2012, SFA Windows Explained


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A fuller description of the windows of St. Francis Church.

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2012, SFA Windows Explained

  1. 1. FRANCIS GIVES HIS CLOAK TO A BEGGAR.The first window in this beautiful series represents Francis, whom Providence haddestined to found the great Order of Friars Minor, at the height of his worldly ambition,aspiring to Knighthood at the age of twenty one. Son of a rich merchant of Assisi, hisardent soul found anything but satisfaction in measuring out goods to customers. Tosatisfy his yearning ambition, he entered upon the military career. This pleased hisfather, since there was glory in sight for his family, and he gladly furnished the meansfor a gorgeous equipment. Hence the costly garments of the son of Bernardone in thisscene, and in the background the attendant holding a restive horse.Francis is seen generously giving his cloak to a beggar, and this act dearly marks aturning point in his life. This incident is thus told by the Saints biographers. Eversince his imprisonment in Perugia during the year 1202 -1203, the result of the strifebetween that city and Assisi, Francis was seized with a feeling of unrest from which hecould not free himself. "More than ever he dreamed of great deeds, of strangeadventures. He too would be a Knight of the Holy Grail, he too would go out intothe world, offer his blood for the cause of the Greatest and Highest," and perhaps returnhome crowned with glory and fame. Like many of the youths of Italy, he would join theforces of Walter of Brienne in southern Italy, to fight for the Church and Italian liberty,and receive knighthood at the hands of the leader. "He set about equipping himselffor the undertaking in a fashion befitting the greatness of his ambition"; so that hisgarments surpassed in beauty and costliness those of his companion in arms, CountGentile, though he, too, was a man of wealth and fashion."The day of departure was at hand and Francis was already delighting in the glory of hisnewly bought equipment, when he happened to fall in with a knight whose shabbydress betokened a straitened poverty. And this to Francis seemed a great shame, thatone who belonged to so high a profession should be clothed so meanly. Straightway hemade over his own gorgeous mantle and tunic and all his costly apparel to the poorknight".God rewarded this charitable deed of Francis by making known to him in a dream,during the following night, that he was not to obtain greatness in the service of theworld, but in that of his Lord and God. However, he could not dream of the greatdesigns of Providence for him, nor of the great part he and his Order were to play in thebetterment of society.From a booklet by Fr. Theodosius Plassmeyer, OFM (Pastor), 1923
  2. 2. FRANCIS RENOUNCES THE WORLD.Here we behold Francis about five years later, Apr. 16, 1207. Gods grace hasmatured his vocation. He stands with his father before Bishop Guido of Assisi and hisepiscopal court and makes the supreme sacrifice of his life. He renounces the world anddedicates himself publicly and unreservedly to the service of God. Admonished by that"mysterious voice" at Spoleto, Francis abandoned his aspirations for military glory andreturned to Assisi, to take up again the threads of his former life. He went back to hisfathers business, and the youths of the city at once reelected him, on account of hisprodigality, captain of their revels. But his heart was neither in his fathers business norin the frivolities of his companions.He commenced to associate with the poor of the city and, encouraged by his goodmother Pica, led a life of prayer and penance, giving liberal alms, at times from thegoods of his father, to the chagrin of the latter. Finally, upon the return from a longjourney, the sensitive PietroBernardone, perceiving that he was earning but taunts and humiliation for the life of hisson, sternly resolved to have it out with him. He threatened to disinherit his"wayward" son and hale him before the magistrates of the city for that purpose.Francis, in spite of his filial piety, was equally determined and felt that he was manenough to stand his ground. Since he refused to appear before the commune, havingdedicated himself to religion and hence no longer subject to the jurisdiction of the civilcourts, his father carried his complaints to the Bishop. Francis obeyed the summons ofthe Bishop, and when the demands of his father were made known to him, he arose,threw his wallet to his fathers feet, handed back even the clothes he wore, and, raisinghis eyes, declared with a loud voice: “Hitherto I have called Pietro Bernardone father;henceforth I will say in all truth, Our Father who art in Heaven."Never before had such an act of renunciation been made in that court. In their midststood Francis, divested of all but a coarse hair shirt. His father was nonplussed. TheBishop wept and so did the people. Francis had found his quest, he had found his"Lady Poverty" in a scene, indeed, famous in the annals of the Saints and ever aninspiration for generous youths to follow his example.From a booklet by Fr. Theodosius Plassmeyer, OFM (Pastor), 1923
  3. 3. FRANCIS INVESTS ST. CLARE.Again five years have passed. By this time the Seraphic spirit that inflamed theheart of Francis had gained him many followers among the young men, andcommenced to extend itself to the maidens of Assisi. Foremost amongst the latterwas Lady Clare, who, under the guidance of the Saint,. became the foundress of theSecond Order of St. Francis, generally known as the Order ofPoor Clares.Clare was the daughter of Favorini dei Scifi, who belonged to one of the noblest familiesin the territories of Assisi. Distinguished by her birth, as well as by her noble qualities ofbody and mind, she seemed destined to uphold the traditions of her family and to reignas the mistress of one of the many feudal castles of her native land. But her pious mind.was far from being captivated by the honors and riches and pleasures of the world.Every offer of marriage was rejected. Her only desire was to serve God with all hermind and heart.Filled with a holy enthusiasm by the words of St. Francis, to whom she went forinstruction and advice, she determined, after serious deliberation, to abandon herearthly prospects and after the example of Francis, to follow more closely in thefootsteps of Christ, by adopting a life of poverty and prayer. This resolution she carriedout during the night of March 19, 1212. Accompanied by her maid, she left her fathershouse and went to the little church of the Portiuncola. Here Francis and his Brethrenwere awaiting her, here she vowed herself to God according to the strict Rule of St.Francis.It is remarkable how this Order of ladies, throughout the centuries and amid all theopulence and luxuries of the world, has preserved its original discipline. Once within theenclosure, their faces are but rarely seen again by the world. Living exclusively fromalms, they lead a life of penance and prayer. They wear the coarse woolen habit of theFranciscans, go barefooted all year, never eat meat, and fast the greater part of theyear. They arise at midnight, to chant the Solemn -Matins and Lauds of the Churchand to give at least half an hour to meditation. In this country they have Monasteries inChicago, New Orleans, Omaha, Evansville, Ind., and Oakland, Cal. They are the prideof the cities that are fortunate enough to harbor them; they belong to the choicestflowers of the Church, and are the Vestal Virgins of Christendom.From a booklet by Fr. Theodosius Plassmeyer, OFM (Pastor), 1923
  4. 4. FRANCIS THE LOVER OF NATURE.The scene represented in the fourth window is a reproduction of the celebrated painting of Josephvon Fuehrich. It shows us St. Francis seated in the solitude of Mount Alverna, surrounded by theanimals of the forest, who approach him not only without fear, but also seat themselves on his arms andshoulders and press close to him with signs of trust and affection. In this way the artist wished toportray Francis great love of nature, inanimate as well as animate.It has been truthfully said: "St. Francis beheld the Creator in the beauty of created things, and bycontemplating them, he rose ever higher to the possession of uncreated love. Detached as he was fromall earthly things, he seemed to have gradually returned to the innocence of the first man and tocomplete harmony with nature surrounding him. As he was full of love and affection for the least ofcreatures, so did these also show him an affection which reminds us of paradise. It was as though anew sense had been given him, and his heart beat with an intimate understanding of the heart-life ofthe beasts and birds and all sensitive things. He felt no longer a stranger amongst them. And with thisnew understanding there came to him a wonderful power over all the wild life. The most timid andferocious became fearless and tame at his side."Numerous are the instances in his life in which he showed his love for creatures and his power overthem. Beasts of prey, at his word, ceased their depredations, sheep showed their joy when they sawhim, birds fluttered joyously at his approach, perched on his hands and arms, listened to him when hespoke to them, and united with him in singing the praise of God. Remarkable is the story of hisencounter with the wolf of Gubbio, which is thus told by his biographers: "A savage wolf terrorizedthe inhabitants of Gubbio. It kept itself in the environs, and no one dared to go out of the city alone,even if he was armed. St. Francis went out to seek the wolf. In his marvelous way, he tamed the beastand brought him into the city in meek and docile mood and had him fed; and from that time the wolfbecame the pet of the city until he died."Well known, too, is the Saint’s Canticle of Brother Sun which is "a song of the kinship of all Godscreatures and of Gods Fatherhood of them all, and of the liberty which the heart of man finds in thevision of this truth."From a booklet by Fr. Theodosius Plassmeyer, OFM (Pastor), 1923
  5. 5. FR. JUNIPERO SERRAS FIRST CONVERT.A baptismal scene was desired in this window. Since however, it is not known thatSt. Francis ever baptized anyone, and since all the windows were to be historical: it isnot St. Francis himself who appears here, but one of his sons that had fully imbibed hisapostolic spirit, Junipero Serra, the Apostle of California. Though not expressly amissionary Order, the sons of St. Francis have always been conspicuous in missionaryfields. This is clear from the fact that already in the first half of the 14th centuryFranciscan Missionaries traversed all Asia and founded numerous Christiancommunities.When, however. the holy founder wrote in his Rule the chapter for Missionariesamongst the Infidels and sent out his first Brethren into foreign lands, he could not, evenin his boldest vision, foresee the prominent part his sons, Columbus, Juan Perez,Hennepin, etc., would take one day in the discovery and exploration of the New Worldand in the conversion of its aborigines. Fr. Junipero Serra with his Spanish Confreresset foot on California soil in 1769. His first convert was the Chief of the GualamoIndians in the vicinity of San Diego. When the Fathers of the St. Louis Provincetook charge of the California Missions, Father Clementine Deymann of Teutopoliswas one of the first ones to be sent there and was. made first superior in 1890.On one of his earlier travels he met Fr. Juniperos "first convert" in the Poor House ofSalinas, Monterey Co., Cal. He took a photograph of the venerable Indian, wrote onits back a sketch of his life, and sent the same to the museum of St. Josephs College,Teutopolis, Ill. It is this first baptism of Fr. Junipero that appears in this window.Below is a reproduction of the Chiefs photo and Father Deymanns sketch. It reads asfollows:Watsonville, Col., Aug. 3rd., 1886. A photograph of Gabriel Gualamo, Chief of theGualamo Indians. He was Father Junipero Serras first convert and was baptized atSalinas, Monterey Co., Calif., and is supposed to be between 112 and 142 years old.Records prove him to be over 135. I saw him today in the above mentioned PoorHouse. --Fr. Clementine Deymann, 0. F. M.N. B.: Old Gabriel died in the Monterey Hospital, March t6th,1890 at the reputed age of 151 years. (Records.)From a booklet by Fr. Theodosius Plassmeyer, OFM (Pastor), 1923
  6. 6. FRANCIS PREACHES CHRIST BEFORE THE SULTANAt the famous Chapter of Mats, 1219, the foreign Mission enterprise had beenformally initiated. Francis chose for himself what was considered the most hazardousone, the mission to the Moslem. He selected Brother Illuminato as his companion. Itwas the time of the fifth Crusade. The contending armies stoodin Egypt. By peculiar circumstances John of Brienne, brother of Walter of Brienne,under whose guidance Francis had once contemplated to enter upon the militarycareer, commanded the Crusaders, Melek-el-Kamil the Turks. In the camp of theChristians Francis learned that here, too, the purest ideal rubbed shoulder with the mostsordid and he soon grew disgusted with the shameless life of the Crusaders. He was atrue Knight and the Knighthood of the Cross meant for him more than a mere war cry."Once more setting at naught common prudence", Francis went over to the Sultanscamp, in spite of the fact that the latter had offered a golden ducat for the head of anyChristian. Scarcely beyond the lines of the Christians, he and Brother Illuminato weretaken prisoners; their meekness, however, saved their lives. History reports severalaudiences Francis and Brother Illuminato had with the Sultan. The window depictssuch an audience.There is Francis boldly preaching Christ. Brother Illuminato meekly standing to hisleft. The Sultan in gorgeous Turkish attire is sitting on his throne, listening pensively.Mixed sentiments are expressed on the faces of the courtiers. "The Sultan wasdeeply impressed by Francis and his message and wished to show his esteem byvaluable presents, as indicated by the treasures standing by the throne. But Francishad not come for gold, he had come for souls. Failing in this, he asked permission toreturn to the Christian camp. The Sultan, dismissing them, begged Francis not to ceaseto pray for him and ordered his soldiers to conduct the Friars back with courtesy. Alegend tells us that the Sultan died a Christian, converted by a Franciscan." - Fr.Cuthbert.In the sacristy of the Convento Sagro, Assisi, there is preserved a Turkish horn which issaid to have been given to Francis by the Sultan, and which the Saint afterwardsused to call the people together when he was about to preach.From a booklet by Fr. Theodosius Plassmeyer, OFM (Pastor), 1923
  7. 7. FRANCIS OBTAINS THE PORTIUNCULA INDULGENCEBy granting to Francis the Portiuncula Indulgence in 1219, the Church changed hertraditional discipline as regards Indulgences. "Up to that time the church had accordedno plenary Indulgences except on occasion of Crusades." And as to partial Indulgences,"The Church was inclined to restrict them, nor was it customary to grant them withoutthe obligation of alms." Hence women and poor and sick people were deprived of thissingular privilege. Yet the heart of Francis went out to them, the favorites of Christ; fortheir sake he, the rich merchants son, had become poor 1 for their religious.. andsocial uplift he worked and prayed incessantly.This window shows how Francis one night, in his beloved chapel of Portiuncula,pouring out his soul in prayer for the conversion of sinners, was favored with aheavenly vision. Christ appeared to him in great splendor, accompanied by HisBlessed Mother and surrounded by Angels. Christ, pleased with the heroic piety ofFrancis, told him, as God had told Solomon of old, when he was praying for hispeople-- "Ask of Me whatever favor thou pleasest, it shall be granted to you." Theheart of Francis was full of but one subject, the conversion of sinners, that theprodigal son, and his name is legions, might arise and go back to his Father and bereconciled. Hence quick came the answer: "Grant, O Lord, that all who, contrite andhaving confessed their sins, shall visit this church, may receive a Plenary Indulgenceand pardon of all their sins."Mary, the Mother of Good Hope, seconded the appeal. AndChrist answered: "I grant the Indulgence thou askest on condition that it be ratifiedby My Vicar, to whom alone I have given power to bind and to loose."Francis heart flowed over with joy. At daybreak he set out with Brother Masseo forPerugia to put his cause before Pope Honorious the Third. The petition was granted,though it meant a radical change of ecclesiastical discipline. The 2nd of August was theday fixed for the great general amnesty between God and man. For centuriesthousands of pilgrims visited annually the little chapel of Assisi on that date, to gain thePortiuncula Indulgence. Later this privilege was extended to all Franciscan churches, atpresent practically every parochial church enjoys the same.In as much as the Portiuncula Indulgence implies a perfect reconciliation between Godand the sinner, the artist has with great propriety introduced in the background therainbow, the sign of the covenant of reconciliation between God and Noah after thedeluge.From a booklet by Fr. Theodosius Plassmeyer, OFM (Pastor), 1923
  8. 8. FRANCIS THE LOVER OF THE INFANT JESUSSoon after his return from the Holy Land, Francis introduced his realistic way ofcelebrating the Birth of Christ, and thus brought closer to the hearts of the faithfulthe message of the Joy and Peace of the Babe of Bethlehem.To understand better the endeavors of St. Francis, we must keep in mind that, as today,so also at that time "Tyranny, discord, and vengeance reigned throughout Europe andespecially in Italy." Francis himself, at one time prisoner of war, had gotten a taste ofits bitterness, and nobody yearned more to see peace reestablished than he did. On hissojourn in the East, Francis had, indeed, failed in his mission of peace to the warringSultan of Egypt, but this failure was more than compensated for by the inspiration hedrew from a visit to the Holy Places in Palestine. The mysteries of Bethlehem aboveall had a charm for him. He conceived a new idea of the message of Joy and Peace,so inseparably connected with the Birth of Christ; now more than ever he consideredhimself the Herald of the Prince of Peace; and he was determined to get this messagebefore the people in a way as never before: he introduced his way of the CribDevotion.His friend Giovanni of Greccio readily cooperated. On his estate near the city was agrotto; he also furnished the ox, the ass, and the manger. Townsmen, peasants, andshepherds were invited. Towards midnight Francis and his Brethren came to celebrateSolemn Mass. The moment just before Mass is shown in this window. Francis iskneeling in contemplation before the Crib. To his left is his friend Giovanni;newcomers with torches are seen in the back ground, struggling through the woods."At Mass Francis was Deacon. After the Gospel he stood forth, all enthused, to preachon the text: Behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy etc. The crowd felt asthough a hidden mystery was in very deed revealed to their eyes: so subtly did thepreacher convey to them his own emotions." "Thus he induced individuals, families,cities, and districts to live again in peace and harmony." Even today, when long beforedawn on Christmas morning the solemn peals of our Church bells announce theBirthday of Christ and carry the glad tidings along the highways and byways of life tothe remotest and humblest cottage by the wayside, it is the vision of the Crib of St.Francis that draws countless multitudes to fill our houses of worship.From a booklet by Fr. Theodosius Plassmeyer, OFM (Pastor), 1923
  9. 9. FRANCIS INSTITUTES THE III ORDERHere is a lasting monument of the loyalty and the exalted patriotism of the young menof Teutopolis in the World War. It will perpetuate the memory of some trying days ofthis community. The inscription speaks for itself. It reads: "In Memory of Sgt. Ferd.Delker, Member of the III Order, Our World War Victim, Marcheville, France, Nov.10th, 1918.Ferd. Delker was enthusiastic in the service of his country. He had volunteered longbefore the draft came. In one of his last letters he wrote: "I have no dread to go tothe front; I am prepared to sacrifice my life"; and so he did. Himself a sharpshooter, heexposed himself boldly and was singled out by an enemy sharpshooter. He is the onlyone of our 66 boys in service that fell in action. Also in the service of God youngDelker was in the advance. At the age of 18 he joined the ranks of the III Order ofSt. Francis. It is the beginning of this institution that is represented in this window.The example and the preaching of Francis and his Brethren stirred all Italy and greatnumbers sought to join his ranks. Since he could not possibly sever the family ties ofthe married people, he conceived the idea to establish, with the approbation of thePope, a Religious Order for the people in the world. The plan was executed in 1221,in the Florentine territory. This window represents Francis receiving the first twomembers--Lucius and his graceful consort Bona Donna. Lucius, like Francis, wasthe scion of a rich commercial family. They had been friends in boyhood days.The III Order spread rapidly. It meant not only a revival of religion, but also a socialregeneration. It was at the time when Frederick II endeavored to establish his swayover Italy by sowing discord in that country. Peter de Vinneis, his chancellor, wroteto his sovereign: "The III Order of Francis is frustrating our plans. Every man andwoman belongs to that Fraternity, and they refuse to fight for us." Of Florence it issaid: "In a short time through the influence of the III Order it assumed a newaspect of peace and prosperity." Pope Leo XIII. recognized the inherent vitality of theIII Order for social regeneration. He modified its Rule and declared: "My program ofsocial reform is the III Order." The great International Congress of Rome in September1921, and its gigantic National Convention in Chicago on the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th ofOctober of the same year, the 700th anniversary of its institution, show that the IIIOrder is yet very much alive and very much up-to-date in social reform work. "Maythe III Order spread in every city and town and hamlet." Benedict XV.From a booklet by Fr. Theodosius Plassmeyer, OFM (Pastor), 1923
  10. 10. ST. FRANCIS RECEIVES THE STIGMATAIn view of the prevailing tendency of denying the supernatural interests of the soul, thiswindow is probably the most striking one, because it so strongly exhibits the influenceof the supernatural upon the natural. Two years before his death, in 1224, aphenomenon was wrought upon the body of St. Francis, up to that time unknown inthe history of the Church: he received the Stigmata, the marks of the five wounds ofour Lord. Since that time others are known to have had them. Even today there lives inSan Giovanni, southern Italy, the saintly Capuchin Friar Padre Pio, who is thusfavored.In this window the artist followed the description by Celano and the painting of Giotto.In the foreground is St. Francis kneeling in prayer on a projecting ledge of Mt. Alverna.In amazement he looks at the winged Seraph with the face of our Lord. In thebackground is seen Brother Leo, the faithful companion of Francis, emerging from aravine.Historians thus relate the mysterious occurrence; "Absorbed in prayer, Francis sawdescend a Seraph having six wings. In a moment of great agony the Seraph smote him,as the Angel smote Jacob of old. The vision having disappeared, the marks of theCrucifixion began to show themselves. The right side was marked with a red scar,blood flowing from it. His hands and feet were pierced with fleshy nails. They wereformed of a mass of nerves that was loose, and could be moved in the wound. Theirround black heads showed within the palms of the hands and on the insteps of the feet.Their long points, bent and, as it were, beaten with a hammer, protruded on the back ofthe hands and under the soles of the feet." - (Le Monnier.)The Stigmata of Francis were seen by many. Among them was Card. Conti, later PopeAlexander IV. "He could never forget the sight" and called them "the seal of the HighPriest Jesus Christ impressed upon one of His servants."Naturally the spot was sacred to Francis, as it has remained ever since to his Brethren.Himself unable to perform the act on account of the wounds, Francis bade Bro. Pacificoto consecrate the stone over which the Seraph had stood, even as Jacob hadconsecrated the stone of his vision: washing it and anointing it with oil. Today it is seenencased in a grille in the Chapel of the Stigmata, and twice a day the Friars of theplace proceed to the Chapel in solemn procession to venerate the sacred spot.From a booklet by Fr. Theodosius Plassmeyer, OFM (Pastor), 1923
  11. 11. THE TRIUMPH OF ST. FRANCISThe last window is a fit climax of the series. It glorifies the Immaculate Conception andis called the "Triumph of St. Francis." The Immaculate Conception has ever been thecherished patroness of the Three Orders of St. Francis, and the Franciscan theologians,under the leadership of the famous Duns Scotus, always vindicated this privilege of theiraugust queen, until it was declared a dogma by Pope Pius IX on December 8th,1854. Under the same title the Mother of God is also the patroness of the CatholicChurch in the United States, and just now her clients, to give an expression of theirdevotion to her, are planning to erect a shrine in her honor in the national Capital, thatwill be an ornament to our country and a credit to her friends.There are three groups in the window. In the center is the Immaculate Conceptionrepresented as the mysterious woman of the Apocalypse; "Clothed with the Sun, and themoon under her feet; and on her head a crown of twelve stars." To her right is St.Francis pointing with satisfaction to the great number of his followers, her clients;to her left is St. Bonaventure, Cardinal, the Seraphic Doctor and compeer of St.Thomas.Above is a medallion of the Blessed Trinity. God the Father, on His head a crown and atriangle, emblems of His majesty and the Trinity, holds in His left hand an openbook showing an alpha and an omega, the first and the last letters of the Greekalphabet; because He is the beginning and the end of all creation. With His right handHe blesses the Immaculate Conception, the masterpiece of His creation. On the Crossis hanging her Son, the Redeemer, she being the first-fruit of Redemption. Between thetwo appears the Holy Ghost in form of a dove; through His power the mystery of theIncarnation was wrought in her.In the center below is the Venerable Duns Scotus, the champion of the ImmaculateConception. The other fourteen are a collection from all three Orders. They are: Upperrow: left to right: The one with the Blessed Sacrament, St, Clare, foundress of thePoor Clares; St. Anthony, the wonder-worker of Padua; St. Bernardine, the herald ofthe Holy Name; St. John Capistrano, preacher of the Crusade and hero of Belgrade; St.Agnes of Prague, the wonderful princess of Bohemia. Second row: St. Colette, withthe canary; St. Agnes, sister of St. Clare; St. Peter of Alcantara, the great reformer ofSpain; the much beloved St. Elisabeth of Hungary; St. Roch, pilgrim and patronagainst contagious diseases. Third row: St. Elisabeth of Portugal, heroic princessof peace; St, Margaret, the penitent of Cortona; St. Louis, King of France, and St.Louis, Bishop of Toulouse.From a booklet by Fr. Theodosius Plassmeyer, OFM (Pastor), 1923