A Tour of the Stained Glass Windows of Sacred Heart Cathedral


Text By: Rev. Timothy W. Farrell

The stained glass windows in Sacred Heart Cathedral tell us of God’s love for His people and also tell us some of the history of the Church Universal and the growth of the Faith in the Diocese of Gallup and in the Southwest.

You will begin to see the story of God’s covenant with His People beginning with Noah and continuing throughout our history. That covenant, to which these remarkable stained-glass windows attest, has continued through the different cultures in our own region. The love story between God and His People is a beautiful one, and, if meditated upon, also an unforgettable story.

The Cathedral Is Built

Before we begin our tour, we should recall the history of the building of this Cathedral and how the windows came about.

A centerpiece of Bishop Bernard Espelage’s dream as the first Bishop of the Diocese of Gallup, founded in 1939 by Pope Pius XII, was to have a Cathedral giving testament to the great and enduring Faith of the people of the Diocese over many hundreds of years. The bishop’s dream became a reality when, on Sunday, June 19, 1955, the new Cathedral, located at corner of Woodrow and Green Streets, was solemnly dedicated.

The Cathedral, built in Mediterranean Romanesque style, towers above other structures in the city of Gallup. High on a hill, its squared tower rises 64 feet above street level, the majestic structure standing dominant over the town below. The Cathedral is visible from virtually every corner and from any of Gallup’s approaches.

The building of the Cathedral marked the end of an era in which the Diocese of Gallup had had to use make—shift facilities as the Cathedral. This Cathedral truly marked the growth and stability of the Diocese—it had come into its own as a local Church.

Though the overall dream had been accomp1ished—the building of the Cathedral—one dream had to be reserved for a later date and that was the series of stained glass windows which Bishop Espelage wanted for the Cathedral to tell of the history of the Roman Catholic Church, especially in the Southwest, particularly in the area which was the Diocese of Gallup.

Plans For Windows Begin

Bishop Espelage had in his mind for some time what sorts of windows he wished to have commissioned for the Cathedral, but not until January of 1959 did the first correspondence go out to the studio which would eventually be commissioned to do the unique works of art.

On January 4, 1959, Rev. Conradin Stark, O.F.M., then rector of the Cathedral, wrote to the Conrad Pickel Studio, located in Waukesha, Wisconsin. He stated that Bishop Espelage wished to install stained glass windows, replacing the windows presently in the Cathedral, which “are a light amber color and installed in steel frames.”

Father Conradin said. that this first inquiry about the windows was “merely an inquiry as what would be required in order to have you draw up some plans.” He added that at that point there were no definite ideas of what subjects should be represented in the various windows, but that would be worked out at a later date.

Much letter writing between the Cathedral and the studio went on, in which ideas were put forth, then accepted or rejected. Over a year passed before a contract was drawn up and approved by Bishop Espelage. According to the contract, the work would include the stained glass and the storm windows for the following windows: four sanctuary windows, six large clerestory windows, two smaller clerestory windows, four transept windows, ten circular windows and three balcony windows. All the windows, according to the contract, were to have figure designs except the ten circular windows which would have symbolical design.

Bishop Espelage wanted only the best materials used in the windows in the Cathedral. Mouth blown, imported, and domestic antique glass and heavy Normal slabs were used in all the windows. The design which was applied to the glass would be properly fired to be permanent. The lead used was 9/16 inches to 3/4 inches thick, soldered and cemented on both sides to make the windows waterproof and air tight. Strengthening bars were applied to each section to make the windows firm and rigid.

The total price for the stained glass windows and the storm glass, including delivery and complete installation of both, was $22,000. Paul Pickel, now president of the studio his father founded, stated that the original price has tripled or quadrupled since then. “The price is certainly amazing when you look back at the workmanship and the materials used,” he said in an interview from the Conrad Pickel Studio which is now located in Vero Beach, Florida. “You won’t see workmanship and materials at that price ever again, I can assure you.”

Mr. Pickel, who visited Sacred Heart Cathedral in 1990 to view his father’s work here, said he was deeply moved by what his father had been able to achieve. “My father, who, by the way, lives and works in his own studio here in Florida, did a beautiful job along with his fellow craftsmen and artists,” he said. “He put great love and time into the windows at Sacred Heart Cathedral. Walking around that Cathedral was a truly moving experience for me. My father’s love and great faith are in those windows.”

Mr. Pickel said his father, Conrad, “remembers first of all the honor of being selected to do the stained glass windows at the Cathedral. The project was one of the finest commissions in the country at the time and just the honor of being selected for such a prestigious project stands out in his mind.”

Conrad Pickel also remembers the “tremendous detail that was incorporated into the designs. The windows were so much more of the historic nature than any previous ones he designed,” his son said.

The other memory of Conrad Pickel, his son said, is getting the opportunity to unite the races and ethnic groups in the windows. “The vast majority of his previous work incorporated anglo figures,” Mr. Pickel said.

“Recently, looking at slides of this project, he (Conrad) was impressed by some of the colors and shading in the glass which is virtually impossible to reproduce today,” his son said.

The Windows in the Cathedral

A careful and detailed study preceded the execution and installation of the present windows. The style and design and the message that the windows were to portray had to be established before the actual work could begin.

In cooperation between Bishop Espelage, Rev. Conradin Stark, O.F.M. , and the studio, an overall plan was drawn up which served as the basis for sketches and the full—size drawings of the individual windows. Therefore, the windows that are in the Cathedral are the result of much consultation between Church and studio.

The windows in the sanctuary deal with the Holy Eucharist and the Priesthood as foretold in the Old Testament and as fulfilled in Christ and in the Priesthood of the New Testament. The upper nave windows depict events in the life of Jesus Christ, especially those which seem to express in a particular way His love for us. It is the motive of love which underlies the devotion to the Sacred Heart to which the Cathedral is dedicated. The three choir windows bring this theme to a peak in the adoration of the Sacred Heart. The transelpt windows portray some of the highlights of the missionary activities in New Mexico and in the Southwest.

The Tour Begins

Now that you have some history of this Cathedral and the hard work which lay behind the beautiful stained glass windows, begin at the back of the Church in the center aisle, looking up to the balcony. There you will see three windows entitled “The Consecration of the World to the Sacred Heart.”

After His life on earth which we see illustrated in the nave windows, Jesus ascended into heaven where he “sitteth at the right hand of God, the Father Almighty.” As the God—Man he is the mediator between God and man. The love

This is the center window of a series of three entitled “The Consecration of the World to the Sacred Heart.” This complex work is we owe our Savior has found its deepest expression in the worship of the Sacred Heart, symbol of the burning love of Jesus for us.

In the encyclical “Annun Sacrum” issued in 1899, Pope Leo XIII dedicated the whole world to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. The prayer of consecration which since that time is repeated every year by the faithful all over the world is illustrated in the three balcony windows:

Jesus, Redeemer of the human race, look down upon us, humbly prostrate before thy altar. We are Thine and Thine we wish to be. . .Give peace and order to all nations, and make the earth resound from pole to pole with one cry: Praise to the Divine Heart that wrought our salvation—to it be glory and honor forever! Amen.”

The focal point of the three windows is a large figure of Our Lord, revealing his flaming heart encircled by the crown of thorns. His raised arms suggest the divine invitation: “Come to me all who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Matt. 11:28-29)

Witnessing the divine claim, we see the hand of the Father in the heavenly sphere to suggest the words of Scripture: “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him.” (Matt. 17:5) The crown symbolizes his universal kingship, an idea intimately connected with the worship of the Sacred Heart. His feet rest on the globe which is his footstool. (Is. 66:1)

Surrounding Christ are the representatives of the different races and continents. In the left lancet we see a white family and a black couple. In the right lancet the Native Americans and Asians are represented. It is a vision of the “one fold and one shepherd” united in the love and adoration of the Sacred Heart.

St. Therese of the Child Jesus

We take a small detour now. St. Therese of the Child Jesus is found in an isolated position in the Gospel side of the lobby (next to the belltower staircase). This full-size figure of St. Therese of Lisieux, the Little Flower of Jesus, was chosen because of her position as patroness of the missions of the world in which, during her lifetime, she had such a keen interest. It is fitting that she should have a place in the Cathedral of a diocese whose vast territory is covered with so many missionary enterprises among the Hispanics and the various Native American tribes of New Mexico and Arizona.

St. Therese of the Child Jesus is found in an isolated position in the Gospel side of the lobby (next to the bell-tower staircase.) Her figure was chosen because she is patroness of the missions of the world.

The Nave Windows


Back in the center aisle again and turning towards the front of the Church and away from the balcony, look up to your left and see three large stained glass windows.

The Nativity: The first window in the upper nave depicts the beloved scene of the Nativity amid manifestations of heavenly glory but also in the humbleness of the stable in Bethlehem. The Virgin Mary and the Holy Infant are depicted with the broad beam of light upon them, radiating from the star of Bethlehem, indicating the high origin of this child. On the right we see St. Joseph, Jesus’ foster father, looking on in joy and worship. In the upper section we see the angel of the Lord announcing the good news to the shepherds in the field.

The Presentation: “They took him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord” (Luke 2:22) We see the holy family in the temple of Jerusalem for the ceremony of the presentation. The window depicts the moment when Simeon “received him into his arms and blessed God saying: ‘Now thou dost dismiss thy servant, O Lord, according to thy word, in peace, because my eyes have seen thy salvation…’ ” (Luke 2:28-29) The Blessed Virgin is kneeling down to offer her son to God who replies through the words of Simeon: “This child is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel. . .and thy own soul a sword shall pierce.” (Luke 2:24-35) The symbol of the winged heart and the sword express the dolor of the Virgin and her willingness to suffer with her Son. In the upper sections we see the priest who has performed the ceremony and the prophetess Anna who came to the temple at the same hour.

The Feast at Cana: The third window to your upper left in the nave finds Jesus together with his mother. They are both invited to a marriage feast. The young couple, in whose honor the feast is given, is seated at the table. A streaming pennon with two interwoven rings and a flower bedecked garland express the joyful occasion. “And the wine having run short, the mother of Jesus said to him: ‘They have no wine…’ Now six stone water-jars were placed there…and Jesus said to them: ‘Fill the jars with water.” This is the moment depicted in the window. We see the six jars being filled with water: through the power of Jesus, the water becomes wine and through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin, the young couple is spared embarrassment.

Christ and Mary Magdalene: Turning your eyes to the right and up, the farthest window of the three large windows in the nave shows us three different events in the life of Mary Magdalene. The scene in the center shows her as the penitent woman who asks and obtains forgiveness of her sins from Jesus Christ. Jesus has been invited into the house of the Pharisee. “A woman in the town who was a sinner. . .brought an alabaster jar of ointment. ..she began to bathe his feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head and kissed his feet and anointed them with the ointment.” (Luke 7:37-38) Jesus rebukes the self-righteous Pharisee and comforts Mary Magdalene with the words: “Thy sins are forgiven…thy faith has saved thee; go in peace.” (Luke 7:48-50) This moving scene in the house of the Pharisee has changed a sinner into a faithful follower of our Lord. Jesus becomes a friend of Mary Magdalene. In the artist’s stained glass rendition of the life of Mary Magdalene, she is depicted as the sister of Martha and Lazarus. When Lazarus dies, Jesus calls him back to life, as suggested in the scene in the lower part of the window. An equal proof of friendship is the appearance of Christ to Mary Magdalene on Easter morning (top section).

Jesus Blessing the Children: “And they were bringing little children to him that he might touch them, but the disciples rebuked those who brought them. But when Jesus saw them, he was indignant, and said to them: ‘Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for of such is the kingdom of God.” (Mark 10:13-14) This window, in the middle of the three large windows in the nave, shows Jesus seated under a tree, holding two children in his arms who look up to him in love and confidence. Other children are waiting for their turn to be blessed by the Lord. In the background we see parents bringing their children to Jesus. The castle in the upper right signifies the Christian family as the stronghold of our society.

The Crucifixion of Jesus Christ is depicted in this beautiful window, one of a series showing Christ’s love for His people

The Crucifixion: This window portrays the central event in all human history. There on the cross Our Lord hung for hours in spiritual and physical agony as the Lamb of God, sacrificed for our countless sins. Beside the cross stand the Blessed Virgin, His mother, and St. John, the sorrowing disciple. Above the Savior’s head is the tablet bearing the inscription INRI, “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews.” The skull at the foot of the cross represents Adam and his sinful disobedience, the wages of which were death, for which the Savior made atonement. The death of Our Lord is accompanied by extraordinary events of nature: the sun was darkened and the curtain of the temple was torn (Jerusalem and the temple are suggested in the background.)

Circular Windows in Lower Nave – The Sacraments

Standing in the same position at the back of the Church, notice on both sides beneath the scenes from Jesus’ life are circular windows which depict six of the seven sacraments (the Eucharist is depicted in other windows later on in the tour). The size and shape of the circular windows made it advisable to use symbolic designs in these windows. Because of their importance to the life of every Roman Catholic, the symbols of the sacraments were carried out in these windows.

This window depicts the keys and scourge, symbols of the Sacrament of Penance or Reconciliation.

Baptism: (Window over the baptismal font to your left enclosed in the gates) The shell and water signify the pouring of the water during Baptism. The rays from above suggest the supernatural life.

Confirmation: (Window somewhat hidden within the confessional to your left) Descending dove and flames. The Holy Spirit and the Seven Gifts: wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, fear of the Lord.

Penance: (Window placed in the Sacrament of Reconciliation room) Keys and scourge – the crossed keys symbolize the forgiving and the retaining of sins, the scourge indicates the personal penance and the purpose of amendment.

Holy Orders: (To your right below the window depicting the Crucifixion) Stole and shepherd’s staff- the stole symbolizes the power of the priest to confer the sacraments, the staff suggests his duty as shepherd or pastor.

Matrimony: (Circular window in the middle of the series) The interwoven rings—the indissoluble union between husband and wife; the flames—their mutual love; the cross—their union has been blessed by Christ.

Anointing of the Sick: The oil stock—symbolizes the anointment, the candles suggesting the setting at the bedside of the sick or dying person.

Coats of Arms—Windows of Popes and Bishops

Facing the altar, move down the middle aisle to about the center of the Cathedral and stand there, first looking up to your left and see the two high circular windows. The window closest to you is the coat of arms of the Archdiocese of Santa Fe in which Province the Diocese of Gallup is. Next to this coat of arms is the coat of arms of Pope John XXIII who was the pontiff at the time the windows were installed.

Turning to your right, there are again two high circular windows. The one closest to you is the coat of arms of Bishop Bernard Espelage, O.F.M., the first bishop of Gallup and the bishop who built the Cathedral and commissioned these windows. Next to this window is the coat of arms of the Archdiocese of Durango, Mexico, the diocese that oversaw New Mexico, Arizona, and Colorado until 1850 when Archbishop Lamy and the Diocese of Santa Fe (an archdiocese later on) took over protection of this territory.

The Archdiocese of Durango, Mexico, is represented in this coat of arms, found in one of the circular windows in the Cathedral. The Archdiocese of Durango oversaw New Mexico, Arizona and Colorado until 1850 when the Diocese of Santa Fe was founded.

Windows of Universal Appeal

Going forward now to the entrance to the sanctuary, you will note two large windows in the upper nave of the Cathedral, placed there because of the universal appeal of their subjects. The one to your left is a representation of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the beloved patroness of every Spanish-speaking Catholic, and, indeed, of interest to every American since she is patroness of all the Americas.

The other window in the upper nave on the right side depicts the wonder-working St. Anthony of Padua in a scene that recalls one of the most striking miracles of his life. The story goes that in controversy with a nonbeliever concerning the real presence of Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament, St. Anthony made the challenging statement that even a dumb animal could recognize the presence of its Lord and Master in the Holy Eucharist. The nonbeliever took up the challenge and on an appointed day brought forth a donkey. St. Anthony presented the Blessed Sacrament, and, to the amazement of all and especially of the nonbeliever, the donkey fell on its knees in adoration before the real presence of Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament.

The Four Historical Southwestern Windows

The four windows in the transept (the areas off the main part of the Cathedral which you can see from where you are now standing) illustrate some of the highlights of the church history of New Mexico. It is the history of the Franciscan missionaries who wrote these annals with their sweat and blood, beginning with the discovery of this region in the sixteenth century up to our present day.

First walk over to the transept to your left.

St. Anthony of Padua is shown in this window in a scene which recalls one of the most striking miracles of his life concerning devotion to the Blessed Sacrament.

1. Looking at the two windows from this vantage point, the window to your right depicts the heroic Franciscan, Fray Marcos de Niza, in 1537. He was the first European man who ever looked upon a landmark of our antiquity, a Pueblo town. After untold hardships (accompanied by Stevanico and a few Indians), he reached the famous Pueblo of Zuni. He planted the cross and named the territory “The New Kingdom of St. Francis.” Marcos de Niza is therefore called the discoverer of New Mexico and Arizona.

The window to your left in this transept shows Santa Fe. The main feature of the window is the carving of the Blessed Virgin Mary, La Conquistadora, America’s oldest Madonna, brought to Santa Fe in 1625 and now in the cathedral shown above. The group of colorful Indians surrounding the Madonna symbolizes their faith and their devotion to the Blessed Virgin.

After the Indian uprising of 1680, during which the statue had to be carried to safety, the Madonna has conquered their hearts.

Archbishop Lamy, the untiring organizer of the Church in New Mexico and builder of the Cathedral of Santa Fe, is shown blessing the people.

Now turn and walk across the Cathedral to the opposite transept. To your right is a scene that portrays the “City of the Sky” and its apostle, Juan Ramirez. “Declining an escort of soldiers and with no other weapon than the crucifix” he climbed up to the city. “The Indians met him with a great flight of arrows” (arrows on the rock in the lower left, Indian hiding on the right). Despite this unfriendly welcome he converted the Indians and lived alone with them for twenty years. One of his great achievements is the church on the summit of the rock. We see the Indians as they carry the gigantic beams and other building material on the rock-cut trail to the summit, while Father Ramirez is holding his weapon, the crucifix, and a plan of the church. The beams of light radiating from the church signify the light of faith shining upon the Pueblos of the South.

Father Anselm Weber, O.F.M., missionary to the Navajos, is shown at the famous meeting with the chiefs.

To your left is the scene portraying the humble beginnings of missionary work of the Franciscans among the Navajos in 1898. In the background we see a typical New Mexico landscape and the porch of the log house in which Father Anselm Weber, O.F.M. (see at center) met the Indian chiefs. The model of the school he is holding in his hands symbolizes his plans for educating the Navajos. On the right, holding a book, is Mother Katharine Drexel and two of her sisters who will teach at the school. The order she founded was the Blessed Sacrament Sisters. Around Father Anselm is a group of colorful Indians, who, despite their doubts, have promised to back the Navajo foundation. The bottom section shows a “hogan,” the traditional Navajo home made of dried mud and wood, and a woman working with a loom, making a Navajo blanket.

Windows Next to the Side Altars

Standing where you presently are, look to your far left and note the window which contains much symbolism. The eye of the Father within the triangle – Son of the Eternal Father. Book and oil lamp – In Whom are all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. House- House of God and Gate of Heaven. Crown and Cross – Of infinite majesty. Hands, Wheat, Grapes – Full of Goodness and Love. Chi-Rho, Flames – Burning Furnace of Charity.

In the opposite transept you find: Lyre – Most worthy of all praise. Fountain – Fountain of life and holiness. Crown, Heart – King and center of all hearts.

The Sanctuary Windows

To end our tour, go back to the center aisle of the Cathedral and then up into the sanctuary, standing in front of the altar there. Standing facing the altar and tabernacle, look up to your right and the window closest to you.

This window depicts Noah after the great flood, when Noah and his family have left the ark which has settled on a high mountain. We see the animals file out of the ark to live again on dry land. Noah has built a stone altar and is worshipping God and imploring divine protection against further disaster. The smoke rising from the altar to the sky symbolizes God’s acceptance of the sacrifice. With those who have been saved in the “Ark of Salvation,” God establishes his covenant: “I will set my bow in the clouds and it shall be the sign of a covenant between me and between the earth.” (Gen. 9:13)

The window next to it shows Melchisedech, the King of Salem, who went out to meet Abraham and his victorious soldiers. Abraham is kneeling in front of, the altar, his soldiers shown with their weapons in the upper left. Melchisedech is offering bread and wine “for he was the priest of the most high God” (Gen. 14:18). He is the type of the high priest in the New Testament, Jesus Christ. “Thou art the priest, forever, according to the order of Melchisedech” (Heb. 5:6). Melchisedech’s offering of bread and wine is a type of the only sacrifice in the New Testament, the Holy Eucharist.

Turning to your left, the window closest to you depicts the priesthood, instituted by Christ, coming to us through the apostles and their successors, the bishops. In the window, the priesthood of the New Testament is represented by St. Pius X because he promoted daily communion and the early communion of children. This achievement is depicted in the scene in the lower part of the windows: a priest distributing Holy Communion to young children. Also shown is a musical scroll recalling St. Pius X’s reform of Church music. Also shown is his coat of arms. The monstrance again characterizes him as the Pope of the Holy Eucharist.

The final window on our tour, next to that of St. Pius X, is of Christ, the High Priest. Christ, clad in the priestly garments of the alb, stole and chasuble, is the high priest as well as the sacrifice. He has been sent by the Father, symbolized by the hand (Manus Dei in upper left), to redeem mankind. Before his passion and his death on the cross, he instituted the Holy Eucharist, represented by the wheat and grapes from which the Eucharistic offerings of bread and wine are prepared. On the cross Christ becomes the victim, the lamb who has been slain (Lamb of God in lower section). The universality on earth is symbolized by a number of different styles of architecture representing the nations and the races. All four of these sanctuary windows represent the Sacrament of the Eucharist, the sacrifice taking place in Roman Catholic Churches all over the world.

These two windows, in a series of four found in the sanctuary, depict the priesthood. To the right depicts Noah after the great flood. Noah has built a stone altar and is worshipping God and imploring divine protection against further disaster. To the left, the window shows Melchisedech, the King of Salem, who went out to meet Abraham and his soldiers. Melchisedech is offering bread and wine ‘for he was the priest of the most high God” (Gen. 14:18)

Materials for this booklet was gathered in part from The Conrad Pickel Studio, an article done on the windows for THE PROVINCIAL CHRONICLE by Rev. Dunstan Schmidlin and information from various articles done for the dedication of the Cathedral by Octavia Fellin. Important information was used from a booklet written about the Cathedral by Rev. Dacian Batt, O.F.M. We thank all whose information on the windows helped to give background to this booklet.


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