OGDEN — With the installation of eight panels in the vestibule on March 19, Saint James the Just Catholic Church has completed its stained glass window collection.
Seven of the new windows depict the Catholic Church’s sacraments; the eighth is a cross bearing the monogram IHS. Previously installed windows in the church show seraphim, saints and the days of creation.
The artwork has catechetical and historical value as well as beauty, said Father Erik Richtsteig, Saint James the Just pastor.
"Historically, stained glass was seen as a catechism in art because most people couldn’t read until relatively recently, but they could see the pictures of the saints, they could see the saints’ lives in an image, they could see the sacred scripture in an image, they could see the teachings of the church in an image," he said. "People said, ‘You’ve got a great view here, you should have big windows.’ No. You shouldn’t be able to see the exterior world from the inside of a church. You’re stepping out of this world into the new creation. The church itself is an icon of heaven, so when you look out of the church you shouldn’t be seeing temporal things, you should be seeing eternal things like the saints, the symbols of the sacraments or … seraphim."
The stained glass windows at Saint James the Just were done by two people: Bill Christiansen, a parishioner who passed away last year; and Jenkin Powell, a stained glass professional responsible for windows in several other local churches, including Blessed Sacrament, where he was a parishioner until he moved out of state.
Christiansen learned stained glass after he retired so that he would have a hobby, said Mannette Christiansen, his widow. "He was into it long before we moved here" in 1980, she said. He created windows for the old Saint James the Just church, and was in his 80s when he crafted the IHS window. He also made the windows in the sacrament set depicting a bishop’s miter and the chi rho.
Although he died last September, he was able to see the IHS window installed. "He was very proud, and so was I, of his accomplishments," Mannette Christiansen said. "He was very happy to be able to do that."
All of the stained glass windows were donated by people in the parish, Fr. Richtsteig said; the first to be donated was a rose window of the four evangelists, which was given by Deacon Herschel Hester.
With the windows all installed, Fr. Richtsteig would like to add a few more statues, particularly Saint Michael the Archangel and Saint Peregrine, the patron saint of cancer, because "we have a lot of that, and I think it’s a good idea to bring in the big guns," he said.