Three stained glass panels in the north transept near the Blessed Sacrament Chapel suggest the Last Supper, Adoration of the Eucharist, and the Eucharist as Sacrifice. Crucifix by Jean Lambert-Rucki.Three stained glass panels in the north transept near the Blessed Sacrament Chapel suggest the Last Supper, Adoration of the Eucharist, and the Eucharist as Sacrifice. Crucifix by Jean Lambert-Rucki.

“Watch the Windows”

Great West Window in the St. Norbert Abbey Church

Great West Window in the St. Norbert Abbey Church

The Men of the Abbey Church

As seen in the Spring 2009 issue of Abbey Magazine (page 9)

By Bishop Robert Morneau | Summer 1993

Watch the windows
for the story.
To the west in stained glass
dwells the Trinity
and the noble Norbert.
High on the south wall
is told the Eucharist
in nine chapters,
and to the north
the divine office,
the community at prayer.

But the story
is larger than glass
and to find it one must go
to classrooms,
the slums of Lima,
the parishes of Green Bay,
Jackson, Albuquerque.
There the people
are in search of God
and joining them
the men in white.

’Tis in song
that the story is loudest
“Vivat in aeternum,
in aeternum vivat!”
Time meshes with eternity
— fulfilling the
Norbertine mission.

Designed by Francis Deck of Emil Frei studio, St. Louis, the stained glass windows of St. Norbert Abbey are regarded as the treasures and jewels of the abbey. Even after more than half a century, older Norbertines say they still find something new when they gaze upon the windows.

See “Bloom Where You Are Planted” (page 6) in the Spring/Summer 2013 issue of Abbey Magazine for reflections on the abbey windows from Fr. Stephen Rossey, O. Praem.


Church

Together the main stained glass windows in the St. Norbert Abbey church summarize the Liturgy of the Roman Catholic Church: the south clerestory windows depict (in symbolic form) the Liturgy of the Eucharist; the windows of the north clerestory depict the Liturgy of the Hours; and the Great West Window depicts the Trinity, along with St. Norbert, the Tree of Life, and seven rivulets of water symbolizing the seven Sacraments.

Four windows along the lower wall in the north nave represent the four evangelists and those in the south nave represent the four major Doctors of the Western Church.

Three panels in the south transept near the Marian Shrine contain symbolic images of the Virgin Mary. Intertwined fish suggest her role as Mother of Jesus in the dual natures in her Son; a large lily, her Immaculate Conception; and triple crowns, as Queen of Heaven. Three panels in the north transept near the Blessed Sacrament Chapel suggest the Last Supper, Adoration of the Eucharist, and the Eucharist as Sacrifice.


Crypt

Regarding St. Joseph, Abbot Bernard Pennings, O. Praem., founder of St. Norbert Abbey, once said, “Yes, I pray to God directly, to the Lord, and to St. Norbert as my intercessor, but St. Joseph is my choice in times of great need.” The three stained glass windows in the crypt of St. Norbert Abbey honor Norbertine devotion to St. Joseph as intercessor and guardian of families, intercessor for the Universal Church, and intercessor for the faithful departed.


Chapter Room

The overall theme of the 24 stained glass windows in the chapter room at St. Norbert Abbey is “Salvation History,” including Scripture passages from creation through the Babylonian exile of the Old Testament (south wall) to events in the Life of Christ from the New Testament (north wall).


Abbot’s Chapel

Eight stained glass windows in the abbot’s chapel at St. Norbert Abbey depict major events in the life of Norbert, founder of the Norbertine Order. The symbolism and character of Norbert are treated in a broad and simple manner. Each window is filled with one basic thought or event that was important in the saint’s life.

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