He replied to him, “Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” -Luke 23:42
The Good Thief Dismas personifies faith. It was he who in his own wretchedness, his own death throes, recognized with the clear eyes of faith that the Man crucified between himself and his partner was Christ, the innocent Son of God. He cried, “Lord, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” And his faith made him one of the first to experience the fruits of redemption.
The wise are more powerful than the strong, and the learned, than the mighty. -Proverbs 24:5
The valiant woman Judith personifies fortitude. In defense of her city during the siege of the Assyrian general, Holofernes, Judith ventured into the enemy camp, beguiled the soldiers and their general with her beauty and beheaded Holofernes as he slept in a drunken stupor. The Assyrian army retreated in fright and confusion. Fortitude is the virtue by which we find courage to do those things which are the will of God and which give God greater glory.
Ten Commandments Panel
This pain is supplied with the white baptismal robe, the two tables of stone and the law, and is adorned by marigolds, a symbol of obedience. By adhering in obedience to the ten commandments, it is possible to keep the christening robe unstained to retain Baptismal innocence.
Effects of Baptism
This section portrays the effects of Baptism, the cleansing from sin, the reclaiming of the soul from the bondage of Satan (the serpent with the sword through its head) the removal of original sin, as symbolized by the apple in the serpent’s mouth. The open window could symbolize membership in the on true Church and the infusion of grace into the soul. The hand before the window signifies that we enter into membership in Christ’s Mystical Body by virtue of redemption, symbolized by the rays as from a wound in his hand.
The baptistry as it was when the church first opened in 1963.
“You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.”
St. John the Evangelist, “the one whom Jesus loved” as he stylized himself, represents charity, best defined in the two great commandments. The reason for St. John’s Gospel and Epistle was to show a generation that had never seen Christ that they could establish a relationship with Christ through love for the members of Christ’s Mystical Body. The chalice and serpent are symbolic of John who was the only apostle not a martyr. Legend tells that enemies attempted to poison him once, but the snake rose out of the cup to warn him. He holds the book of his writings.
Panels two and three in this window are symbols of the Trinity. The hand symbolizes the Father, the Creator while the cross represents the Son, the Redeemer, and the dove is the Holy Spirit, the Sanctifier. Through the waters of Baptism, we are adopted by the Triune God. God’s commission, symbolized by the budded branches, to such a soul is to “bear much fruit” for the Kingdom, by spreading the faith by word and example.
The desire of the just ends only in good; the expectation of the wicked is wrath. -Proverbs 11:23
Hope is personified by holy Job. Shown with the welts and tumors of disease over his boy, Job raises his hands in supplication and praise. God has allowed Job to be tempted, as He permits it for all people, and although Job lost everything he had, children and goods, and sat lost and alone on the dung hill covered with sores, Job prayed constantly, trusting the God who had “given and taken away.”
Whoever pursues justice and kindness will find life and honor.
King Solomon represents the virtue of justice. At the beginning of his reign, he was asked by God what gift he would have. Solomon answered, “Give your servant an understanding heart to judge your people, that I may discern between good and bad.” Shortly afterward, Solomon had poignant opportunity to exercise this wisdom from which his justice sprung. Two women each claimed the same baby as her own. It was up to Solomon to decide which was the real mother. This he did wisely and justly. The owl is a symbol of rule and of wisdom.
A vessel of Chrism, made from olive oil and balm, is shown because anointing with such oil is part of the Baptismal ceremony. The oak branch signifies the strength such anointing imparts on the soul. The candle, symbol of Christ as well as of fidelity, is held by the newly Baptized to show the virtue or faith and the gift of the grace he or she has received.
The Ship of Live
Life's aim is to orient itself with the desire of God and center itself on the love of God. Life is depicted as a ship sailing into the sun which bears the Chi Rho and is the symbol of God.
My hand made all these things when all of them came to be—oracle of the LORD. This is the one whom I approve: the afflicted one, crushed in spirit, who trembles at my word. -Isaiah 66:2
Humility is personified by the Poverello of Assisi, the eminently humble St. Francis. Shown on his hands is the stigmata, the imprint of Our Lord’s wounds, which Francis received on Mount Alverno because of his resemblance to the poor and humble Christ.
Moderate eating ensures sound slumber and a clear mind on rising the next day. -Ecclesiasticus 31:24 (Sirach 31:20)
St. John the Baptist represents temperance or moderation. St. John had prepared for his mission of precursor by living the life of a hermit in the desert, chastising himself and through prayer and penance bringing his flesh to subjection. He preached penance and repentance and rebuked those who lived licentiously. He denied himself in order to develop the virtue of temperance which is so necessary to a true Christian life.
This is the will of God, your holiness: that you refrain from immorality, that each of you know how to acquire a wife for himself in holiness and honor, not in lustful passion as do the Gentiles who do not know God.
-Thessalonians 4:3 (1 Thessalonians 4:3-5)
Purity is exemplified by Joseph of the Old Testament. The woman’s hands shown in the window are those of Potifar’s wife, who tempted Joseph to adultery with her. It was just after Joseph had been sold into Egypt; Potifar had bought Joseph and established him as slave in his household. When she invited him to sin with her, he refused her and fled. As he ran she caught hold of his outer garment which he left in her hands. Joseph’s refusal to sin and his adherence to God’s law won God’s intercession and aid, so that soon Joseph as feed from bondage. So also, purity will serve men, freeing them from bondage to the world, flesh, and devil which serve to trap them and rob them of the liberty of Children of God, a dignity bestowed in Baptism.
The term “Baptistry” is the name given to the separate building in which the Sacrament of Baptism was once solemnly administered, or that portion of the church-edifice later set apart for the same purpose.
One of the earliest existing baptisteries is that of the Lateran Basilica, said to have been erected in its original form under Constantine.
According to the Roman Ritual, it should be railed off; it should have a gate fastened by a lock; and should be adorned, if possible, with a picture of the baptism of Christ by St. John, or other symbols of baptism. It is convenient that it should contain a space to store the holy oils used in baptism.
*Source: Catholic Encyclopedia
The Baptistry at St. Boniface
The stand-alone chapel west of the vestibule served as the Baptistry when St. Boniface Church first opened in 1963. The black macchia marble baptismal font once stood in the center of the circular room beyond the magnificent gates once decorated with flaming braziers, and Alpha & Omega, and a multitude of stars.
Various elements in the church were re-oriented to serve the vision and function of liturgy and the role of the laity in the wake of the Second Vatican Council. The main altar was moved to accommodate the Liturgy versus populum and the side altars were removed. The tabernacle is now placed where the western side altar once stood, and where the eastern side altar once stood, the baptismal font is now located.
The bapstistry now serves as an oratory. It is not uncommon to find people offering prayers to Our Lady of Guadalupe, El Cristo Negro, Nuestra Señora de la Caridad del Cobre, Saint Jude, Santo Toribio Romo, or any one of the many other saints with a popular devotion.
Unfortunately, parts of the stained glass windows are now covered by the niches that hold many of the devotional statues and images.
The stained-glass windows depict the seven virtues and various symbols associated with baptism.
I offer a depiction of the windows a brief explanation of each panel.
The baptistry in its current form as an oratory.
And behold, the star that they had seen at its rising preceded them, until it came and stopped over the place where the child was. -Matthew 2:9
Obedience is personified by Caspar, traditionally named as one the Wise Men of the East. He left his native land, and, perhaps his family, to make a trip of considerable distance and possibly of several years’ duration in obedience to a star. He felt compelled to follow it perhaps because he had read or heard of the prophecies concerning Christ’s birth. Balaam had prophesied that a star would rise in Judea heralding the birth of the redeemer, and this prophecy was remembered in Babylon during the Babylonian Captivity, and Daniel rekindled the hope it gave men and women. So now the discover of the star reminded Caspar of the prophecy, and he obediently followed the call it brought to him.
The wise person is cautious and turns from evil; the fool is reckless and gets embroiled. -Proverbs 14:16
During the Assyrian captivity, many Jews adopted the religion of the country. One who kept the law and remained true to God was Tobias.
Prudence leads to shun what would be damaging spiritually and cling to the safe path of complete righteousness. The kid in the window refers to the episode in which Tobias’ wife, Anna, who worked for a living after Tobias went blind, received a kid in payment for her labors. Tobias, however, feared that it had been stolen by her employer, and he wished to have nothing to do with it. He told her to return it, but Anna became angry and reproached him. Tobias kept silence then, but he prayed for forgiveness if there was wrongdoing involved. His prudence led him to choose to return the kid rather than eat and enjoy it and chance offending God.
This was but a trial which the LORD allowed to befall him, so that he might leave to later ages, as God’s servant Job did, a document of patience.
Blessed Lidwina, virgin is portrayed in the third pane of this window. She holds a cross, symbol of suffering, and the verse from Tobias likens so much suffering as hers and Tobias’ to Job, the model of patience. Quiet and tranquil acceptance of suffering permitted by God is one definition of the virtue of patience, which both Lidwina and Tobias practiced to a heroic degree.
Beholding the Sacred
Exploring the Sacred