Decorative Elements

Information on this page written and/or compiled by the Art and Spiritual Tour Committee: Patty Skain, contact
photography by Dan Bernskoetter

Rosettes or Roses

There are several decorative elements that need to be mentioned. The first would be the rosettes that are present in several places in the church. They are on the narrow ceiling area above the nave windows.They are in the center of all the ceiling ribs in the barrel vaulted ceiling, they are at the ends of the cross beams on the large crucifix. They are on the tops of the Stations of the Cross and even below the columns of those Stations. Even the remains of the old pulley system (for the chandeliers) is painted to resemble the rosettes when viewed from directly below them. These rosettes or roses are a sign of Mary and our Parish’s dedication to Mary.

Five Wounds of Christ

The second element to notice is the five thorns above the arched windows, outlined in red. These five thorns represent the five wounds of Jesus. Traditionally these five wounds are; his two hands, his two feet and his side.

The devotion to and contemplation of the wounds of Jesus have been around for centuries. Saints who have suffered the stigmata, miraculous appearance of wounds on their bodies in the places of Jesus’ wounds, have often practiced this devotion and contemplation.

Interest in the devotion to the wounds of Jesus has grown in the last decades due to the visions and writings of Sr. Faustina. In the 1930 Sr. Faustina experienced visions of our Lord Jesus Christ. The Feast of Divine Mercy results from those visions and her writings.

For more information

Ave Maria Gratia Plena

Also to be noticed is the Latin phrase on the choir loft half-wall. “Ave Maria Gratia Plena” or Hail Mary Full of Grace. Again this phrase, from the Annunciation narrative in the Gospel of Luke shows the dedication of Immaculate Conception to Mary, our Mother and the place of honor that we give her.



Another decorative element incorporated in the last renovation in 2000 was the use of the fleur-de-lis. The fleur-de-lis is a stylized lily (in French, fleur means flower, and lis means lily) or iris that is used as a decorative design or symbol. It may be "at one and the same time, religious, political, dynastic, artistic, emblematic, and symbolic", especially in French heraldry. The fleur-de-lis is widely recognized as a symbol of kings, queens, and nobility. While the fleur-de-lis has appeared on countless European coat of arms and flags over the centuries, it is particularly associated with the French monarchy in an historical context, and continues to appear in the arms of the King of Spain and the Grand Duke of Luxembourg and members of the House of Bourbon. It remains an enduring symbol of France that appears on French postage stamps, although it has never been adopted officially by any of the French republics. According to French historian Georges Duby, the three petals represent the medieval social classes: those who worked, those who fought, and those who prayed. As you look around the interior of the church you see the fleur-de-lis used in the quatrefoil decorations, see the discussion below on the quatrefoil. You also see them used to make a type of Greek cross above the altar and the main archway. They are used on the lower corners down the side walls of the nave above the chair rail. They are also used in the painted frames around the medallions of Mary, in the decorative painting at the bottoms of the ceiling ribs and surrounding the rosettes in the ceiling. There is even an kind of fleur-de-lis design in the light fixtures in the nave of the church. And of course the most obvious example of the fleur-de-lis in our church is the wall painting in the votive candle niche flanking either side of the Mary of the Immaculate Conception statue. In the Middle Ages the symbols of lily and fleur-de-lis overlapped considerably in Christian religious art. Michel Pastoureau, the historian, says that until about 1300 they were found in depictions of Jesus, but gradually they took on Marian symbolism and were associated with the Song of Solomon's "lily among thorns" (lilium inter spinas), understood as a reference to Mary. Other scripture and religious literature in which the lily symbolizes purity and chastity also helped establish the flower as an iconographic attribute of the Virgin. It was also believed that the fleur-de-lis represented the Holy Trinity.

In medieval England, from the mid-12th century, a noblewoman's seal often showed the lady with a fleur-de-lis, drawing on the Marian connotations of "female virtue and spirituality". Images of Mary holding the flower first appeared in the 11th century on coins issued by cathedrals dedicated to her, and next on the seals of cathedral chapters starting with Notre Dame de Paris in 1146. A standard portrayal was of Mary carrying the flower in her right hand, just as she is shown in that church's Virgin of Paris statue (with lily), and in the centre of the stained glass rose window (with fleur-de-lis sceptre) above its main entrance. The flowers may be "simple fleurons, sometimes garden lilies, sometimes genuine heraldic fleurs-de-lis". As attributes of the Madonna, they are often seen in pictures of the Annunciation, notably in those of Sandro Botticelli and Filippo Lippi. Lippi also uses both flowers in other related contexts: for instance, in his Madonna in the Forest. The three petals of the heraldic design reflect a widespread association with the Holy Trinity, with the band on the bottom symbolizing Mary. The tradition says that without Mary you can not understand the Trinity since it was she who bore The Son.[35] A tradition going back to 14th century France] added onto the earlier belief that they also represented faith, wisdom and chivalry. "Flower of light" symbolism has sometimes been understood from the archaic variant fleur-de-luce (see Latin lux, luc- = "light"), but the Oxford English Dictionary suggests this arose from the spelling, not from the etymology. In this church where we participate in the sacrifice of our God, the King of the universe and honor Mary, his mother, how fitting it is that we use this kingly symbol.

(Information on the Fleur-de-lis from Wikipedia)


In art, architecture and traditional Christian symbolism, the quatrefoil is a type of decorative framework consisting of a symmetrical shape which forms the overall outline of four partially overlapping circles of the same diameter. The word quatrefoil means “four leaves”, from Latin quattuor, four, plus folium, a leaf.) and applies to general four-lobed shapes in various contexts. The quatrefoil enjoyed its peak popularity during the Gothic and Renaissance eras. It is most commonly found as tracery, mainly in Gothic architecture, where a quatrefoil can often be seen at the top of a Gothic arch, sometimes filled with stained glass.

There are several examples of the quatrefoil incorporated during the last renovation of 2013. The quatrefoil in Immaculate Conception is most appropriately called the barbed quatrefoil because of the fleur-de-lis that form the barb at the junctures of the circles. See the discussion on the fleur-de-lis above. The barbed quatrefoil is used on the vaulted ceiling in the sections between the ribs where there originally were additional medallions of the blessed mother. It is also used up in the front of the church on the ceiling above the Good Shepherd and Blessed Mother windows.

Barbed Quatrefoil

The barbed quatrefoil is a quatrefoil pierced at the angles by the points of an inscribed square,[2] which gives an image akin to an heraldic rose, which is termed "barbed" due to the stylized quatrefoil appears on the south transept buttresses of 1260 in the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris.[2] Similarly the trefoil is often combined with an equilateral triangle to form a barbed thorns (or in the case of our church, the fleur-de-lis) which project at the intersection of each pair of petals. The earliest example of the barbed trefoil. Among the most famous works of art employing the barbed quatrefoil are the bronze panels on the South Doors of the Baptistery in Florence (1330–6) by Andrea Pisano, the bronze panels of the North Doors of the Baptistery in Florence by Lorenzo Ghiberti, and also Filippo Brunelleschi's competition entry for the same doors, The Sacrifice of Isaac) as well as "Head of an Angel" by Piero della Francesca.

(Information on the Quatrefoil from Wikipedia)

Diamonds and Floral Elements

While it might be considered a minor detail, the use of diamonds in the stained glass windows, some of the plant stands, the doors of the sacristy, the reredos and the front side doors exiting the church also help to pull all the decorative aspects of the church together.

Similarly the use of floral design in the leafs in the stain glass windows, in the Stations of the Cross around the rosettes at the top and even in the light fixtures serve a similar purpose.

When we see these repeated designs, we may not recognize them or where we have seen them, but we will have an impression of cohesion in the design of our church.