Information on this page written and/or compiled by the Art and Spiritual Tour Committee: Patty Skain, contact
photography by Dan Bernskoetter
Of prominent importance in Catholic Church interiors is the Crucifix. There should be a crucifix on or near the altar, clearly visible to all, in order for Mass to be celebrated.
Our crucifix, icons and other articles are examples of what we call sacramentals. According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, sacramentals are sacred signs instituted by the Church to prepare us to receive the fruit of the sacraments and to sanctify different circumstances of our lives (no. 1677).
Since the Catholic Church is where the sacrifice of the Mass takes place, the same sacrifice that took place on the cross, it is supremely appropriate that the Crucifix have a place of prominence in every Catholic Church. This is distinctly different from churches of other christian denominations where bare crosses are often depicted.
At Immaculate Conception, as with many Catholic churches, the large Crucifix is part of a grouping including the figures of the Virgin Mary and the Apostle John. Along with Mary Magdalen, they are the most prominent disciples mentioned by name in the Bible as being at the foot of the cross.
In older churches the Crucifix and even multiple statues were often part of what was called an altar screen or Reredos that covered the back wall of most of the sanctuary. The structure in the sanctuary at IC can be viewed as a more modern interpretation of the Reredos. Recently, the Tabernacle, containing the Body and Blood of Our Lord was moved from the right side arch and returned to the center of the church. It has become part of this modern Reredos. For more on the Tabernacle go to go to the Furnishings section of the website. The figure of Christ on the cross and the statues of Mary and John are from the original Reredos at IC and were restored and painted at the time of the renovation in 2000. The two statues in the front of church in the left and right arches are new to the parish and were installed in the renovation of 2013.
Our Lady of Grace
The statue on the left of the altar is that of Our Lady of Grace.
The most popular image of Our Lady of Grace shows the Blessed Virgin standing on a snake atop a globe with her arms open and held downward. This is the Virgin as she appeared as the Immaculata to Saint Catherine Laboure in the Chapel of the Rue du Bac, Paris in the year 1830. On November 27, the Virgin Mother showed St. Catherine the design of a medal which would remind people of the love and protection that Our Lady continually offers to God's children.
In the image Mary stands on a globe, the world. Around her feet a twisted serpent, the devil, struggles for mastery. It is conflict between good and evil. Satan’s is a world of darkness and disgrace; Mary’s is a world of light and grace. But hers is the victory won by Christ—the light of the world. So we see the light and grace of Christ flowing from her hands; and those who choose grace rather than darkness turn to her for help: “pray for us who have recourse to thee.”
The title Lady of Grace predates the vision of St. Catherine Laboure and is of French origin. The title corresponds to a previous miraculous image. The image represents mother and child in tender embrace (eleousa style), and is an icon of italo-byzantine origin which found its way from Rome to Cambrai, France in 1440. It is here that the icon received the title "Notre Dame de Grâce" and was and still is venerated as patroness of the city of Cambrai, also called "Cité-Notre Dame" (Town of Our Lady). Attributed to Saint Lucas, the icon of modest dimensions (35.7 cm x 25.7 cm) was crowned in 1894, and is annually carried in procession through the streets of Cambrai on the day before the Assumption (August 15). Our Lady of Grace has been witness to many historical events, such as the so called "Paix des Dames" 1529 which put an end to the war between France and Spain. The image/title of Our Lady of Grace is venerated in many countries throughout the world.
St. Joseph with the Child Jesus
In the in the side arch to the right of the altar is the statue of St. Joseph with the Child Jesus. This image of St. Joseph traditionally portrays St. Joseph as the guardian of the Holy Family and of the Christ Child in particular.
Matthew records four dreams in which Joseph is supernaturally instructed before and after the birth and early years of Jesus. In the first dream, an angel confirms to Joseph that Mary is with child, conceived by the Holy Spirit, that she will bear a son to be named Jesus. That He will save His people from their sins; and Joseph should therefore not be reluctant to marry her. In the second dream, an angel tells Joseph to take Mary and Jesus to Egypt (from Bethlehem) and remain until the angel instructs further because Herod is seeking to kill Jesus. In Joseph's third dream an angel instructs Joseph to return his family to Israel, implying that Herod is dead. However, Joseph hears that Herod's son Archelaus reigns over Judea and he is afraid to continue the journey. In the fourth dream, God Himself warns Joseph to avoid returning to Judea (Bethlehem.) Joseph settles Mary and Jesus in the region of Galilee in Nazareth.
These events, told in scripture, establish St. Joseph as the earthly protector of Mary and Jesus through the actions of God.
The Sacred Heart Of Jesus
The statue in the rear of the church on the right side is of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
Devotion to the Sacred Heart, as we know it, began about the year 1672. On repeated occasions, Jesus appeared to Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque, a Visitation nun, in France, and during these apparitions He explained to her the devotion to His Sacred Heart as He wanted people to practice it. He asked to be honored in the symbol of His Heart of flesh; he asked for acts of reparation, for frequent Communion, Communion on the First Friday of the month, and the keeping of the Holy Hour.
When the Catholic Church approved the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, she did not base her action only on the visions of Saint Margaret Mary. The Church approved the devotion on its own merits. There is only one Person in Jesus, and that Person was at the same time God and Man. His Heart, too, is Divine -- it is the Heart of God.
There are two things that must always be found together in the devotion to the Sacred Heart: Christ's Heart of flesh and Christ's love for us. True devotion to the Sacred Heart means devotion to the Divine Heart of Christ insofar as His Heart represents and recalls His love for us.
In honoring the Heart of Christ, our homage lingers on the Person of Jesus in the fullness of His love. This love of Christ for us was the moving force of all he did and suffered for us -- in Nazareth, on the Cross, in giving Himself in the Blessed Sacrament, in His teaching and healing, in His praying and working. When we speak of the Sacred Heart, we mean Jesus showing us His Heart, Jesus all love for us and all lovable.
Jesus Christ is the incarnation of God's infinite love. The Human Nature which the Son of God took upon Himself was filled with love and kindness that has never found an equal. He is the perfect model of love of God and neighbor.
Every day of His life was filled with repeated proofs of "Christ's love that surpasses all knowledge" (Eph 3:19). Jesus handed down for all time the fundamental feature of His character: "Take My yoke upon your shoulders and learn from Me, for I am meek and humble of Heart" (Mt 11:29). He invited all, refusing none, surprising friends and rivals by His unconditional generosity.
The meaning of love in the life of Jesus was especially evident in His sufferings. Out of love for His Father He willed to undergo the death of the Cross. "The world must know that I love the Father and do just as the Father has commanded Me" (Jn 14:31).
The love that Jesus bore toward us also urged Him to undergo the death of the Cross. At the Last Supper, He said, "There is no greater love than to lay down one's life for one's friends" (Jn 15:13)
The Heart of Jesus never ceases to love us in heaven. He sanctifies us through the Sacraments. These are inexhaustible fountains of grace and holiness which have their source in the boundless ocean of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
Much of the information following on St. Joseph and St. Ann from Wikipedia.
St. Ann with Mary as a Young Girl
St Ann (also known as Anne or Anna, from Hebrew Hannah, meaning "favor" or "grace") of David's house and line, was the mother of the Virgin Mary and grandmother of Jesus Christ, according to Christian tradition. Traditions about Mary's family, childhood, education, and eventual betrothal to Joseph developed very early in the history of the Church. The oldest and most influential source for these is the apocryphal Protevangelium of James, first written in Greek around the middle of the second Century.
Although St. Ann receives little attention in the Western church prior to the late 12th century, dedications to Anne in the Eastern church occur as early as the 6th century. In the Eastern Orthodox Churches and Eastern Catholic Churches, she is revered as Hanna. In the Eastern Orthodox tradition, Hanna, is ascribed the title Forbearer of God, and both the Birth of Mary and the Dedication of Mary to the Temple are celebrated as two of the Twelve Great Feasts.
The relics of St. Ann were brought from the Holy Land to Constantinople in 710 and were kept there in the church of St. Sophia as late as 1333. During the twelfth and thirteenth centuries returning crusaders and pilgrims from the East brought relics of St Ann to a number of churches, including most famously those in Apt, in Provence, Ghent and Chartres. St. Anne's relics have been traditionally preserved and venerated in the many cathedrals and monasteries dedicated to her name. Duren has been the main place of pilgrimage for St Ann since 1506 when Pope Julius II decreed that her relics should be kept there.
Mary of the Immaculate Conception
The statue of Mary in the rear niche with the votive candles is relatively new to Immaculate Conception and was installed in the renovations of 2013. This statue of Mary depicts her as the Immaculate Conception.
An Overview of The Doctrine
In the Constitution Ineffabilis Deus of 8 December, 1854, Pius IX pronounced and defined that the Blessed Virgin Mary "in the first instance of her conception, by a singular privilege and grace granted by God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ , the Saviour of the human race , was preserved exempt from all stain of original sin.""The Blessed Virgin Mary..."
The subject of this immunity from original sin is the person of Mary at the moment of the creation of hersoul and its infusion into her body."...in the first instance of her conception..."
The term conception does not mean the active or generative conception by her parents. Her body was formed in the womb of the mother, and the father had the usual share in its formation. The question does not concern the immaculateness of the generative activity of her parents. Neither does it concern the passive conception absolutely and simply ( conceptio seminis carnis, inchoata ), which, according to the order of nature, precedes the infusion of the rational soul. The person is truly conceived when the soul is created and infused into the body. Mary was preserved exempt from all stain of original sin at the first moment of her animation, and sanctifying grace was given to her before sin could have taken effect in her soul."...was preserved exempt from all stain of original sin..."
The formal active essence of original sin was not removed from her soul, as it is removed from others bybaptism ; it was excluded , it never was in her soul. Simultaneously with the exclusion of sin. The state of original sanctity, innocence, and justice, as opposed to original sin, was conferred upon her, by which gift every stain and fault, all depraved emotions, passions, and debilities, essentially pertaining to original sin, were excluded. But she was not made exempt from the temporal penalties of Adam -- from sorrow, bodily infirmities, and death."...by a singular privilege and grace granted by God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the human race."
The immunity from original sin was given to Mary by a singular exemption from a universal law through the same merits of Christ, by which other men are cleansed from sin by baptism. Mary needed the redeeming Saviour to obtain this exemption, and to be delivered from the universal necessity and debt ( debitum ) of being subject to original sin. The person of Mary, in consequence of her origin from Adam, should have been subject to sin, but, being the new Eve who was to be the mother of the new Adam, she was, by the eternal counsel of God and by the merits of Christ, withdrawn from the general law of original sin. Herredemption was the very masterpiece of Christ's redeeming wisdom. He is a greater redeemer who pays the debt that it may not be incurred than he who pays after it has fallen on the debtor.
Such is the meaning of the term "Immaculate Conception."
For a complete History of the Doctrine please go to this link.