St. James Renovations

  • The Apse
    Fr. Kunst’s favorite church in Rome, other than St. Peter’s Basilica, is the gothic Santa Maria Sopra Minerva immediately behind the ancient Pantheon. One of the distinct traits of this 13th-century basilica is that the ceiling is portrayed as a dark blue sky adorned with gold stars. This was the inspiration for the ceiling in our newly renovated apse.

  • The Stained Glass
    St. Teresa of Calcutta (Mother Teresa); portrayed in her white and blue pinstripe habit along with her famously gnarled feet. Below her image is the inscription, “But above all be convinced of Jesus’s tender love for you.” The inscription was taken from a letter Mother Teresa wrote to Fr. Kunst in 1995 when he wrote to the future Saint asking for her prayers.

  • St. John Paul the Great is another of Fr. Kunst’s favorites. He is portrayed wearing the chasuble (Mass vestment) he wore for the closing day of World Youth Day Denver is 1993. Our former Bishop, Dennis M. Schnurr, was the executive director of the event. Pope John Paul II gave the vestment at the conclusion of World Youth Day as a token of appreciation for Schnurr’s work. Ten years later in 2004, Bishop Schnurr gave it to Fr. Kunst for his papal artifacts collection. When Bishop Felton blessed the new sanctuary in the spring of 2021, he wore this very chasuble. One interesting detail in the window is actually a mistake by the artists. Pope John Paul II is portrayed wearing red shoes which is something he never did. Red shoes are an ancient tradition of popes but John Paul II was the first pope in centuries not to wear them. To portray him in them is a historical error!

  • The stained glass window of the Holy Spirit seen in the 57th Street entryway is a copy of the stained glass window created by the Italian artist Gian Bernini for the apse of St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. Arguably the most famous portrayal of the Third Person of the Trinity

  • The Altar
    Our altar portrays Da Vinci’s Last Supper. Our renovation restored the color of the Last Supper and added an additional detail. During the Italian Renaissance, it was common for artists to either portray the benefactors of the art in the scene or to portray the church in which the art was housed. If you get close to the altar you will see an image of our parish, St. James the Less, in the window behind Jesus, painted in the background.

  • St. James the Less is the biblical Saint portrayed in the new windows. He is the patron of our parish. He is portrayed with a club, because according to ancient tradition, he was martyred by being beaten. The inscription below his image is from the New Testament letter attributed to him, “Faith that does nothing in practice is thoroughly lifeless.” (James 2:17)

  • St. Gianna Molla is the patron saint of the pro-life movement and is a model of the martyrdom of motherhood. She sacrificed medical treatment while pregnant in order to not risk the life of her unborn daughter. She died shortly after giving birth to Emmanuella Gianna Molla who became a friend to Fr. Kunst. The image of Molla is taken from an actual photo of the saint holding two if her older children. The inscription below her image is “One cannot love without suffering or suffer without love,” taken from a letter from the Saint to her husband.

  • The Crucifix
    Our crucifix is hand-carved by an artist in Brazil. It is painted to look more realistic and bloodier than most crucifixes. It looks like more than just an ornament. The closer you get to the crucifix, the more you can see the details, including the blood and the ashen color of death in his extremities.
    The “titula”, or sign, on top of the cross is very different from the typical INRI inscription, which is the Latin abbreviation for “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews.
    Our titula reflects an interesting historical detail. In Rome, there is an ancient church by the name of Santa Croce in Gerusalemme which is built over the home of St. Helena, the mother of the emperor Constantine. After Christianity was made legal by her son, she traveled to the Holy Land to collect sacred relics associated with the life of Jesus. Among many of the relics she obtained (all which can still be seen in the basilica) was the original titula that hung above Jesus on the cross. Pontius Pilate ordered that the inscription by written in Hebrew, Greek, and Latin so it could be read by all the people who passes by. The Latin inscription was written backward, a fact that is not widely known. Historians suspect that a Jewish slave or servant was forced to write the text and, as a way to snub the Roman powers, he wrote the Latin the same way the Hebrew is written; from right to left.