Provided is a brief description of the stained glass windows in the Polish National Catholic Cathedral of St. Stanislaus, Bishop & Martyr, Scranton, PA.
When the faithful enter the vestibule of the church and look toward the main altar, and then upon the windows on one side and the other, they will see a number of personages linked throughout the ages with the foundation and the growth of the Christian Church. These windows depict Jesus Christ as the archpriest and the founder of the Church, the blessed Mother Mary as an example of motherhood, the immaculate Virgin, an example of purity, holiness, and dedication.
Then the viewer will also see the figures of the Apostles: Peter, Paul, and John, and on the other side the figures of Poland’s greatest poets and philosophers, Adam Mickiewicz and Julius Slowacki, and again the greatest reformer of the Czech nation: Jan Hus, and also the figure of the immortal Abraham Lincoln, the sixteenth president of the United States, a friend of the people, especially those forgotten ones living in slavery and degradation.
These figures speak to us as though they were alive.
We invite you: “COME TO THIS TEMPLE OF THE PEOPLE, LOOK AND SEE, BEND YOUR KNEE AND OPEN YOUR HEART TO GOD.”
A short sketch of these figures will be an invaluable remembrance to all of those who will have the good fortune to worship in St. Stanislaus Cathedral.
From the time that man has learned how to fashion them, stained glass windows have depicted men and women who have contributed to the growth of the Christian Church through their love of God, love of Jesus Christ, and through their faith. This artistry in glass fills all those who visit the Temples of the Lord with inspiration and a spirit of dedication.
The figure of the great man or woman burned in glass not only fills the temple with a rainbow of color but also radiates before the eyes of men the essence of faith, the essence of a virtuous life and the example which awakens a deep emotion within the soul, a resolution to emulate the acts and deeds coming from the one portrayed as well as from the will to emulate the greatest servant of humanity: Jesus Christ.
Besides these noble men and women, whom the Church recognizes as saints, humanity also prides itself with those who in many areas might be at a distance from the altar of sacrifice, but who were close to God by glorifying Him in “spirit and in truth,” by bringing moral and material aid to their neighbor. Almost every nation has such men and women. There is no shortage of them in the American and Polish Nations.
It is no wonder then that the people building St. Stanislaus Cathedral, under the guidance of their spiritual leader, Bishop Francis Hodur filled the Cathedral Church with stained glass depicting figures from the religious and national spheres to inspire all who worship here with a zeal to emulate those who put their Christianity into everyday practice.
CHRIST THE TEACHER
This window speaks to those entering the nave of the Cathedral that the Church is continuing the mandate given by Christ: “ALL POWER IN HEAVEN AND ON EARTH HAS BEEN GIVEN TO ME. GO, THEREFORE, AND MAKE DISCIPLES OF ALL NATIONS, BAPTIZING THEM IN THE NAME OF THE FATHER, AND OF THE SON, AND OF THE HOLY SPIRIT, TEACHIGN THEM TO OBSERVE ALL THAT I HAVE COMMANDED YOU: AND BEHOLD, I AM WITH YOU ALL DAYS, EVEN UNTO THE END OF THE WORLD.”
The Church remains faithful to this great mandate because it knows and believes in Christ who said: “HEAVEN AND EARTH WILL PASS AWAY, BUT MY WORDS WILL NOT PASS AWAY.”
Anyone entering the nave of the Polish National Catholic Church in Scranton will observe on the left side, Christ our Lord knocking at the door. He continues to knock upon the doors of the hearts of humanity, especially upon the hearts of a humanity devoid of warmth and apathetic to the needs of others. Who can resist this knock of Christ, waiting patiently at the door of human hearts, waiting for them to open and let him enter? He is there to serve and at the same time to invite others to serve, to be His co-Physicians, cooperators in His great work of Salvation.
The window of Christ the Teacher was given by Jan, Antonina and Ignacy Sarnowski.
THE RESURRECTED CHRIST
Following up the aisle, the eyes of the observer sees the figure of the Resurrected Christ. Looking at this window we see the strength and the eternity of the truth of the Resurrection of the Son of God and His triumph over all death- not only physical, natural death, but also moral and spiritual death.
“I AM THE RESURRECTION AND THE LIFE. HE WHO BELIEVES IN ME, EVEN THOUGH HE DIE, SHE SHALL LIVE.”
This truth permeates the observer and reminds him of his Christian heritage. This window was given by the Young Men’s Society of Resurrection.
As the observer continues up the aisle he will see the Abraham Lincoln window. St. Stanislaus was perhaps the first Church in the country to honor President Lincoln. This immortal emancipator of the black man, whose name shines like a bright star among the names of the greatest men of all humankind, was enshrined in the Cathedral Church to remind us of our duties and obligations to all- No matter what their creed or the color of their skins. Who has not heard of Lincoln?
By his life and work he reminded the people that all reform begins in the human heart. He must have understood Christ very well, for this was Christ’s answer to the tempter as He began His mission of Salvation.
In the next window to the left of Lincoln we see the figure of Adam Mickiewicz, a great patriot and servant of the people, one of the great men of humanity who in his work “Dziady” wrote: “I am a million for I suffer and bear persecution for millions.” Ardently dedicated to the cause of Polish freedom, he is the author of Poland’s greatest epic poem “Pan Tadeusz.”
He was a great teacher and humanitarian. He lectured at the Sorbonne in Paris where he was in exile. Among his many literary works are also the “Books of the Nation and the Saga of Poland’s Pilgrimage” depicting the sufferings and the longings of the Polish people under foreign and despotic yoke. He lifted the soul of a nation and inspired millions in the darkest hours of the nation’s needs.
Among his memorable statements, “O, my Fatherland, you are like health— Only he can value you, who has lost you.” Practically his entire life was spent in exile, for he could not agree to the enslavement of his people. He died in Constantinople, a lonely exile.
The Polish people brought his remains to Poland and placed them at Wawel in Krakow to symbolize that he was more than a king. This window was given by the “OGNISKO” Society and thus we have standing alongside one another two great men: the American Emancipator, Lincoln, and the Pole, Adam Mickiewicz.
We come at this time to the likeness of him who bore untold hardships and labored unceasingly, without complaint, who endured all for Christ as though it was a feather in his cap, who voluntarily visited foreign shores, who in the midst of fanatics violently opposed to Christ – Left behind him the Gospel of Love.
This great man who admitted to personal “burning” constantly sought solace for his brethren. He, who after lengthy missions, still managed to write letters to the brethren in the different parishes which he organized, stood like a sturdy oak, whose branches reached towards heaven, whose extraordinary faith withstood all temptations.
The window of St. Paul was given by John and Katherine Andrzejewski.
Peter the Apostle is a lesson in change that can occur in a person. From doubt and indecision, he arose like the clouds that fly before the sun, dedicating his whole life wholeheartedly to Christ and the Church.
In spite of all the sufferings that he endured, he never ceased to work for, or to encourage the people to follow Christ. He was eventually crucified in an upside down position and gave his life for the mission of his master Jesus Christ, our Lord.
The window of Saint Peter was given by the family of Jakub Wisniewski.
KS. JAN HUS
Jan Hus was the great religious reformer of the Slavs. He was the forerunner of Martin Luther. His heart yearned for the reformation of the Church and his work echoed in Poland. He gave his life for his faith. His ideas resounded throughout the Christian world. He gave his entire being to God, although the official church claimed that it belonged to the devil and burned him at the stake. The name of Jan Hus will live forever among such names as Luther, Savonarola, and other religious reformers who sought only the incorporation of the Gospel of Christ in the lives of Christians. He not only preached, but practiced what he preached.
This window depicts the saint, the man who taught the young Christ the first things that He had to do, to whom Christ gave His obedience as a child. Joseph trained the Child’s hands to have the strength necessary to eventually carry the Cross.
Joseph served God and man, quietly, with total devotion and with the proper parental love and discipline that a child should have. He influenced the Christ Child’s actions
The window of Saint Joseph was given by the St. Stanislaus “Obrona Ludu” Society.
The likeness of St. John, the youngest of the Apostles is to remind the members of the Polish National Catholic Church of the great love that John bore for Christ, and the great love that Christ bore for John when He commended His mother into John’s care. John worked not only in Jerusalem but also traveled to Asia Minor, Greece, and Macedonia doing missionary work.
John was imprisoned by the Roman Emperor on the island of Patmos, during which time he wrote the Apocalypse or Revelation, which is a constant and everlasting source of strength to the Christian Church. John remains as a constant source of strength and inspiration to those who work in the Christian Church in their efforts to achieve love and faith for the multitudes.
The window of Saint John was given by the St. Stanislaus St. Mary’s Sodality.
This window provides a source of strength and patriotic fervor and also inspiration to those who know of Slowacki’s constant struggle to inspire and better the lot of the people of Poland.
It is Slowacki who uttered the immortal words: “Poland, your doom lies in Rome.” These words are a part of the vocabulary of every member of the Polish National Catholic Church because they echo the cause of religious freedom and self-government. This great poet, in his final testament begged his people not to lose their faith in ultimate freedom for themselves as a people and as a nation.
The window of Juliusz Slowacki was given by Franciszek Lipo.
CHRIST THE ARCHPRIEST AND MARY HIS MOTHER
These two windows are on either side of the main altar. Christ the high priest, with the holy chalice in his hands, feeding the souls of the faithful throughout eternity, serves as a reminder to any priest who offers the Mass, that he must go in the footsteps of our Lord, and is not allowed to deviate from the path shown to him by the Saviour.
The window depicting St. Mary is a daily reminder to all of the women, young ladies, and children of the ideal of womanhood and motherhood. The stars and moon remind all of the heavens wherin lives her Son, Jesus Christ.
These windows of Christ the Archpriest and Mary His Mother were given by the Women’s Society for the Adoration of the Most Blessed Sacrament.
This window reminds us of Mary’s trek to Egypt, her quiet prayers and work, and her moments of unbelievable suffering on Golgotha.
This window is dedicated to her, to whom we pray “Hail Mary,” and begs our cooperation in the work of the Church with her Holy Son.