Slideshow of Statues

Rip Caswell interview

Statue Sculpting Process

Devotional Area

Devotional Areas

Exit the sanctuary and walk toward the center so you are standing underneath the dome. At this important juncture another theme in the cathedral enters into place: the interplay between the statues of Mary and Joseph in the west transept and the large crucifix in the east transept. Rip Caswell, a well-known artist who resides in Oregon, created both sculptures.

Stained Glass Windows

As you look around our cathedral, you cannot help but notice that you are surrounded by beautiful stained glass windows. These stained glass windows were designed by the Franz Mayer Company of Munich, Germany. Mayer was one of the most famous stained glass designers of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Our windows were installed in 1927.

Our stained glass windows depict two of the sets of the mysteries of the Rosary. The Rosary is a prayer that reminds us of the life, death, and resurrection of our Lord. It is a meditative prayer intended to allow Christians to meditate upon the mysteries of Jesus contained in sacred scripture.

The windows on the left side (east) depict the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary. Beginning on the south side (nearest the altar) they are: The Annunciation, the Visitation, the Birth of Jesus, the Presentation, and the Finding of Jesus in the Temple. The windows on the right side (west) are the Glorious Mysteries of the Rosary. Beginning at the front doors of the cathedral (northwest corner) they are: The Resurrection of Jesus, the Ascension of Jesus into Heaven, the Descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin into Heaven and the Coronation of Mary as Queen of Heaven.

Paschal Mystery Shrine

In the east transept (viewer’s left, facing the altar), you come to the Paschal Mystery Shrine, one of the two major devotional shrines in the cathedral. Jesus Christ crucified is the central figure of this shrine area. This sculpture depicts Jesus lifted up by his love for sinful humanity on the cross (see John 12:32). Interesting facts:

  • The statue of Jesus is 7-feet, 6-inches tall and weighs 500 pounds. The cross is about 13 1/2 by 9 feet.
  • The back of the cross is fiberglass formed to make it look as if the cross where a rough-cut log.
  • Two steel beams in the form of a cross are in the middle of the fiberglass and wood to support the bronze corpus of Jesus. The front of the cross for the crucifixion scene is made of wood shipped from Israel.
  • The stones at the base of the crucifix taken from the Jordan River. The 12 stones were shipped from Israel to represent the 12 tribes, 12 apostles, and other Biblical images.
  • The statue was brought here by the artist on a trailer behind his diesel-powered pickup from Mt. Angel Abbey in St. Benedict, Ore. over the Rocky Mountains to the plains of the Midwest to deliver the art to the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception.

The passion and death of Christ portray the horror of sin and its effects; this is the just punishment for offending God in sin. It also portrays divine love, which is the only explanation for God humbling himself to become man and to suffer the punishment due to sin.

But the work of redeeming humanity did not end with the passion and death of Jesus; rather, it is completed by his resurrection from the dead.  St. Paul highlighted the importance of the resurrection: “if Christ has not been raised, your faith is in vain; you are still in your sins” (1 Corinthians 15:17). The victory of Jesus over sin and death by his resurrection is captured by the mural behind the crucifix: light dispelling the darkness.

As you look at the crucifix, notice three subtle details. The wood of the cross is made from pine from Israel. Now, look down to notice the stones at the base of the crucifix taken from the Jordan River. Finally, look at the nameplate that hangs on the top of the cross. It is inspired by the nameplate believed to be placed on Jesus’ cross.

The Titulus is the sign over Jesus stating, "Jesus the Nazorean, the King of the Jews" [John 19:19]. The nameplate that hangs on the top of the cross was inspired by the nameplate believed to be placed on Jesus’ cross. St. John testifies in his Gospel that the original nameplate was inscribed in three languages Aramaic, Latin and Greek [see John 19:20].  It is inscribed on one side with first line in Aramaic and reversed script. The second line is written in Greek letters and reversed script, the third in Latin letters, also with reversed script. The original nameplate can be found in the church of Santa Croce in Gerusalemme [Holy Cross in Jerusalem] in Rome.

The seven stars in the mural refer to the seven churches in the book of Revelation [1:4]. The seven stars can be found in three places in our cathedral's art: the murals above the baptismal font, in the dome and in the resurrection mural in the Paschal Mystery Shrine.

The passion and death of Christ portray the horror of sin and its effects; this is the just punishment for offending God in sin. It also portrays divine love, which is the only explanation for God humbling himself to become man and to suffer the punishment due to sin.

The events of the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus are all together referred to as the paschal mystery [a word derived from Passover, celebrating the deliverance of the Israelites from slavery in Egypt].

The mystery and this shrine area speaks to all men and women: Jesus identifies with our experience of suffering; we in our turn can identify with Jesus and join our sufferings to his, making up for what is lacking for the benefit of others [see Colossians 1:24]; suffering and death is not futile or final, rather as Jesus was victorious so shall we be.

Mary Shrine

As you look toward the west transept (viewer’s right, facing the altar), you see the Mary shrine containing a sculpture of the Holy Family, and images of Our Lady of Guadalupe and Our Lady of La Vang. The Blessed Virgin Mary is the central figure in this shrine area.

The Blessed Virgin Mary is the central figure in this shrine area.  Saint Joseph is part of the sculpture, but he stands behind Mary to express his role as spouse of the Virgin and guardian of the Redeemer, Jesus.  Mary is depicted as being pregnant with her child Jesus.  As this shrine portrays the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, it can be said to honor marriage and family life as well.

The sculpture depicts Mary as gazing and ever so gently pointing across the main body of the cathedral to the east transept, to the Paschal Mystery shrine. This, even as devotion brings people to Mary, looking to her example and asking her for prayers, Mary will always direct people to her Son Jesus, to know, love and serve him.

The salvation won by the Paschal Mystery of Christ is central to the Catholic Faith, but it was prepared for first of all by Mary’s Immaculate Conception in her mother’s womb: the sinless mother of the Savior from sin.  And it was also prepared for by the virginal conception of Jesus in Mary’s womb: God became man, like humans in all ways except sin, so that his flesh could be nailed to the Cross and his blood poured out to save from sin and death.

There are other rich, but subtle symbols contained in the statue such as the serpent under Mary’s feet referencing Genesis 3:15, the seven lilies of the valley flowers (also known as Our Lady of Tears flowers) anticipating the seven sorrows of Mary.

St. Joseph is part of the sculpture, but he stands behind Mary to express his role as spouse of the Virgin and guardian of the Redeemer, Jesus. Mary is depicted as being pregnant with her child Jesus. As this shrine portrays the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, it can be said to honor marriage and family life as well. Look closely at St. Joseph’s arm holding the carpenters tool. It might look familiar as it is inspired by Michelangelo’s statue David in Florence. This subtle detail reminds us that St. Joseph was a “son of David” (Matthew 1:20).  Notice the three nails in Joseph’s pocket.  They remind us of the nails used to nail Jesus to the cross.

In addition to this sculpture, this shrine area has two other images of Mary: one depicting her as Our Lady of Guadalupe, who is honored as Queen of Mexico and Patroness of the Americas, reflecting the Hispanic presence in the Diocese of Wichita; the other depicting her as Our Lady of La Vang, who is honored in Vietnam, reflecting the Vietnamese presence in the diocese.

Dome

Go back to the center and look up into the dome. Inside the high central dome is depicted God the Father, shown with arms outstretched in a gesture of welcome and blessing. It is fitting that this significant space be filled with an image of God the Father, for when Catholics pray and worship, especially at Holy Mass, they usually pray to the Father, through Christ, in the Holy Spirit.

The seven stars in the mural refer to the seven churches in the book of Revelation [1:4]. The seven stars can be found in three places in our cathedral's art: the murals above the baptismal font, in the dome and in the resurrection mural in the Paschal Mystery Shrine.


Inlay beneath the Dome

  1. The cross of course is central to who we are as disciples, but it is made up of acanthus leaves which brings in the resurrection. We have acanthus leaves all over the place in the architecture and windows. The cross pulls together the dying and rising to new life of baptism and the sacrifice of the altar [our north-south axis].
  2. The lilies on the arms of the cross are symbols of Mary reaching out to the two transepts in the cathedral, tying those moments together [our east-west axis].
  3. There is a suggestion of interlocking hearts which calls to mind covenant and resonates with the image of God the Father. This includes God's covenant with us and the covenant of marriage.
  4. The vine is an image of fruitfulness ["Be fruitful and multiply"]. The vine reaches beyond the heart shapes which is what we are supposed to do as we take gospel message out of this space and into the world.

 

Pendentives

Directly beneath the high central dome, at the top of the pillars holding up the dome, are depicted the four evangelists: St. Matthew, St. Mark, St. Luke, and St. John. It is appropriate to associate the evangelists with the four main pillars that support the dome of the cathedral. They are rightly regarded as pillars of the church because they committed to writing the witness of the Apostles about who Jesus is, what he taught, what he did, and what he asks of his followers. The four gospels preserve for people of every place and time the saving truths and life of holiness taught by the Lord Jesus.

The image of St. Matthew is purposefully positioned above the ambo because his gospel is known as the “Gospel of the Church.” It is the only gospel that contains the word “church” and it contains extensive instructions for the organization and life of the Church. The Catholic Church has traditionally cited St. Matthew’s Gospel in preaching and teaching.

Matthew Mark Luke John

Niches in Apse

On either side of the sanctuary, at the head of the ramps providing access, are two niches or recesses. Inspired by a mosaic in the church of Sant’Apollinare Nuovo in Ravenna, Italy, the niches are painted to depict a procession toward the altar of angels and saints, each bearing a gift, like wheat for bread or grapes for wine.

This is a lesson-without-words on stewardship: we are moved by gratitude to share in love of God and neighbor the gifts we recognize as received from God.

This is also a lesson-without-words on our celebration of Holy Mass: how the altar is the focal point of the assembly gathered for worship, and how what is done at the altar is a participation in the eternal liturgy of praise celebrated in heaven by the angels and saints.

And there is yet another lesson-without-words on the heart of our worship and of our practice of stewardship: how with Christ worshippers offer to the Father the gift of self, which is expressed by the tithe put in the collection basket, which is collectively symbolized by the bread and wine presented in the Offertory, which then at the Consecration become the Body and Blood of Christ, which in Holy Communion nourishes the life in Christ of those who receive, which in its turn is expressed by each one bearing a share of responsibility for the mission of the Church.

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Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception
430 N. Broadway St.
Wichita, KS 67202-2310

(316) 263-6574
parish@wichitacathedral.com

 

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