Holy Spirit for whom they should wait. Finally, as Jerusalem was the place of Jesus’s Passion, Death and Resurrection, the Holy City is where the Christians will start their mission that will reach to the ends of the earth.14

Another important detail Luke includes in Acts is that when Jesus is lifted up into heaven a cloud has intervened to take him from the apostles’ sight. St. Luke’s cloud imagery was used later in writings and reflections by the Christian mystics (i.e., The Cloud of Unknowing). Further, the Ascension takes place on Mount Olivet, which had eschatological or end times allusions. After Jesus is lifted up two figures appear in dazzling garments signaling the angelic presence as appeared at the Resurrection (Luke 24:4-7). The cloud image Luke uses is also linked to end times (Luke 21:27) or parousia – in that Jesus taken up in the Ascension “will come (again) in the same way that you saw him going.” (Acts1:11).

detail, Christ, Ascension window, Sts. Peter and Paul, Naperville, IL

In the Ascension of Christ into Heaven window, Christ is surrounded by a band of clouds and yet remains in a golden area representing the fiery light of God. Christ wears a multi-colored robe – red representing his death by crucifixion; purple representing his Divinity; and white representing martyrdom emblazoned with four-lobed crosses representing the four Gospels or the four corners of the earth.

Christ’s halo is elaborated in three parts. There are usually three Greek letters found in Christ’s cruciform halo that in translation spell out “He Who is” or “ I Am Who Am.” These are absent, however, in this stained-glass window’s cruciform halo.

Hierarchy of angels

There are eight angels in the window representing the hierarchy of angels. The baby heads of the cherubim – the lowest tier of angels – are accompanied by seraphim, the highest order of angels. Their name “archangel” literally means “chief angel.” Traditionally these highest order of angels are warlike in appearance and bear a sword, This is especially the case with the iconography of St. Michael the Archangel who leads God’s angels in battle to cast Satan and his angels out of heaven as told in the New Testament Book of Revelation.

The seraphim in this stained-glass depiction, however, carry palm branches in place of swords. In the years following World War I when this stained glass was made, the Austrian art glass manufacturer may have sought to symbolize angelic power by ways of symbols of peace. The fact that the range of angels from lowest to highest is present in the window appears to signal the presence of the whole choir of angels present at the Ascension of Jesus into heaven.15

detail, angel, Ascension window, Sts. Peter and Paul, Naperville, IL.
detail, angel, Ascension window, Sts. Peter and Paul, Naperville, IL.

Depicted at the bottom of the window is Mary and the 12 apostles. This was not precisely accurate to the New Testament for at the Ascension there were only 11 apostles. However, the replacement of Judas by Matthias took place almost immediately following the Ascension narrative (Acts of the Apostles 1:21–26).

In the center of the window at the bottom between Mary and a kneeling apostle with his right arm stretched out is an interesting detail. It is the outline of Christ’s feet showing where his resurrected body stood and was lifted directly from earth into heaven. This is significant beyond a souvenir of Jesus’s earthly memory, in that Mount Olivet from which the resurrected Jesus was lifted into heaven is exact the place to which “the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory” (Luke 21:27) will return at the end of the world. In that way, the window is a depiction of the Ascension and one that points to the Second Coming of Christ.

detail, outline of jesus’s feet, Ascension window, Sts. Peter and Paul, Naperville, IL.

Each of the apostle’s halos are unique. Mary’s halo has 12 stars as she is often pictured with a circle of stars. The Zodiac is an ancient circle of stars where some are symbolically combined into 12-star signs or constellations.

detail, apostles, Ascension window, Sts. Peter and Paul, Naperville, IL.
detail, apostles, Ascension window, Sts. Peter and Paul, Naperville, IL.

Jesus’ Ascension – his going “up” to heaven – is the same imagery used for the Assumption of Mary. It is figurative to express the spiritual. The biblical heaven is mysterious. It is the intimate reserve of God and as God is pure spirit (John 4:24), the question arises, how does Heaven incorporate the resurrected fleshly body of Christ at His Ascension?

It is explained starting with the Incarnation at the Annunciation to Mary (Luke 1:26-38) where the divine humanity of Jesus, the Word who was “with God, and…was God (John 1:1) begins. In the Ascension, the Person of Christ is fulfilled where the “new, saved man” enters heaven into the intimacy of the Father, and becomes the perfect God-Man. As “God is love” (I John 4:16), the manner of being of the body in Christ in heaven, the perfect God-man, is love.16

The Ascension is followed by Pentecost when the Apostles receive the Holy Spirit from Heaven and will speak thereafter of “Christ (in Heaven) in us.”

detail, rondelle, Christ the King, Ascension window, Sts. Peter and Paul, Naperville, IL.

The upper rondelle represents Christ the King. Christ’s crown obscures his elaborate three-part halo. The Greek letters on either side represent the “alpha” (“the beginning”) and the “omega” (“the ending”) which indicates Christ’s Godhead. Christ the King holds in his hands the symbols of the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist in the consecration of the Mass. in his right hand is the species of bread and wine that become the Body and Blood of Christ and in his left hand is the wood beam of the cross whose sacrifice on Calvary the Eucharist memorializes. Christ the King also reveals his Sacred Heart – a popular Catholic devotion- inside his chest. His heart is depicted as aflame encircled by a crown of thorns signifying his agape (or sacrificial) love. The entire Ascension window was the gift of Mr. and Mrs. William David Callender, parish members in the mid1920s.

detail, halo of stars, Ascension window, Sts. Peter and Paul, Naperville, IL.

In the New Testament, the Woman of the Apocalypse and the battle of St. Michael the Archangel against the Dragon are bound together in the same dramatic narrative in the Book of Revelation (Rev.12:1-9). The Woman with a crown of 12 stars who is against the Dragon in the Book of Revelation has been identified with Mary, particularly as the Immaculate Conception. This is how Mary is depicted in the Ascension of Christ into Heaven window at Sts. Peter and Paul.

The New Testament passage setting out these images is in Revelation 12:1-9:

1 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.

2 She was with child and wailed aloud in pain as she labored to give birth.

3 Then another sign appeared in the sky; it was a huge red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns, and on its heads were seven diadems.

4 Its tail swept away a third of the stars in the sky and hurled them down to the earth. Then the dragon stood before the woman about to give birth, to devour her child when she gave birth.

5 She gave birth to a son, a male child, destined to rule all the nations with an iron rod. Her child was caught up to God and his throne.

6 The woman herself fled into the desert where she had a place prepared by God, that there she might be taken care of for twelve hundred and sixty days.

7 Then war broke out in heaven; Michael and his angels battled against the dragon. The dragon and its angels fought back,

8 but they did not prevail and there was no longer any place for them in heaven.

9 The huge dragon, the ancient serpent, who is called the Devil and Satan, who deceived the whole world, was thrown down to earth, and its angels were thrown down with it.

EXPLANATION OF IMAGERY IN THE NARRATIVE OF REVELATION 12-14

About the middle of the Book of Revelation (Chapters 12-14), the author portrays the power of evil as represented by the figure of the Dragon who is opposed to God and his people. This Dragon pursues the woman about to give birth to devour the child but the child is born. Then St. Michael and his angels expel the Dragon and the Dragon’s angels out of heaven (Rev. 12:5-9). Adorned with the Old Testament images of sun, moon, and stars (Genesis 37:9-10), the woman symbolizes God’s people. As Israel gave birth to the Messiah (Rev.12:5) and the church suffers persecution by the Dragon (Rev 12: 6, 13-17), the Woman corresponds to an archetype of a pregnant goddess bearing a savior who is pursued by a monster looking to destroy the offspring. But her offspring, a son, in his turn, destroys the monster.

The huge red Dragon is a symbol of the forces of evil – the Devil or Satan (Rev. 12:9, 20:2), or the mythical Leviathan (Ps, 74:13-14) or Rahab (Job 26:12-13; Ps 89:11). It is also the ancient serpent who seduced Eve, the mother of the whole world (Gen 3:1-6).17

The Assumption of Mary into Heaven.

South Transept, Assumption of Mary into Heaven, 1927, Tyrol Art Glass Company, Innsbruck, Austria. Sts. Peter and Paul Church, Naperville, Illinois.

There is no mention of the Assumption of Mary into Heaven in the New Testament. There are biblical texts used frequently to point to the doctrine whose imagery is related to the Ascension of Christ into Heaven.

The Assumption of Mary in theology is the doctrine that Mary as Theotokos, or Mother of God, was taken (“Assumed”) into heaven, body and soul, at the moment, or what would be the moment, of her death. This phenomenon is not unprecedented in the Bible. It occurred in the Old Testament to Moses and Elijah who were pivotally important as Old Testament figures and who were present at Christ’s Transfiguration in the New Testament (Matt 17:1-9; Mk 9:2-10: Lk 9:28-36; and 2 Peter 1:16-21).

There has been debate whether Mary was assumed into heaven at death or after death – that is, whether Mary, the Mother of the Savior, experienced death at all. It is a debate not resolved even with the doctrine of the Mary’s Assumption into Heaven declared a dogma of the faith by Pope Pius XII (1876-1958) on November 1, 1950 in the apostolic constitution Munificentissimus Deus.

What is depicted in the window is biblical in the sense that it is the dogmatic theology deduced from it. The Assumption as a theme in Christian art originated in western Europe during the late Middle Ages—starting in the 12th and 13th centuries – a period when devotion to the Virgin Mary was growing in importance. It would be renewed vigorously again in the 16th century during the Protestant Reformation. Before this Renaissance and Reformation period, Mary is represented surrounded by a mandorla, or almond-shaped aureole. But starting in the 16th century the mandorla was replaced by a cluster of clouds as depicted in the window.

detail. Mary, Assumption window, Sts. Peter and Paul Church, Naperville, Illinois.

The window depicts Mary standing upon a brightly-lit crescent moon reflected in imagery from Revelation 12.

Mary wears a blue cloak with a red shirt underneath as seen in the stained glass window by her right arm’s sleeve. The blue of her cloak is interpreted to represent the Virgin’s purity, symbolize the cosmos, and identify Mary as a Queen as blue was associated with royalty.

The red garment color signifies traits connected with motherhood as well as Mary’s presence on Calvary at her son’s crucifixion, particularly her traits of love and devotion.

These symbolic colors Mary wears expresses a universal definition of motherhood for her.

The Virgin Mary is mother to Jesus which expands to the whole of humanity. On Calvary, standing by the cross of Jesus were three Marys – Mary, his mother, Mary, the wife of Clopas, and Mary of Magdala. From the cross, Jesus said in John 19:

26 When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple there whom he loved, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son.”

27 Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother.” And from that hour the disciple took her into his home. (New American Bible)

Mary wears a white robe representing her purity. Her halo has seven eight-pointed stars. In numerology the number 7 represents “perfection” and the number 8 represents “regeneration or rebirth.”

detail. angels, Assumption window, Sts. Peter and Paul Church, Naperville, Illinois.
detail. angels, Assumption window, Sts. Peter and Paul Church, Naperville, Illinois.

There are 12 angels, some carrying palms representing peace and victory, others carry lilies representing Mary’s virginity. Angels wear laurels of hyacinths (prudence, peace, and desire for heaven) and of roses (heavenly joy). Another angel holds out a bouquet of thornless roses signifying purity and the triumph of love. Mary will be crowned Queen of Heaven and the angels hold her crown.

detail. rondelle, The Trinity, Assumption window, Sts. Peter and Paul Church, Naperville, Illinois.

God the Father wears a triangular halo as He blesses the scene. The Holy Spirit in the symbol of the dove emanates.18

FOOTNOTES:

1  https://www.kingrichards.com/news/Church-Stained-Glass/79/Historic-Stained-Glass-Companies/ – retrieved 12.7.21.  

2 DuPage Roots, Richard A. Thompson, et.al., DuPage County Historical Society, 1985, p. 200.

3 DuPage Roots, p.203.

4 DuPage Roots, p.203-4.

5 http://www.idaillinois.org/digital/collection/npl/id/7507/ – p. 18 retrieved 12.7.21.

https://sspeterandpaul.net/our-church -retrieved 12.7.21.

DuPage Roots, p.203.

6  http://www.idaillinois.org/digital/collection/npl/id/7507/ p.23 – retrieved 12.7.21.

https://sspeterandpaul.net/our-church – retrieved 12.9.21.

7 DuPage Roots, pp. 204-5.

http://www.idaillinois.org/digital/collection/npl/id/7507/ p. 38- retrieved 12.7.21.

8 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Naperville,_Illinoisretrieved 12.9.21.
DuPage Roots p. 204.

9 https://sspeterandpaul.net/our-church – retrieved 12.9.21.

10 DuPage Roots p 205.

11 see Raymond E. Brown, The Churches The Apostles Left Behind, Paulist Press, NY, 1984.

12 Raymond E. Brown, A Risen Christ at Eastertime, The Liturgical Press, Collegeville, Minnesota, 1991, p. 60.

13 “Acts of the Apostle, “ Richard J. Dillon and Joseph A. Fitzmyer, S.J, The Jerome Biblical Commentary, Prentice Hall Englewood Cliffs, NJ, p.169.

14 https://bible.usccb.org/bible/acts/1 – . retrieved 11.17.21.

Raymond E. Brown, A Risen Christ at Eastertime, The Liturgical Press, Collegeville, Minnesota, 1991, p. 60.

15 see – https://www.beyondtheyalladog.com/2016/06/winged-heads-a-key-to-the-heirarchy-of-angels/ – retrieved 12.11.2021.

16 Romano Guardini, The Lord, Regnery Publishing, inc. Washington, D.C., pp. 501-503.

17 https://bible.usccb.org/bible/revelation/12 – Retrieved11.17.21.

Stained Glass Windows Tour at Saints Peter and Paul Church – Parts 1 and 2

18 Ibid.  

SOURCES:

http://www.idaillinois.org/digital/collection/npl/id/7507/

https://bible.usccb.org/bible/acts/1

https://bible.usccb.org/bible/revelation/12

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Naperville,_Illinois

https://sspeterandpaul.net/our-church

https://www.britannica.com/topic/Assumption-Christianity

https://www.kingrichards.com/news/Church-Stained-Glass/79/Historic-Stained-Glass-Companies/

Raymond E. Brown, A Risen Christ at Eastertime, The Liturgical Press, Collegeville, Minnesota, 1991.

Raymond E. Brown, Joseph A. Fitzmyer, S.J,  and Roland E. Murphy, O. Carm.,The Jerome Biblical Commentary, Prentice Hall Englewood Cliffs, NJ, 1968.

Raymond E. Brown, The Churches The Apostles Left Behind, Paulist Press, NY, 1984.

Richard A. Thompson, et.al., DuPage Roots, DuPage County Historical Society, 1985.

Romano Guardini, The Lord, Regnery Publishing, inc. Washington, D.C.

Stained Glass Windows Tour at Saints Peter and Paul Church – Part 1 and 2 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L5mUrOH1Ze4

Jacob Watts (b. tba, American), Moose Bubblegum Bubble, 33 E. Congress (South Wall), Chicago, Illinois.

Jacob Watts, Moose Bubblegum Bubble, 2014, 33 E. Congress, Chicago,  11/2017 5.19 mb

Jacob Watts is a photographer and visual storyteller based in Chicago, Illinois. A graduate of Oswego (Illinois) High School (class of 2008), Watts received his B.F.A. from Columbia College Chicago in 2012. The photo-illustration of a moose blowing bubblegum hangs on a blue wall in the South Loop of Downtown Chicago at a size of 48′ by 43′.

Jacob Watts has been passionate about the medium of photography since before he was a teenager. From the start of his interest in photography, Watts was wholly intrigued by Photoshop. Today the artist creates illustrative and conceptual images with an emphasis on post production. Most of Watts’ work consists of graphic, imaginative, surreal, and composited works from his own images. His current headline work includes images in areas entitled Strangers, Recovery: Movie Posters, Some Time Alone. Portraits, Hvrbrd, Motion, Conceptual, Things are Strange, and Building A Universe.  

According to the artist’s website, he is passionate about collaboration and finding creative solutions to exceed expectations. Watts is represented by Catherine Edelman Gallery in Chicago.

In the spring of 2014, Columbia College Chicago’s Wabash Avenue Corridor (WAC) Campus Committee launched a student and alumni competition to install artwork in the heart of the South Loop. Watts’ Moose Bubblegum Bubble was selected as one of the winners.

The scores of educational and cultural projects and programs that WAC advances strengthen the ties between students, artists, curators, academic institutions, cultural organizations and local businesses. Artists and curators from around the world have participated in WAC projects and programs to create murals, performance, installations, actions and large-scale projections that are always free of charge and open to the public.

This public arts program brings together the visual, performing, and other arts and media which are expansive, diverse and accessible so to provide a transformative experience to the many tens of thousands of urbanites who live, work and play in the city on a daily basis.

Starting in 2016 WAC began a focus of diversity, equity and inclusion, and developed one of the largest street art and public art collections of women artists and artists of color. This effort continues in 2021.

SOURCES:

http://www.jacobwatts.net/

Jacob Watts

https://patch.com/illinois/oswego/former-oswego-grads-art-receives-prominent-downtown-chicago-placement-0



Ruth Aizuss Migdal (b. 1932, American), Here, Lincoln Park Zoo, Chicago, Illinois.

Ruth Aizuss Migdal, Here, fabricated painted steel, 2012, Lincoln Park Zoo, Chicago. 5/2015 3.73 mb

Ruth Aizuss Migdal was born in Chicago. The artist was educated at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (B.F.A.) and the University of Illinois at Urbana (M.F.A). Migdal was awarded an honorary doctorate from U of I, her alma mater, in 2019. Classically educated and trained in painting and printmaking, initially she created abstract paintings. Migdal turned to sculpture where, in 1971, she began exploring the female figure.

Her towering sculptures begin as a maquette and, then, as a wax mold, they are each pieced together section by section. Today the artist continues her work in bronze and steel, creating large abstracted figurative sculptures that have been installed in popular locations throughout Chicago and around the United States.

Here is a 14-foot-tall public sculpture, painted a shining bright red, that depicts a dancing female figure on the runway and poised for flight. Standing in Chicago’s Lincoln Park Zoo next to the Chilean pink flamingos pond, Migdal’s sensuous, voluptuous, and muscular female dancer sculpture (and others like it) are constructed and deconstructed with multiple body parts. It exemplifies a spirit of joyfulness, independence, and perseverance. Further, the artwork is an expression of strength and a lust for life.

Here is one of the major examples of Migdal’s red dancing figures – another, entitled Whirling Dervish is in Chicago’s Douglas Park. La Diva III at 2650 N. Clark Street in Chicago was Migdal’s first monumental red painted sculpture installed in a public space. The photograph is from May 2015.

Here is installed in Lincoln Park Zoo. Founded in 1868, Lincoln Park Zoo is one of the most historic zoos in North America (fourth oldest) and one of the only free admission zoos in the country. It attracts over 3.6 million visitors annually.

SOURCES:

https://sculpture.org/member/ruth_aizuss_migdal

wgntv.com/news/features/85-year-old-chicago-sculptor-has-no-plans-to-slow-down/

http://www.lincolnparkchamber.com/news-item/art-on-clark-ruth-aizuss-migdal/

https://ruthssculpture.com/

http://www.lpzoo.org/

Land, Sea, Sky — Autumn. (28 Photos).

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Row Houses (c. 1873), 802-812 N. Dearborn Street, Chicago, Illinois. (1 Photo).

Row Houses, c. 1873, 802-812 N. Dearborn Street, Chicago, IL 6/2014

These early row houses were developed in Chicago’s Gold Coast/River North neighborhood in the early 1870s immediately following the Great Chicago Fire. That conflagration began south of the city’s downtown area at 137 DeKoven Street (around 1100 South) and literally blew its destruction north through downtown and onwards through today’s Gold Coast area until it petered out two days later on October 10, 1871, north of Fullerton Avenue (2400 North)⁠—a swath of more than four miles.

The aftermath of the fire sparked an intense period of (re)building, especially in Downtown Chicago, less than one mile to the south of these row houses. This may be why the architect (or architects) is unknown for these three-story and four-story Italianate buildings, all of which are well preserved.

The three-story row houses to the south have neo-Grec ornament which was in vogue starting around 1872 and included incised carved detail on window ledges and door frames. The four-story row houses to the north (partially pictured) have more lavish Second Empire exterior decoration.

Like the Italianate style, the Neo-Grec–style row houses have a smooth brownstone front with a pronounced deep cornice, heavy entryway and window details. The contrast was in their ornamentation. Neo-Grec’s simple, precise lines and geometric Greek influence contrasted with Italianate ornamentation of curved and organic lines and forms.

Italianate curved window and door frames are replaced by Neo-Grec’s right-angles. Lintels are replaced by rectangular blocks. Entryway steps had baluster cast-iron railings that ended in squared-off linear and geometric incised ornament.

Vintage map of Chicago Great Fire (detail).

Chicago was growing exponentially by 1870. In 1860 the city had a little over 112,000 residents and ranked 9th on the list of largest U.S. cities. By the time of the Great Fire in 1871, Chicago had grown to nearly 300,000 and ranked 5th on the largest U.S. cities list. Equally significant is that the city’s size also doubled in those same ten years from 17,492 square miles in 1860 to 35,172 square miles in 1870. Busy with rebuilding, the city did not expand again in square miles until the 1880’s, though its population continued to soar. When these Italianate row houses were built, Chicago was growing towards becoming the 4th largest U.S. city with a population of over 500,000. In the early 1870’s with rebuilding and augmenting population density the demand for housing was high. Chicago’s population would continue to grow with each decade until 1980.

Today, at 806 N. Dearborn is Alan Koppel Gallery which has, for over two decades, introduced contemporary international artists to Chicago audiences.

At 810 N. Dearborn is the main entrance to the Alliance Française de Chicago, founded in Paris in 1883. The Alliance Française de Chicago is part of an international network of over 1,100 Alliances around the world which promotes French language and francophone culture. Chicago’s Alliance was founded in 1897. Offering French language classes and a full range of cultural events, the Alliance Française de Chicago is the second oldest Alliance in the U.S. and the second largest in the U.S. after the French Institute Alliance Française in New York City. The Alliance Française de Chicago is headquartered in two renovated architecturally historic buildings, including the 1870’s row house on Dearborn Street and, connected by an interior garden, a building on Chicago Avenue.

SOURCES: Alice Sinkevitch, AIA Guide to Chicago, 2nd Edition, Harcourt, Inc., Orlando, 2004, p. 134.

Frank A. Randall, History of the Development of Building Construction in Chicago, Second Edition, Chicago and Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1999, p. 5.

https://www.biggestuscities.com/city/chicago-illinois – retrieved October 30, 2021.

https://www.brownstoner.com/guides/%25guides%25/neo-grec/ – retrieved October 30, 2021.

https://www.af-chicago.org/ – retrieved October 30, 2021.

https://www.alankoppel.com – retrieved October 30, 2021.

https://thevintagemapshop.com/products/1871-mcdonalds-map-of-chicago-great-fire – retrieved October 30, 2021.