Witnessing the Nativity: an Angelic Perspective. Featured Images from Catholic Minnesota and Wisconsin Parishes

Sister JulieAnn Sheahan

December 16, 2023

As we celebrate the 800th anniversary of Greccio and St. Francis love for the Incarnation, Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity feature select sacred stained-glass windows that depict the Christmas mystery. These parish communities share their precious treasures: Holy Angels, West Bend, Wisconsin; St. Cecilia, Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin; Nativity of the Lord Catholic Church, Cudahy, Wisconsin; Nativity of the Lord, St. Paul, Minnesota; and Holy Rosary, Kewaunee. 

Holy Angels, West Bend, Wisconsin

“These are not paintings or computer renderings of our windows.  These are actual pictures!” This quote could not be more true. If you follow this link you will be further enticed to see the Holy Angels Church windows in person.  Not shown here is the beautiful stained glass window of the shepherds, wise men and angels paying homage to the baby Jesus in the middle north wall of the church. 

The history of this parish in the city of West Bend begins in 1845, however the Congregation of Holy Angels can officially trace the start of it’s history to the year 1852.  By 1863 Holy Angels had outgrown the original building so two more lots were purchased, on the corner of 7th and Elm, and in 1866 a new church was built.  This new church was able to hold the parish for almost 50 years. But the congregation was again growing so in 1913 plans to build a new church started forming. Construction began in the summer of 1914 with a cornerstone laying ceremony taking place on August 9, 1914. On June 20, 1915 Archbishop Meismer formerly consecrated the new church building. Holy Angels has stood on the same spot for over 100 years.  It has some of the areas largest and most beautiful stained glass windows. It is worth a pilgrimage to this parish. Liturgies are vibrant and pews are full.

Pastor Fr. Howard Haase comments on the window: “It is a lovely image and in so many ways speak of the sacred times of Advent and Christmas. Being here at the parish of Holy Angels I have grown in my appreciation of the images of angels and how those images speak to the hearts of many. Many blessings to you all during these sacred times.”

St. Cecilia, Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin

Colter Sikora offers these images of St. Cecilia Church, Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin.  Click here.

The first Saint Cecilia’s Church was officially dedicated on June 22, 1903, by Bishop S. G. Messmer of Green Bay.  The church and the parish were dedicated to Saint Cecilia, virgin and martyr and the patroness of music. The current building is the same architectural style as the previous church and was dedicated in 2016. Construction included removal of the church’s most precious artifacts including relics, all stained glass windows and Stations of the Cross. Monsignor Felix G. Oehrlein and Father Michael Richel each had their place of leadership in the history of the parish. It was to be Father Eric G. Sternberg who was given the task to take up the plans laid by Father Richel to work toward the construction of a new parish church.

Today Fr. Paul Ugo Arinze is the Parish Administrator. Anna Belle, Parish Secretary, was helpful in sharing these images here. 

Nativity of the Lord Catholic Church, Cudahy, Wisconsin

As we share this beautiful stained glass window from Nativity of the Lord Church in Cudaly, Wisconsin, Pastor Fr. Carmelo J. Giuffre has announced that there is an expansion of the Narthex to be completed by early 2024. This new multi-function space will provide a gathering space for parish clubs, committee meetings, bible study, presentations and parish functions. It will roughly seat between 75-90 people. Having space on one floor will reduce barriers for those with mobility challenges. Entrances will be off the current parking lot and off of Kirkwood Avenue.

The Mission Statement of the parish is vibrant: “The Nativity of the Lord Parish was formed from the rich heritage of the Cudahy Catholic Community, we celebrate our oneness in faith uniting our lives in Word and Sacrament. We rely upon this rich heritage to help us build our future. In accepting Christ’s mission as our own, we accept the call to share our love and resources & for the good of all.”

Nativity of the Lord, St. Paul, Minnesota

Delight in this unique, evocative and beyond colorful stained glass Christmas window. Fr. Rolf Tollefson, pastor, shared a recent update from the Gaytee-Palmer team who are re-leading the windows from the east wall of the church. The work has proven more difficult than anticipated thus the final set of windows is still looking to be reinstalled by the end of the year at the earliest.

Al Palmer comments on the project.

The religious symbols are unique and the windows are very old. So to have windows that are this old makes them rare and valuable. This type of commitment speaks to how invested the parish is to their church and the understanding they have for these historic stained glass windows. Stained glass imagery reminds worshipers of important values and lessons.

For a detailed history of the parish, click here

Holy Rosary, Kewaunee, Wisconsin

The window is designed by Conrad Pickel, who is considered one of the leading stained glass designers in this country. He has created numerous glass windows for cathedrals, large and small churches. The windows in the nave, as well as those in the Sanctuary and balcony, are made of the finest mouth-blown antique glass. The glass is called antique because it is made the same way as centuries ago when the famous windows in the European Cathedrals were created. Antique glass varies in its thickness and texture, has small and large bubbles, and is quite different from the machine-made windows. The various colors and shades are created by metallic oxides, which are mixed with molten sand. The colors are absolutely permanent and in a hundred years from now will be as beautiful as they are today. The design, which is applied to the glass, consists of iron oxide, vitrified in the kilns.

The first window in the nave shows the beloved scene of the birth of Christ amid manifestations of heavenly glory in the humble stable of Bethlehem. In the center is seen the newborn Infant, His Mother, Mary, and His Father, St. Joseph. A bright light radiating from the star of Bethlehem illuminates the scene of the first Christmas, indicating the high origin of the Child. On the left is seen the three shepherds who have heard the message of the angel and have hurried to the stable to adore the Savior. On the right, are shown the Three Kings or Wise Men in their royal trappings, offering their gift of gold frankincense, and myrrh. The symbols in the lower sections are the Chi-Rho (the Greek initials of the word CHRIST) and the crown, expressing the idea that the Child is the Prince of Peace and the King of Kings.

Learn more about the other exquisite windows of the church here. Fr. Andrew Kurz is the current pastor of Holy Rosary Parish. 



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