Behind the altar in the main sanctuary is the commanding presence of the Risen Jesus. The Lord is literally surrounded by His faithful ones, His Apostles. He has come to them in the upper room to bestow the gift of peace. Depicted on the left of Jesus, from the top, are Dazzling Colors and Shapes Catch the Eye
Judas was not there, of course, and neither was Saint Thomas who said he wouldn’t believe the testimony of the other Apostles until he was able to put his fingers into the Lord’s own wounds and see for himself. And those wounds are easy to see here: the nail marks are evident in Jesus’ hands and feet, and a wide gash marks His chest where the soldier’s lance had struck it.
Saints Peter; James, the son of Zebedee; Simon the Zealot; Jude (Thaddeus); and Andrew. On the right, from the top, are Saints John, the brother of James; Bartholomew; Philip; James, the son of Alphaeus; and Matthew. Visitors find it difficult to understand why just 10 disciples are present until they recall that in John 20, not all 12 of the Apostles were in the upper room. The triumph of Jesus over death takes place, literally, in the midst of the reality of the Incarnation. While the image of the Easter Lord is central, it cannot be understood as separate from the Incarnation and the gift of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. The great mysteries of faith are summed up, visually, in this unique and powerful mosaic: preaching the Gospel without a single word.
These iconic images are rich with such detail. In total, a quarter-million stone and glass pieces were used to construct the mosaics. In the main sanctuary alone, the artwork fills more than 1,200 square feet, providing a vibrant catechesis – or teaching of the fundamentals of the faith. The Risen Jesus is depicted in the very act of redemption: He is seen pulling Adam and Eve from the depths of the netherworld: death will have no more dominion over the human
race. In a touching detail, the Lord draws Eve’s hand to His Sacred Heart; it is an image that is echoed in the smaller adjoining Chapel of the Nativity where the Blessed Mother is shown in a similar movement, gesturing toward the side of her newborn Son.
While Jesus is at the very center of the sanctuary, two major images are also easy to discern. At the left, as one looks toward the altar, is the Archangel Gabriel who announces to the Virgin Mary that she will bear the Son of God – if she agrees.
The Virgin stands at the right pondering these things in her heart. In her hands are two balls of yarn, a homely image that suggests the ordinary life of the Lord’s Handmaiden while suggesting the poetic image that she will knit together in her womb the long-awaited Messiah. Other images on this dramatic reredos range from a fiery red orb indicating the presence of the Holy Spirit to a small squirrel – the Rupnik team’s gentle mascot that makes an appearance in all his major works.