Bishop blesses chapel window depicting ‘angelic friar’

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Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted blesses the Fra Angelico window in the Diocesan Pastoral Center's chapel June 26.

Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted blesses the Fra Angelico window in the Diocesan Pastoral Center’s chapel June 26.

The latest stained glass window to be installed and blessed inside the chapel at the Diocesan Pastoral Center depicts another saint whose canonization St. John Paul II advanced. This time, the artwork portrays an artist.

Bishop Olmsted blessed the window depicting Fra Angelico June 26. The image of the 15th century Italian painter sits on the chapel’s south side and shows the Dominican friar painting a crucifix. Fra Angelico was a master of frescoes and always depicted something from Scripture, the bishop said. IMG_5658

His parents named him Guido de Pietro, but his life of extraordinary holiness and frequent portrayal of angels in his works led to a different name in death. “Fra Angelico,” means the “angelic friar.”

“Fra Angelico’s painting reminds us that we’re always surrounded by the angels. They’re always praying for us, supporting us, protecting us,” the bishop said during his homily.

Staff and visitors to the Diocesan Pastoral Center will notice an absence of angels in the window’s depiction, however. That’s to further convey the sense of abandonment Jesus felt on the cross, the bishop explained.

“So deeply was he caught up in the mystery he was painting,” the bishop said, that Fra Angelico wept as he painted scenes of the crucifixion, “And when he painted the Blessed Virgin Mary or the saints, he was raised up with great joy.”

It was a love for the faith, and the local church, especially, that moved Amanda Durand to underwrite the window’s cost. Durand, a Sun City Catholic, didn’t have a particular connection to Fra Angelico, but wanted to do something to honor her family’s Catholic history in the area while also helping finish the chapel.

Her grandparents met at St. Mary’s Catholic school, where the Diocesan Pastoral Center now sits and were married at St. Mary’s Basilica next door. Two other generations of family members, including Durand, said their vows in the same spot.

“I wanted to incorporate my entire family,” Durand said, describing the multiple names listed on the nameplate under the window.

A window depicting Blessed Junipero Serra, who St. John Paul II beatified a year after his visit to the Diocese of Phoenix, will be blessed July 1. Several members of the Valley’s Serra clubs sponsored it.

Catholic individuals and groups have sponsored 13 of the 14 windows that will ultimately line the lower walls of the chapel dedicated to St. John Paul II. Only the St. Rose Philippine Duchesne window remains available for sponsorship.

— Lindsay Wantland contributed to this story.

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