ST. PETER CHURCH*
A view of the Missouri State Capitol building, taken near the church.*
(Pictures courtesy of Mark Scott Abeln, St. Louis Photographer)
RENOVATION – 2002
The Story Behind It All
These were the values that guided the work of Liturgical Design Consultant, Tom Sater, and the Church Interior Committee in the renovation of our Church. It was important that these concepts blend with the gothic architecture and guide the décor chosen for the Church. Much time was spent in studying numerous photographs of the Church from various times in its history so that the artwork from these historic times could be incorporated into the present renovation.
In Western cultures, gothic is considered the most religious architectural style because of the ascendant structure, which draws one’s eyes toward heaven and encourages us to meditate on God and the things of God. This is expressed architecturally through the windows and pillars as well as through the colors that were chosen. Darker colors were selected for the ground level and gradually becoming lighter as it ascends towards the heavens. The colors chosen for the church décor were determined by the colors in the stained glass windows and the outside bricks and stone.
The two majestic tiers of fourteen pillars support the ceiling, dividing the church into three naves. The height of the center nave is 56 feet; the two side naves are 42 feet. The side nave “celestial” sky treatment with clouds and stars, harkens to the early Gothic desire to “Embrace the Heavens”. The center nave contains stenciling that reminds us of the five wounds of Christ. The red drop reminds us of the blood Christ shed for us. It is surrounded by the nails of the crucifixion.
The ceiling has a representation of the starry heavens.
The three reredos, which, in the past, were known as the main and side altars, are also gothic in style and dominate the interior. They are carved of white walnut (butternut) accented with rich gilt. When the reredos were removed for renovation, it was discovered that one side panel of the St. Joseph’s reredos was still the original butternut color. This is the color that was used in the present renovation of the reredos.
The main reredos is 49 feet high and contains a center statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. The two lower niches hold statues of St. Peter with the keys, the first pope and our patron, and St. Paul with the sword, Apostle to the Gentiles.
The side reredos are 24 feet in height. The shrine to the Blessed Mother contains statues of St. Agnes holding a lamb, patroness of virgins, and St. Rose of Lima holding the Christ Child, patroness of South America. On the opposite side is a statue of St. Joseph, foster father of Jesus, accompanied by one of St. Aloysius Gonzaga, holding a crucifix, patron of youth, and another of St. Francis de Sales, holding a book, patron of authors and the press.
During the removal of the reredos, the original stenciling was discovered. The designs consist of St. Mary’s monogram S/M with her symbol, the rose, on St. Joseph’s side his monogram S/J with his symbol, the lily. This is the 1883 stenciling that was reproduced as the current background for the reredos.
It was decided by the Committee to place a mural of The Divine Mercy on the face of the “Triumphal Arch”. This is the same location of a previous mural, which had deteriorated beyond repair and had to be removed during the 1982 renovation. That mural was thought to be of the Holy Family with angels hovering nearby. The primary focus of the present mural is the image of Jesus known as the “Divine Mercy”.
As revealed to Saint Faustina, it includes Jesus with his right hand raised in a blessing and his left hand pointing to his heart. Rays of red light radiate from the right side of his heart, while white rays flow from the left side. The red and white rays shine from his heart and illuminate the world. They remind us of the blood and water that flowed from His side when He gave His life to redeem us. Both the blood and the water symbolize the graces of the Holy Spirit, which were given to us as a result of Christ’s death.
The words “Jesus, I Trust in You” are always presented with this image, and here they flow across a banner, weaving among the rays, which appear to flow downwards toward the congregation.
The ten angels are surrounding Jesus adoringly, although some are looking mischievously toward the congregation below.
As the artist was looking for models for the angels, she noticed there were quite a variety of nationalities represented in St. Peter Parish. To better reflect the diversity of our parish and to symbolize our oneness in Christ, the angels’ faces represent children from various races and cultures including African, Asian, European, Filipino, Middle Eastern, and Native American/Mexican.
While some of the faces were based on individual parishioners, several of the faces are composites of two or more children’s faces. The artist wanted to capture the expressions of happy children to reveal the joy of the angels being in Jesus’ presence and trusting in the Lord Jesus Christ, a joy the Christian strives to emulate here on earth.
The feast of Divine Mercy was instituted in 2000 by Pope John Paul II, and is celebrated on the Second Sunday of Easter. The angels were a part of the previous mural. Incorporating the two images was seen as a way to blend a contemporary concept with our tradition.
Many members of the parish expressed the desire to have the parish’s large crucifix suspended over the altar. From a design standpoint, this seemed more feasible by moving the altar one pillar forward, a distance of fourteen feet. This also permits the presider to be in the immediate vicinity of 60 members of the assembly instead of 25, the number before the renovation.
Another important symbol for the parishioners was having the baldachin returned to its place above the pulpit. This was also accomplished during the renovation.
Lighting was evaluated and upgraded during the renovation. It was determined that a new sound system was also needed. New pews were determined to be a necessity as the old pews were constructed of fiberboard and had nearly reached their life expectancy of 20-25 years. The new pews are made of solid oak in a style consistent with the architecture, and will last a hundred years. The Stations of the Cross were also stripped down and repainted matching, as closely as possible, the original colors.
Above the door to the center vestibule are three Coats of Arms. The center one is the Coat of Arms of Most Rev. Joseph M. Marling, founding bishop of the Diocese of Jefferson City, with St. Peter Church as the first cathedral. On the right side is the Coat of Arms of Pope John Paul II. On the left side is the Coat of Arms of Most Rev. John R. Gaydos, bishop of the Diocese of Jefferson City.
When we come to church, we enter a realm where the past, present and future come together in a distinctive unity. This renovation embodied the Church’s concept of embracing both continuity and change, the ancient and the modern.
This is the “House of the Lord”, a prayerful environment of “Beauty, Mystery and Awe”, a holy space where the divine and the human meet. The building blends its special voice with the community of faithful in glorious and joyful praise of His Name. We recognize that the church is a living entity and we eagerly anticipate the many dynamic liturgies that we will celebrate together as a parish family.
The Church view from the sanctuary.
Photo courtesy of Bob Voss.
Our Church at Christmas
The Manger Scene
View of the Sanctuary from the choir loft.
Back Reredos at Easter
Main Altar at Easter
Mural in the front entry painted by artist, Barb Niekamp
who is also one of our parishioners.
Statue of the Agony in the Garden.
Statue of the Pieta
The Stations of the Cross were refinished
by parishioners, Mike and Jim Prenger.
Each Station weighs approximately
In the narthex, Saint Peter receives the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven (Matthew 16:19).
A stained glass window of a bishop’s mitre, 1983.
Aerial View of St. Peter's Parish from the Capital.
Parish Life Center is on the left of the Church.
Selinger Center is on the right of the Church.
The School is in the back of the Church.
Our Adoration Chapel
Open 24 hours a day
PETER: SCHOOL OF FAITH IS NOT A TRIUMPHAL MARCH
VATICAN CITY, MAY 24, 2006 (VIS) - In his general audience today, Benedict XVI continued his catechesis dedicated to the personality of the Apostles, focussing again on the figure of Peter. The audience was held in St. Peter's Square and attended by 35,000 people.
The Pope began by recalling the miracles of the loaves and the fishes, which Christ later interpreted "not in the sense of regality over Israeli, in the way the crowd had hoped, but in the sense of the giving of self. ... Jesus announced the cross, and with the cross the Eucharistic bread: His absolutely new way of being king."
"We can understand that these words of the Master, as all His behavior, were difficult for people to accept, even for the disciples," said the Holy Father. Peter's faith, he added, "was still a nascent faith, a developing faith. It would acquire true fullness only through his experience of the events of Easter. Yet it was already faith, open to a greater reality, above all because it was not faith in something, but faith in Someone: in Him, in Christ."
The Holy Father went on: "Nonetheless, Peter's impetuous generosity did not safeguard him from the risks of human weakness. ... The moment came in which even he gave in to fear and crumbled. He betrayed the Master. The school of faith is not a triumphal march but a road beset with suffering and with love, with trials and with faithfulness, to be renewed day after day.
"Peter, who had promised absolute faithfulness, knew the bitterness and humiliation of denial; the proud man learns the cost of humility at his own expense. ... When the mask finally fell and he understood the truth in his weak believing-sinner's heart, he burst into liberating tears of penance, after which he was ready for his mission."
One day, on the shores of Lake Tiberias, "that mission was entrusted to him by the Risen Jesus," as St. John recounts. The dialogue between Peter and Jesus, the Pope observed, "contains a very significant play of verbs. In Greek, the verb 'fileo' expresses the love of friendship, tender but not total, while the verb 'agapao' means unreserved, complete and unconditional love. The first time, Jesus asks Peter: 'Simon, do you love Me? (agapas-me?).'
"Prior to his experience of betrayal, the Apostle would certainly have replied: 'I love You (agapo-se).' Now that he has known the bitter sadness of infidelity, the drama of his own weakness, he simply says: 'Lord, I love you (filo-se),' in other words, 'I love you with my poor love.' ... Simon had understood that his poor love, the only one of which he was capable, was enough for Jesus. ... We could almost say that Jesus had adapted Himself to Peter, rather than Peter to Jesus."
Pope Benedict continued: "It was precisely this divine adaptation that gave hope to the disciple. ... From that day, Peter followed the Master with a specific awareness of his own frailty. But this knowledge did not discourage him; he knew he could count on the presence of the Risen One at his side."
He concluded: "From the ingenuous enthusiasm of the outset, passing through the painful experience of denial and the tears of conversion, Peter came to trust himself to the Jesus Who had adapted Himself to his own poor capacity to love. It was a long journey that made him a reliable witness, because constantly open to the action of the Spirit in Jesus. Peter would describe himself as 'a witness of the sufferings of Christ as well as a partaker in the glory that is to be revealed'."
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