Historic stained glass awes Cathedral visitors

From the Archives
By Mary Woodward

JACKSON – This past Sunday morning we celebrated the sacrament of Confirmation in St. Peter Cathedral. As is often the case, a candidate chooses a grandparent to be his or her sponsor. At this celebration, one of the candidate’s grandmothers came up from New Orleans on the train to be his sponsor.

While I was going through the rite with the candidates prior to Mass, she commented on the beauty of our stained-glass windows. So, I gave them a little history of the windows and the church.

JACKSON – In 2011, the new frame work for the Rose Window of the Cathedral of St. Peter the Apostle traveled from Conrad Schmitt studios in Wisconsin to Jackson on the side of a large truck, as it was too large to fit in the interior. (Photos by Mary Woodward)

The current St. Peter church structure is the third St. Peter’s. The parish dates back to 1846 and is the fourth parish established in the diocese. Natchez, Paulding, and Biloxi predate Jackson’s parish. The first church burned during the Civil War. The second church was built in 1868 on the grounds where the current rectory and chancery sit now. Once the current church – begun in 1896 and completed in 1900 – was ready for worship. The second church was used for various things until it was moved eight blocks north in 1913 to Cloister Avenue to become the first Holy Ghost Church.

The windows were installed over a period of 30 years beginning with the Rose Window in 1903 and finishing with the Sacred Heart of Jesus and Our Lady of Lourdes windows in the 1930s. All of these windows are in the Munich style and were fashioned by the Mayer – Zettler studios.

The initial ones – the Rose Window, the two transept windows and the first two on each side – were created in the Munich studios. The next three on each side were styled in the St. Louis studio.

The windows in the vestibule around the main doors and the windows above the side entrances were added a little later and do not have the artistic quality of the main windows but are still nice examples of teaching the Bible through visual aids.

What is unique about the windows in our Cathedral is except for the Rose Window they are at eye level. In most churches this size window would be higher up in the wall. Ours are down close to the floor so that one may walk right up to the window and see the detail and artistry.

The beauty of the Rose Window at the Cathedral of St. Peter of the Apostle in Jackson continues to delight many visitors to the church. It was originally installed in 1903 and restored in 2011.

The windows were restored in 2011 by Conrad Schmitt Studios in Wisconsin. Each one was mapped, removed, cleaned, re-leaded and returned to the frames which had been repaired and vented so that the summer heat would not take such a toll. Protective glass featuring the latest technology also was added to the outside of each window.

When the Conrad Schmitt crew removed the Rose Window, they found the frame to be completely rotten. A new frame was built at a mill connected to Conrad Schmitt studios in Wisconsin. It was too large to be placed inside a trailer truck, so it was attached to the side of the truck and made its way down the heartland of the country.

Working in archives, one gets to be a part of such diverse projects and it was quite interesting to watch this project unfold. In addition to chalices and altars, our art and glass in parishes around the diocese are considered a part of the patrimony of the diocesan church and hold a major place in the life and history of our church.
Our Cathedral houses such beautiful treasures given in faith and love by the faithful over the past century. We thank them for sharing their gifts to glorify our God through art.

(Mary Woodward is Chancellor and Archivist for the Diocese of Jackson.