SHU Chapel's Stained Glass Windows: Like Nothing You've Seen Before

News Story: October 1, 2010
Members from Giuliani Studio's team of artists install the stained glass windows into the Chapel.

They will bathe the Chapel of the Holy Spirit in a golden glow of light all day long with the emphasis shifting as the sun circles the building. Sacred Heart University’s Chapel, which was dedicated on September 27, 2009, now features a dazzling assembly of stained glass windows. They were designed by the same artist whose dramatic mosaic dominates the main sanctuary, Father Marko I. Rupnik, S.J.

Like the rest of the artwork that distinguishes the 550-seat Chapel complex, these windows are full of subtleties and surprises. First, perhaps, is the color scheme. Avoiding the rich reds and blues that characterize much of the stained glass found in American and European churches, Father Rupnik chose a more delicate palette: golden yellow and light grey, colors of the earth. Each of the 45 windows that will fit into 30 niches, is made up of dozens of individual pieces of glass. One of the smaller frames holds a window with 150 distinct pieces fitted painstakingly together in lead frames.

Because the windows are so light, they will not darken the Chapel appreciably, and their golden hue will complement the colorful mosaic of the Risen Jesus that fills the space behind the main altar.

The windows are distinguished by words that are, by design, a bit hard to comprehend. According to Father Rupnik, one must enter deeply into the mystery presented, and the need to consider the words carefully will make them more vivid and memorable. Some parts are easy to discern while other letters in the same word, perhaps, are indistinct or are placed in an unusual position.

Since the Chapel’s dedication, there have been windows in place, of course, and these will remain in position. Each new window has been fitted into the niche available, and a small pocket of air will remain between the two. The stained glass windows are sealed on both sides with glass. On the inside of the Chapel, the seal is clear glass. On the outside, the seal is opaque. Thus, when the sun hits it, there will be no harmful build-up of heat. In fact, a narrow horizontal opening exists at the top and bottom of each window so that air can circulate.

The windows were installed in eight days by a team of five Italian artisans from the Giuliani Studios in Rome. When asked to pick a favorite, they diplomatically insist there was none. Upon completion, they were on the road again where they would perform their artistic magic in Spain.