Searching for Archangels in the Diocese of Madison

Sister JulieAnn Sheahan

September 28, 2023

Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity continue to spotlight St. Raphael, patron of the Madison Diocese. Find here images found in parishes depicting his intercession as healer of the sick and companion to sojourners. First, Fr. Thomas Kelley will tell us more about the stained-glass window from St. Francis Xavier Church, Cross Plains, Wisconsin featured in our first post. (Find St. Raphael near the top of the window.) It will be followed by images from St. John the Baptist, Waunakee, Wisconsin, St. Bernard Church, Madison, Wisconsin, St. Mary of the Lake, Westport, Wisconsin and a statue from St. Bernard Church, Middleton, Wisconsin. Last an angel that could be St. Raphael adoring at Blessed Sacrament, Madison, Wisconsin as we near the Eucharistic Congress for the Diocese taking place at St. John the Baptist, Waunakee, Wisconsin. You will want to make your own pilgrimage and extend this celebration on your own. Come to the Congress! Or take the time to meet Bishop Donald Hying and the faithful people of God that call this area home!

St. Francis Xavier Church, Cross Plains, Wisconsin

The present church sanctuary was remodeled in 2007, and in December of 2021 a new stained-glass window was installed above the altar in honor of Sister John Rose Acker, cousin of our Sister Charleen Acker. Sister Charleen commented: “I have seen that window. Had an aunt and uncle and their family belonged to that parish. I really like the church.”

Fr. Tom Kelley described the elements of the window at the time of its dedication in this way. 

“The image is very Eucharistic. From the very top, we’ve got a traditional depiction of God in Heaven. The central panels portray the Most Holy Trinity with the Holy Spirit proceeding from the Father and Son as we recite weekly in our creed. Jesus assumes the pose as the Salvador Mundi or the Savior of the World. Creation-centered spirituality leads back to Christ who saves not just humanity from our sins, but Christ saves all created beings and plants.

“Making things that grow from the earth holy and revelatory of God and worthy of taking on the form of Christ’s Body and Blood from the earthly gifts of wheat made into bread and grapes made into wine, which the ascending angels are carrying to the heavenly banquet. Jesus’s body is exposed making the connection to his exposed Body in the monstrance below.”

“Mary’s left-hand points toward the monstrance to demonstrate that this is very much her son’s body on earth as is the Body of Christ she is seated next to in Heaven.”

“Three saints depicted are of relics left in the altar by Sister John Rose and we have papers authenticating them. Those saints are the Little Flower, Thérèse of Lisieux, Thomas More, and Francis of Assisi. The saints from left to right are Thérèse of Lisieux, Francis Xavier, Joseph and Mary, Raphael, Thomas More, and Francis of Assisi. St. Raphael represents the patron of the diocese of Madison.

“The history of our 167 years as a parish is represented by the log cabin and brick church which was destroyed by fire in 1972. The monstrance, candle holders, and the adoring angels are items that were in the older church, keeping us connected to the memory of our past. The Immaculate Heart of Mary statue in the newly remodeled chapel also connects us to previous generations who would have looked upon this same statue.

Father Kelley added, “Keep in mind the main perspective of the window needs to be viewed with the crucifix in front of it as the central focus of our worship that leads us to Heaven. The crucifix is positioned to complement the sending of the Holy Spirit after Jesus breathed his last and handed over his Spirit.

“In light of racial sensitivity these days, I would like to recognize that although the window is limited in its scope and ability to depict many saints with diverse races, I did choose a darker cherry wood for the corpus on our crucifix as the focus for worship rather than a linden wood which is a lighter color, like our Stations of the Cross, which is typical in many predominantly Caucasian Catholic churches.”

Willett Houser are the artisans working on this project. Their factory is located in Winona, Minn.” 

St. John the Baptist Church, Waunakee, Wisconsin

Eileen M. Daley, Coordinator of Evangelization and Catechesis at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in Waunakee shared:  “St. Raphael is the one watching over all our travels and was carved by Stuffusser in Ortizi, Italy.  

This statue was commissioned by a family who wanted to donate a stained-glass window, but ultimately decided on a statue.  Msgr. James L. Gunn made the arrangements and the statue arrived at Saint John the Baptist Church in June 2023.”  Current Parochial Administrator is Fr. Joseph Baker.

St. Bernard, Madison


 Above the high altar, St. Raphael watches over the people of God at St. Bernard Church, Madison, Wisconsin. According to Fr. Michael Radowicz, current pastor, many families of neighboring parishes trace their roots to this parish. It is truly the mother church of the east side of Madison! All are welcome to become a part of its vibrant future. 

 Watch for Part 2 of this blog post on ‘searching for Archangels in the Diocese of Madison.’

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