January 5, 2023 // Diocese

Windows at Oratory of St. Mary Magdelene Designed and Set to Spark Sacred Conversation

Ancient wisdom says the eyes are a window to the soul. In the case of the Oratory of St. Mary Magdalene, located on the campus of Fort Wayne’s St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Church, the windows are giving light to the soul — and telling stories to help souls find the light.

The windows were designed by St. Vincent’s Pastor, Father Daniel Scheidt, and executed by Mayer Studios of Munich. The German group has been in the business of stained-glass creation since 1847. Father Scheidt said it took a little more than a year for the windows to be fabricated and installed. Their shape evokes the windows of the 1904 church which once stood near the site of the Oratory, in the parish graveyard.

The Oratory of St. Mary Magdalene is the fruit of Father Scheidt’s prayer and the generosity of many people to ensure that the Eucharistic Lord is worshipped 24 hours a day, seven days a week in perpetual adoration.  The Oratory is open for anyone to visit for silent conversation with Christ.

The layout of stained-glass window content is organized in the format of a sacra conversazione (“sacred conversation”) among the holy people pictured above those who make a visit to the Oratory for prayer. Like at the table of a dinner party, each saint depicted has a direct connection to his or her window mate. Each also has a connection to another saint directly across the nave. Similarly, those on the furthest north and south have connection to those on the opposite side at the other end of the structure.

Father Scheidt believes our social connections can draw us into closer relationship with the Risen Savior. “Nobody becomes a saint alone. We become saints through friendship. Jesus has friends, and He wants His friends to be friends,” he said. Christ Himself reveals how the faith is shared through friendship, even as He teaches us how to pray through friendship.

The detailed information about the windows described here was provided by Father Scheidt to better understand the structure, giving current, past, and future Christians a place to share in unison a love of God. Each pairing of saints in the six main glassworks of the Oratory embodies one of the Beatitudes, as do the saints in the paintings at the back of the Oratory.

West Wall

North Window — The Beatitude theme of this window makes reference to the peacemakers of Matthew 5:9.

St. Gianna Beretta Molla holds a baby in this image to embody those who serve the health of others, especially when it is a dire situation. This saint is the patron of motherhood, life of the married, and physicians.

St. André Bessette joins her, holding an oratory he built in Canada, inspired by St. Joseph. Patron of those who welcome outsiders, but find themselves on the margins, he supports those in need of God’s healing touch in spirit, mind, or body. A religious brother in the Congregation of Holy Cross, he mirrors the activity of the circuit-riding priests who aided 19th Century parishioners of St. Vincent’s.

South Window — The Beatitude theme for this window recalls those who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, as articulated in Matthew 5:10.

Blessed Maria Theresia Bonzel holds the Motherhouse of the Sisters of St. Francis of Perpetual Adoration and is included because of her status as patron of Eucharistic Adoration and consecrated religious life in the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend.

Blessed Stanley Rother, her window mate, is included because of his status as a priest and martyr. He studied at Mt. St. Mary’s Seminary, Emmitsburg, and is the patron of seminarians, priests, and those who are called to thrive in homes new to them.

Center Window — The Beatitude theme of this window makes reference to those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, as articulated in Matthew 5:6.

St. Louis Martin was the father of St. Thérèse of Lisieux and is the patron of fathers, husbands, widowers, and those who suffer from mental illness. Members of his family are buried in the cemetery of the Oratory at St. Vincent.

St. Zelie Martin was the mother of St. Thérèse of Lisieux and is the patron saint of mothers, wives, and those who face an early death.

St. Joseph of Arimathea — While a painting, the likeness of the saint who cared for the Body of the Lord after Crucifixion (Mark 15:43) appears in the shape and dimension of the windows of the Oratory.

East Wall

North Window — The pure of heart, as described in Matthew 5:8 are represented in this window.

St. Clare of Assisi looks down on the contemplative while holding the church building that holds the Crucifix that spoke to St. Francis. She is patroness of love that is hidden and focused entirely on only God. All who are overlooked are remembered through this saint, who was overlooked, herself.

Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati exemplifies those who fully engage their Baptism and Confirmation, without being of the world. This patron of missionaries and young people of the Fort Wayne-South Bend Diocese was also a member of the St. Vincent de Paul Society.

Center Window — Matthew 5:7’s reminder that those who show mercy to others will be shown mercy themselves is presented.

St. Vincent de Paul and a Boy Scout in front of him embody directly serving the poor, forming life-long consecrations, and growing spiritually.

St. Louise de Marillac and a child with special needs call to mind those who are forced to find a second life vocation, radical service to those in need of a spiritual sister or mother, and widows.

South Window — Matthew 5:5’s meek and their inheritance of the earth are visually represented here.

St. Josephine Bakhita was selected as a memorial to all those enslaved who have won their freedom and find faith in a world seemingly without God. Interceding for veterans, she is especially noteworthy for the Civil War soldiers buried in the cemetery of the Oratory she overlooks.

St. Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin is pictured holding the oratory Our Lady of Guadalupe requested him to build in Mexico. He brings to mind the first indigenous people to receive Catholicism in the Americas.

St. Joseph Spouse of Mary — Also a painting in the shape, form, and dimension of actual windows, this saint cared for Jesus as an Infant (Luke 2).

Design Process Photos

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