Assumption Church may have been in its location off Pitney Avenue for five years, but there's always been something missing.
Now, with the installation of a set of five new stained and etched glass windows high above the new space, the move is complete.
"Part of the construction plan was to have the upper windows completed," said the Rev. Nicholas Dudo. "It took us a little while to get there, but we're completing that right now."
The initial plan was to have the windows put in shortly after the move, but that was delayed due to a faulty fire suppression system that forced repairs shortly after the church was built. The repairs shifted focus onto transporting and mounting a smaller set of stained glass windows from the old church off the White Horse Pike, which now ring the facility.
The new windows were commissioned about a year ago and installed by their maker, Philadelphia-based Willet Hauser Architectural Glass Co., the week of June 17.
The new windows depict scenes central to the Catholic religion: the Annunciation, or the angel Gabriel informing Mary that she was to bear the son of God; the Pieta, an image of Mary cradling Jesus' body after he was taken down from the cross; Mary's and Joseph's flight into Egypt with the newborn Jesus to escape King Herod's order to have all infants killed; the Assumption, or Mary's ascent to Heaven; and the Pentecost, or the establishment of the first Christian church.
The Assumption greets visitors above the church vestibule, and the Annunciation is above the entrance to the nave, or the body of the church. The Flight into Egypt and the Pentecost are at opposite sides of the nave, and the Pieta sits above a crucifix at the apse, or head of the church.
With such a long time between the move and the installation of the windows, anticipation for their unveiling has been building in the congregation, Dudo said.
"They've been asking and waiting," Dudo said during the installation process. "We told them that they'll be installed this week, so I think they're anticipating the look, to see them."
The use of stained glass windows dates back to the early days of the Catholic church, Dudo said, when many churchgoers were illiterate. The images depicted on the windows served to illustrate the stories the faithful heard in Mass.
The tradition expanded in the Gothic period as churches began to grow in size and thus required more windows. Rather than put up simple clear or colored windows, architects took the opportunity to place stained glass.
Hundreds of years later, most can read, and for those who can't, there are printed illustrations. Still, while the educational value of the windows may have shrunk, their aesthetic value is timeless.
"We have a beautiful church," said Tom Buonpane, who coordinated the project. "We are just making it more beautiful with stained glass."
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