By NICHOLE GOLDEN, Staff writer | Published January 22, 2015
JASPER—Parishioners of Our Lady of the Mountains Church in Jasper celebrated the Christmas season with a pair of new stained glass windows, the first of a total of 20 windows to be placed in 2015.
Created by stained glass artisan Joseph Beyer and his staff at Beyer Studio in Philadelphia, the new windows flank the altar in the church.
Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory blessed the windows Dec. 21, 2014.
Father Charles Byrd, the pastor, said many of the parishioners donated funds to the project as a memorial for a loved one.
The first pair, the Magnificat windows, have been “exceedingly well received,” said Father Byrd. Each of the windows has three sections with the upper portions triangular in shape.
Our Lady of the Mountains Church has 500 registered families, and Father Byrd said they are proving that even smaller parishes can have beautiful art.
The window on the left side depicts the Annunciation from Luke’s Gospel. The Virgin Mary and the Archangel Gabriel are pictured among the blooming mountain laurel of Appalachia.
In the triangular upper section four angels represent the first four days of creation. The lower section features St. Francis of Assisi, St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (St. Edith Stein), St. Patrick and St. Teresa of Avila.
“They’re saints that focus on evangelization. They represent a stretch of history,” said Father Byrd.
The window to the right depicts the Assumption of the Virgin when she is brought to heaven and crowned with stars. In the upper section, three angels represent the final three of the seven days of creation. One of the angels holds a strand of DNA to represent the creation of humanity. God the Father, depicted as an elderly man, drops stars upon Mary.
In the lower register are St. Benedict, St. Margaret of Scotland, St. Boniface and St. Margaret Clitherow.
Both Sts. Margaret were wives and mothers, and Father Byrd felt it important to depict their examples of holiness.
“We have lots of saints who are nuns. We wanted lay women,” he explained.
Part of the text of the Magnificat prayer spans both sides of the window.
There are many stunning windows still to be installed in the church, and scripturally significant garden scenes are planned for the parish’s narthex.
“It’s going to be a beautiful Easter window,” said Father Byrd about the eastern-facing window. As the sun rises, it will illuminate the moment when the risen Jesus encounters Mary Magdalene.
On the western side, the setting sun will be viewed through “the really powerful” scene of Jesus’ Agony in the Garden.
In the nave of the church, there will be four tall windows depicting some of the martyrs in the Roman Canon. St. Lawrence is a “nod to our Latino community,” said Father Byrd. St. Lawrence, born in Spain, was raised and educated in Rome.
Also featured will be St. Agnes, St. Ignatius of Antioch and Sts. Felicity and Perpetua.
A matriarchal set of windows will be located on one side of the sanctuary, including the Old Testament figures, Deborah, Hannah and Judith, and then St. Anne teaching the Virgin. The patriarchal side will feature the lineage of St. Joseph.
“It’s sort of a Jesse tree over there,” said Father Byrd.
The placement of the windows in the church and their relationship to one another was “beautifully thought-out” by the design studio, said Father Byrd. He believes those who come to pray will become aware of this and be impacted.
The pastor expects the entire window project to be finished by next Christmas. Previously, the north Georgia church only had clear pane windows.
Father Byrd emphasizes that the windows “are not for our glory but for the glory of God.”
A video on how the stained glass windows are being designed and made is available on the parish website, www.olmjasper.com.