Beholding the Sacred
Of Sacred Light
Saint Joseph’s Church is one of Santa Ana’s gems. Located in French Park, it has served the neighborhood for over 120 years ago. The cornerstone was blessed in 1947 by Los Angeles Archbishop John Cantwell during an era of extensive church building efforts by the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. "Revival" styles dominated church architecture during these decades.
The Romanesque-Gothic style church sits prominently on the corner of Minter and Civic Center Drive.
There is lots that is attractive about this church. From the architecture to the main entrance to the reredos and the stained glass windows, everything in this church is a taste of Gothic style. The windows are narrow and tall and finish in a lancet arch.
Colored light delicately hangs in the air like spears of color in the dimly lit dark church.
The stained glass windows are all richly ornamented with floral and geometric patterns. The windows in the nave depict the mysteries of the Rosary. There are seven main windows on each side of the nave, each measuring about ten feet in height. A smaller window above the confessional on the north side completes the 15 mysteries.
Judson Studio of Los Angeles crafted the majority of the windows.
Judson Studio created the windows of south wall in 1948. The same studio completed the north wall windows in 1954. The smaller windows near the Altar of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the Baptistry and choir loft were created by the J. William Rundstrom studios in 1961.
Despite being created over the span of nearly 15 years, there is no discrepancy in the styles because Rundstrom trained in the stained glass craft under his uncle, William Lees Judson. Eventually, Rundstrom and his cousin bought and operated the Judson Studio. In 1960 Rundstrom sold his share in the company and together with his wife began his studio in Altadena, CA. It is most likely that Rundstrom worked on all the nave window under Judson and the remaining windows in his studio.
These cathedral style stained glass windows are beautiful indeed. They are intricately illustrated, and the colors are intense and rich. They are as impressive as the building itself.
Centuries ago stained glass served not only to decorate but also to teach and spread devotions, especially to those who could not read or without access to books. Continuing in this tradition, one can sit inside Saint Joseph and meditate on the mysteries of the rosary simply by spending time before the windows. The image, the patterns, and the colors are a part of a maze that leads one deeper into the mystery.
The subject of each window are as follows:
South wall from the sanctuary to the narthex:
Jesus is Lost and Found in the Temple
The Agony in the Garden
The Scourging at the Pillar (above confessional)
North Wall from the narthex to sanctuary:
Jesus is Crowned with Thorns /Jesus Carries the Cross.
The Descent of the Holy Spirit
The windows in the old Baptistry:
Phoenix rising on west wall
Holy Spirit on east wall
North Transept windows:
The left window depicts instruments of the Passion. The right window shows crossed keys, symbols of the Petrine Ministry.
Various other windows are simply decorative and follow the same color and geometric patterns as the others.
A small window leading to the choir loft shows a saw and hatchet, both symbols of St. Joseph.
The noble people who built this church had the wisdom and foresight to build a church for the ages. They succeeded in creating a small oasis of beauty unique from any other church in the city.
A visit to this church is worthwhile if you are in the area.
St. Joseph's Catholic Church is located at
727 N Minter St
Santa Ana, CA 92701
Santa Ana, CA
Exploring the Sacred