Friday, March 9, 2012


At this point you should have collected information about your windows, statues, paintings and decorations, objects, and the physical building. Some of you will have tons of information, some relatively little – both are important. If you put this information together correctly it can become a useful tool for your school or CCD/PSR class, for general information for the parish, or for the archives for future persons to do something with.

When I put together this information for a parish I usually create two different documents; a very short, easy one to follow for people who are just curious but don’t want to spend two hours reading and a more comprehensive one for those who want something more akin to a teacher’s manual. After all – a church is a catechism in stone.

When putting your booklet together consider first a logical path through your church. Where will you start and where will you end and how will you get people there without making them run back and forth, “Now to the front of the church, now to the back of the church, now back to the front – now outside!” This is not the Insanity Workout. You want to provide a nice tour for people.

I usually start with the building in general – direction, shape, pillars . . . Then head into the sanctuary since this is what people look at in depth every Sunday. From there you might want to go to the right and work your way around the nave of the church. It might be advantageous to make two turns around the church if, for example, your windows have one constant theme. In my first parish the windows told the story of salvation history (can you imagine how nice it was to take little kids over there and tell them the story of salvation history starting with the creation of the world and ending with Pentecost?) It made much more sense there to take the windows in order instead of constantly breaking to include other symbols. If the windows are not interconnected this may not be necessary.
This is not the way that I am going to do my current parish since the windows match in pairs on each side of the building working its way back. A different path will have to be worked out.

I do not recommend making an entire turn only referencing the Stations of the Cross for two reasons. 1) We go over the Stations of the Cross regularly every lent. 2) There is usually little symbolism. What symbolism there is may be referred to as you make the circuit. For example, why is Jesus wearing red? Or white?

Some symbols will pop up over and over again. Don’t ignore them but save yourself some work and simply refer back to earlier descriptions. “See Chi Rho on MAIN ALTAR page 3.”

Make clear sections and titles such as SECTION I: NAVE OF CHURCH – PART I – WINDOWS. This will make your booklet more user friendly. At the end of the booklet site your sources so that others might pick up the gauntlet and do research on their parish. I hope this series has been helpful.

No comments: