Magnificent stain glass window melted and smashed in fire

Sunbeams streaming through the stained glass windows of Sacred Heart would shower color on the interior of the church and the worshippers within.

Even the overcast skies of early spring would set the colors glowing and illuminate key scenes and figures of the Christian faith.

Now these priceless tableaus are destroyed, melted by the June 9 fire which destroyed the church and smashed by the wrecker's ball which demolished the 130-year old landmark. Only slivers can be found in the wreckage.

In an earlier interview with the News and Forum before the fire, Sacred Heart's pastor explained the value of the now destroyed windows.

"The windows are a great teaching tool to communicate faith in a really wonderful way," said the Reverend Daniel Riley, pastor of the gothic revival-style church in Weymouth Landing. "They provide a lot of warmth and character and color to what is a beautiful church. And they are of tremendous artistic value."

Several of the 14 large windows on either side of the church nave depicted events from the Gospel accounts of the week leading up to Easter: Jesus praying in the garden of Gethsemane, the Crucifixion and the Resurrection.

"Words alone aren't enough," said Fr. Riley. "Even when people don't consciously think about these windows, they are subconsciously communicating the message. Music can do the same thing. All the arts help communicate the whole message of Christianity in a beautiful way."

The art of stained glass developed in the eleventh and twelfth centuries with the rise of gothic architecture, said Raymond DiBona, parish historian and president of the Archives Society. The high pointed arches created large openings for light to come in through the church windows.

"And what better thing to do with that space than to put in figures and stories from the Bible?" he said. Sacred Heart's stained glass windows were created by several different studios and installed over a period of about 30 years, whenever donors and funds were available, said DiBona. Only the two lancet windows over the high altar were of stained glass when the church was consecrated in 1872.

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