The Singing Windows
Much of the beauty of the Cathedral can be enjoyed by the play of light from over fifty gem-like stained-glass windows. The windows, with much of the glass imported from England and Scotland, range in art designs from sixteenth-century originals to very contemporary styles. High in the clerestory, lighting the nave on each side, are eight vast windows called the "Singing Windows" -- this in honor of Saint Cecilia, the patron saint of music in the Roman Catholic Church. Created by Charles J. Connick of Boston, Massachusetts, these "Singing Windows" depict the great liturgical hymns of the Church year.
The first clerestory window from the altar on the north wall symbolizes Mary's hymn of praise to God for her part in the incarnation of Christ. The dominant theme is the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin to Saint Elizabeth. Above is the Christ child, suggesting much more than the Visitation--this figure symbolizing the Incarnation as the heart of the Magnificat. Attendant angels constitute the recurring motif of praise and prayer throughout the window in varying forms and colors. Text: Magnificat Amina Mae Dominum (My soul magnifies the Lord).
"Te Deum Laudamus"
The clerestory window nearest the altar on the south side is a hymn of thanksgiving. The seated figure of God the Father in majesty and splendor, bearing the orb surmounted by the cross, is surrounded by figures of the Old Testament, patriarchs and prophets, (distinguished by the broken rays of light rather than by halos) and the apostles and saints, representative of the glorious company of worshippers. Isaiah holds the traditional tongs and coal of fire; Jeremiah, the wand; Ezekiel, the turreted gateway; Saint Peter bears the keys; Saint Mark, the first bishop of Alexandria, the evangelical lion; and Evodius, the first bishop of Antioch, the great chalice. Attendant angels play harp=like musical instruments. Text: Te Deum Laudamus, Te Dominum Confitemur (We praise you, God. We believe in you, God.).
"Gloria in Excelsis Deo"
The second clerestory window from the altar on the north wall is dominated by the central figure of the Christ child amid the descending rays of the Star of Bethlehem. His arms are upraised in a gesture of praise of the Heavenly Father; the Father, symbolized by the traditional hand in blessing from the cloud. Beneath the thatched roof, suggesting Christ's humble birth, the figure of the shepherd and the king kneel before the Holy Child. Eight stars suggest the Beatitudes which Christ gave to mankind as the way of true Christian living. Angels of praise are represented at either side and other members of the angelic host kneel beside the scroll, which is inscribed with the text: Gloria in Excelsis Deo, Et in Terra Pax Hominibus Bonae Voluntatis (Glory to God in the Highest; and on earth, peace to men of goodwill.).
The third clerestory window from the altar on the north side has the Blessed Virgin, with hands extended toward figures, as the dominant character. The figures suggest the rank and file of the church militant. The crucifixion, with the three crosses, is represented at the left, balanced on the other side by the gates of Jerusalem, recalling the scene of our Lord's passion. The coronation of the Virgin above is suggested by the last few lines of the hymn, Victory's Crown in Mary's Hand. The accompanying angels further imply the heavenly attainment. The two larger angels at either side, hold hymnals and sing heavenly praises. The text from the hymn reads: Stabat Mater Dolorosa Juxta Crucem Lacrymosa Dum Penedbat Filius (At the cross her station keeping, stood the mournful mother weeping, close to Jesus to the last.).
The significant theme of the fourth clerestory window from the altar on the north side is symbolized through the triumphant risen Christ, bearing the cruciform banner of victory. A radiant angel on the left balances the composition. Sleeping soldiers complete the scene. Above is the Lamb of God, again with the cruciform banner. Angels with musical instruments of medieval type and other adoring members of the angelic choir complete the composition with the text: Victimae Paschali Laudes Immolent Christiani (To the Paschal Victim, let Christians offer a sacrifice of praise.).
"Veni Sancte Spiritus"
The fourth clerestory window from the altar on the south side represents the hymn to the Holy Spirit sung at Pentecost, asking the Holy Spirit to come and abide in the souls of all Christians. The window is symbolized by the dominant dove of the Holy Spirit, with emanating rays descending into the hearts of all the members of the church, clergy and laity alike, represented by figures of a pope, a nun, a priest, a father and mother, and their children. At either side are angels of praise and at the base is the text: Veni, Sancte Spiritus, Et Emitte Coelitus Lusic Taue Radium (Come Holy Spirit, come; fill the hearts of Your faithful with the fire of Your love.).
The second clerestory window from the sanctuary on the south, represents God in judgment, with symbols of the last judgment. The just are on His right and the condemned on His left, distinguished by significant color. The small figures of the just and the condemned suggest Lazarus and Dives. Above, the symbolic crowns of Victory and Doom are upright and reversed. The lily of purity flows at the center. The scales of justice form a significant symbol over the central panel. Angels bearing open books are at either side. The words from the hymn are below in the text: Dies Irae, Dies Illa, Solvet Saeclum in Favilla (Day of wrath, Day of mourning, See fulfilled the prophets warning.).
"Pange Lingua Gloriosi"
The third clerestory window from the altar on the south side is designed as a great symbol in color and light of the hymn composed by Saint Thomas for the Feast of Corpus Christi. Our Savior is presented as the great high priest, holding the monstrance to emphasize the fact that Christ still abides in the world through His real presence in the blessed sacrament. Kneeling are the comminicants, man and woman. At either side, attendant angels bear the lighted candles and, at the top, between kneeling angels, is the tree of the cross. Text: Pange Lingua Gloriosi Corposis Mysterium (Sing, my tongue, of the glorious mystery of how Christ conquered, when for us he came to die.).
The Ambulatory Windows
Within the ambulatories, or walkways, are stained glass windows, which invite one to stop for prayer or reflection. The windows were created by Charles J. Connick of Boston. These windows show the patron and founders of religious orders which sent missionaries into Nebraska and the Archdiocese of Omaha. Following these are the Archangels and Bishops.
Saint Francis of Assisi
The Franciscans are represented by Saint Francis of Assisi who appears with the birds. The medallions develop his story through his association with animals and his understanding of nature in general, and his reception of the stigmata.
The Columbans are represented by Saint Columban who appears in monastic cowl, holding a book and wearing the Irish satchel. The central medallion symbolizes the legend of his miraculous escape from the pack of wolves by standing motionless until they left him unharmed. In the lower medallion, he builds a monastery.
Saint Euphrasia Pelletier
The Good Shepherd nuns are represented by Saint Euphrasia Pelletier. The center composition symbolizes the departure of the first six Good Shepherd nuns for America. In the lower medallion she is shown on her knees writing her famous letter to Cardinal Odescalchi.
The Benedictines are represented by Saint Benedict who appears in the robes of his order, holding the abbot's mitre. The middle medallion shows him at work in the fields with his monks, cultivating the soil and cutting trees. In the lower medallion he is garbed as a hermit in a rough tunic made of sheepskin, when he lived in the cave in the side of the steep hill near Subiaco. The old monk, Romanus, directs him in his spiritual life and gives him food.
Saint Augustine of Hippo
The Augustinians are represented by Saint Augustine of Hippo shown in bishop's robes with his traditional symbol, the flaming heart pierced by two arrows, inscribed upon the book he holds. Below is a symbol of his conversion while seated under the fig tree, when he heard the child's voice crying "Tolle lege." In the lower medallion he is writing his famous defense of the faith, "Holiness of the Catholic Church."
The order of the Poor Clares is represented by Saint Clare, who is shown in the robes of her order, holding the ciborium, her characteristic symbol, as related in the lower medallion. The upper medallion symbolizes the young Saint Clare with her aunt Bianca and another companion, received by St. Francis of Assisi at the chapel of the Porziuncula, to vow herself to the service of Christ. In the lower medallion is a symbol of the significant incident when the soldiers of Frederick II preparing to assault Assisi, were confronted by Saint Clare who had risen from her sick bed. As she raised the Blessed Sacrament on high, the soldiers fell back dazzled, and took flight.
Saint Alphonsus Liguori
The Redemptorists are represented by Saint Alphonsus Liguori who stands in bishop's robes with pen and book to suggest the prolific writing. Below is symbolized the significant incident of the ray of light darting toward him from the picture of the Virgin while he preached. In the base medallion he toils in the fields as he did for thirteen years while Bishop of Saint Agatha of the Goths.
Saint Ignatius Loyola
The Jesuits are represented by Saint Ignatius Loyola as he holds the book inscribed with the sacred monogram distinctive of the Society of Jesus. The rosary is also in evidence. The central medallion symbolizes his vision of Our Lady and the Holy Child as he reads the life of Christ during his recovery from illness. In the lower medallion he writes the Rule of Society of Jesus.
Saint Madeleine Sophie Barat
The Sisters of the Sacred Heart are represented by Saint Madeleine Sophie Barat. In the middle medallion she is seen bidding farewell to Mother Duchesne and her companions as they depart for America. In the bottom medallion she is instructing children.
The Archangel Windows
Circled above the patron windows of Saint Francis and Saint Columban on the north side of the nave, is the window of Saint Raphael, the archangel, who is represented with the pilgrim staff, gourd and the fish, suggesting his aid to Tobias.
Also on the north, circled above the patron windows of Saint Benedict and Saint Augustine, is the window of Saint Michael, the archangel, who is represented in armor and surcoat, bearing the scales and flaming sword.
On the south side, circled above the patron windows of Saint Loyola and Saint Liguori, is the window of Saint Gabriel, archangel, who is represented in shining dalmatic, bearing the lily, the symbol of the Annunciation.
The Bishop Windows
Five windows in the cathedral depict the patron saints of the five prelates who inspired and directed the building of Saint Cecilia Cathedral. Four of these windows can be viewed as one enters the cathedral from the west.
To the right, leading up the steps to the choir loft, are windows with patron saints, Saint James the Greater and Saint Joseph -- these in honor of Most Reverend James H. Ryan, D.D. and Most Reverend Joseph F. Rummell, D.D.
To the left, windows of Saint Richard and Saint Jeremiah -- these in honor of Rt. Reverend Richard Scannell, D.D., and Most Reverend Jeremiah Harty, D.D.
The fifth window, shared by Saints Gerald and Thomas for the Most Reverend Gerald Thomas Bergan, D.D., can be found in the Bishop's sacristy.
The Marian Windows
Nine stained glass windows, very contemporary in design, are found with the Spanish Colonial Art. These nine windows are dedicated to the Virgin Mary and include the joyful and sorrowful mysteries of the rosary, Saint Dominic receiving the rosary, Our Lady of Lourdes, Fatima, Perpetual Help, and the Miraculous Medal.
~The Beauty of Thy House, 2005