The clerestory band at St. Columbkille Church consists of twenty
identical oblong openings. A strong horizontal matrix of a green Celtic knot-work
unites the windows visually and expresses the idea of the interwoven nature of the
many aspects of Catholic spirituality which are expressed by unique center elements
in each of the windows. The windows become symbolically a type of rosary; the mysteries
of the spiritual life linked together and leading to deeper realities.
In the original design of the church, stained glass windows were
to be placed in the windows at the top of the east wall of the sanctuary. Adding
these stained glass windows would complete the sacred environment and help parishioners
feel like they were in the presence of the sacred when they are in the church rather
than in any common secular space. They would also add to the beauty of the church.
The Pastoral Council invited designs from the Willet Hauser Company
incorporating themes of the life of St. Columbkille and themes from the core beliefs
of Christianity. The windows are being placed on the inside of the church, with
the existing external windows providing protection from the elements.
These designs represent the first seven opening
of a twenty panel stained glass series to fill the church’s Clerestory band
beginning from the north.
These seven images highlight the life of Jesus.
Birth of Christ: A manger within
a humble nativity stable. Above, the star that led the Magi from the East
Influence of Mary: Mary’s heart,
flaming and pierced by seven swords represents the seven sorrows predicted
Influence of Joseph: The carpentry tools (a square,
hand saw, mallet and chisel) recall the influence of Joseph in Jesus' life.
Jesus' Active Ministry: His ministry is symbolized
by imagery recalling the Miracle of Loaves and Fish, in which Christ miraculously
fed the crowd of five thousand with five barley loaves and two fish.
Active Ministry Continued: Further supporting the theme
of active ministry is Jesus washing His disciples’ feet at the Last Supper.
Suffering of Jesus: The instruments of Jesus’ Crucifixion
(the crown of thorns and nails) recall His suffering.
Death of Jesus: The three crosses of Good Friday recall
Life of Saint Columbkille
St. Columbkille was a writer of poetry and songs. He and
his monks spent much of their day making copies of the sacred
scriptures and other holy writings by hand prior to the invention
of the printing press. St. Columbkille is also noted as being
one of the first copyright cases in history, though the case
did not go his way after he had copied a favorite psalter to
take with him.
In most churches you can presume a dove represents
the Holy Spirit, but not here. Columb means "dove" in Gaelic
and kille is "church," so he came to be known as the "church’s
dove." So this window is a reference to St. Columbkille, our
parish’s patron saint. Here he holds an olive branch in his
mouth just like the dove that returned to Noah with the promise
The windows depicting wheat and grapes are strategically
placed directly above the altar. The Eucharist, which they become,
is often referred to as the Source and Summit of our faith.
Just as the grains of wheat and the grapes are assembled to
form bread and wine, we are also assembled to be a community
of faith. Then as these gifts of bread and wine are brought
forward to become the Body and Blood of Christ, we offer ourselves
to be transformed by God as well.
In Mass the priest says "Behold the Lamb of
God, behold him who takes away the sins of the world. Blessed
are those called to the supper of the Lamb" in echo of the words
of John the Baptist for Jesus. Here the lamb is poised on a
book with the seven seals imagery from the Book of Revelation
— "Worthy is the lamb who was slain."
In 563, at the age of 42, Columbkille left
Ireland with twelve companions and landed on an island now known
as Iona. Here he began his work; and, Iona became a center of
Christian learning. It became the heart of Celtic Christianity
and a potent factor in the conversion of the Picts, Scots, and
Northern English. Monks from the monasteries established by
Columbkille would later travel to mainland Europe and Christianize
the Frank and Germanic tribes.
These six windows were installed in December 2011.
These designs represent the last seven of a twenty panel
stained glass series to fill the church’s Clerestory band. These seven
images focus on the facets of living as a true Disciple of Jesus and
recalls our parish mission statement to “Go and Make Disciples.”
These images will be to the south of the first images installed.
Teach the Truth: The stone tablets of the
Law are depicted. Inscribed upon the tablets is the name of
God as represented in the Hebrew where it is written without
vowels using the letters Yod-Heh-Vav-Heh (YHVH). Often referred
to as the Ineffable Name. the Unutterable Name or the Distinctive
Name. Because it was considered blasphemous to utter the name
of God it was only written by the Hebrews and never spoken.
In the background Mount Sinai has been represented before glowing
rays of light recalling Exodus 19:16-25 when the mountain was
set aglow by fire and shook with the thunder as Moses conversed
with God. The lamp in the foreground represents the “Lamp of
Praying Always: The cloud containing the
Alpha and Omega suggest the “Cloud of the Unknowing,” a treatise
on contemplative prayer written in the late Middle Ages. The
work’s primary purpose is to develop a deepening relationship
with the mysterious Trinity, God the beginning and the end.
Gifts of the Holy Spirit: The descending
dove symbolizes the Holy Spirit and the seven flames depict
the Holy Spirit’s seven gifts based on Isaiah 11:2-3. They are
wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety
and fear of the Lord.
Freeing the prisoner: This image incorporates
multiple aspects of Discipleship including intrapersonal, interpersonal
and extrapersonal. The skewed prison door with an open lock
could indicate being freed by Christ from our own personal darkness.
Or it could be releasing others from theirs. It also challenges
us to embrace the Church’s teaching on Social Justice.
Forgiveness: This imagery is based on Rembrandt
van Rign’s famous painting, The Return of the Prodigal Son.
It reminds us of the challenges and graces involved in forgiving
Feeding the Hungry: This imagery recalls
a soup kitchen and references Matthew 25:31-46 in which Jesus
directs us to feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, shelter
the stranger, clothe the naked, look after the sick and visit
The Local and Universal Church: The seal
of the Archdiocese of Omaha is used to remind us that we at
St. Columbkille Parish are part of the larger, Universal Church.
Atop the shield is an Archbishop’s miter. The wavy silver fess
indicates the Missouri River, the Archdiocese’s Eastern boundary.
The black cross recalls that missionaries wearing black cassocks
brought the faith to this rich, cultural heartland as indicated
by the green shield.