Written by Joy Gregory, March 12
The new church won’t open until a few weeks after Easter Sunday, but parish priest Fr. Nathan Siray is already thinking about how one particular piece of sacred art will inspire everyone who enters Our Lady of the Rockies Catholic Church in Canmore.
The art is a stained-glass depiction of Mary and the Christ Child. Composed of 24 separate pieces, the window will be painstakingly assembled and then installed in early spring. The window shows Mary seated on a throne. While her gaze falls on those who observe the window, her hands support a young Jesus, who leans against his mother’s legs while also looking outward at the world.
Designated as the Calgary Catholic Diocese’s first “shrine church,” Our Lady of the Rockies will be consecrated in early May. As a shrine church, it offers local and visiting Catholics a holy place of pilgrimage. Catholics from near and far are expected to visit Our Lady of the Rockies to draw closer to God and to develop a stronger spiritual connection to Our Lady.
As such, the window is destined to be a defining feature of the new church, says Fr. Siray. While he appreciates the window’s beauty, the parish priest also likes how the art “depicts Mary as both queen and mother. That’s important as Mary looks other-worldly and regal, but the window also shows her with Jesus. The picture is symbolic of her roots in heaven and on earth. We so often speak of her as the Mother of God, but she was also a follower of Christ, a disciple.”
Visitors familiar with the Canmore location in the first range of the Rocky Mountains are also likely to recognize the Three Sisters Mountain range in the background of the new stained-glass window. Long-time parishioners told Fr. Siray that Catholics in the region have historically associated the Three Sisters with the three greatest theological virtues of faith, hope and charity. This artistic connection between Mary and a symbolic manifestation of the theological virtues “is ideal, since Our Lady, the greatest of all disciples, lived the virtues so well—and so can each of us,” says Fr. Siray.
When complete, Our Lady of the Rockies will hold about 430 people, with room for another 100 in the narthex. Fr. Siray expects that the stained-glass window, which was built in Atlanta, Georgia, will be installed by April.
To receive regular updates from Fr. Nathan on the building of the Shrine Church, please follow Our Lady of the Rockies Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/ourladyrocks/
Writen by Joy Gregory for Faithfully
Photos courtesy of Fr. Nathan Siray
Catholic Pastoral Centre Staff and Guest Writers