THE MURAL ABOVE THE ALTAR
This mural is by Carl Zimmerman and was painted on canvas and then attached to the wall. It depicts the missionary character of the Church. The central theme is the Ascension of Christ into Heaven. God the Father, the Holy Spirit, and Chorus of Angels are represented. Surrounding Christ are the eleven Apostles. They are: left, top to bottom, Andrew, Thomas, Bartholomew, Peter, and James the Greater; right, top to bottom, Jude, Philip, Matthew, Simon, John, and James the Less. Two men clothed in white stand nearby, suggesting to the Apostles that thei task of teaching all nations is about to begin. At the left St. Stephen, patron of our Church, and First Christian Martyr, is being stoned for his defense of Christ. Saul (later, St. Paul) clad in a blue garment, stands approving. On the right the conversion of Saul is depicted, as he is struck to the ground while on his way to Damascus to persecute the Christians. At the extreme left is St. Francis Xavier, missionary to India and patron of the Missions, carrying the banner of the propagation of the Faith. At the extreme right is St. Teresa, Carmelite nun and Patroness of the Missions. The green trees and shrubbery suggest the flowering of Christianity and the fruitfulness of the teaching of the Apostles.
THE STATIONS OF THE CROSS
The Stations of the Cross are the original paintings which were purchased in 1890 and are oil paintings by a Swiss artist by the name of Max Schmazel. We know they originally cost $390.00 which at the time was a considerable amount. They were rescued from the fire in 1922 and were returned to Switzerland for restoration and then placed in the new church.
THE WINDOWS IN THE CHURCH
The Transept Windows
These windows are in the Renaissance spirit, to harmonize with the style of the church. They have been kept light in color design so that the sanctuary will not be unduly darkened. Ruby, sapphire, and cool whites are the colors that predominate and they are further enriched with delicate gold ornamentation.
In the eastern window the window the symbols recall the Passion of Our Lord – the empty cross, spear, sponge on a reed, and the nails. An angelic figure bears the scourge and crown of thorns.
Symbols of the three Deacon Martyrs whose names are together in the litany have their places opposite, in the west window. These are the deacon’s dalmatic and stones for St. Stephen, gridiron for St. Lawrence, and millstone and raven for St. Vincent.
Above these symbols of their deaths an angel holds a palm and gold crown, traditional emblems of victory and reward.
The Nave Windows
The dedication of this church to St. Stephen, the First Christian Martyr, made it fitting to commemorate many early martyrs in the windows. Beginning with the window nearest the sanctuary on the Epistle side and continuing around the body of the church, the symbols reading from top to bottom in each window are as follows:
OUR LADY QUEEN OF MARTYRS. Monogram of MARIA woven together and crowned.
ST. PETER. Crossed keys, recalling Our Lord’s commission to him.
ST. PAUL. Book inscribed with the words, “Spiritus Gladius,” and a sword, because he was beheaded.
St. Andrew. Two fishes crossed, recalling his original occupation.
ST. JAMES THE GREATER. Three scallop shells (symbol of pilgrimage).
ST. JOHN. Chalice out of which crawls a serpent. According to tradition, early writers state that an attempt was made to slay St. John by giving him a poisoned chalice.
ST. THOMAS. Carpenter’s square and spear. He is said to have erected a church with his own hands and was killed with a spear.
ST. JAMES THE LESS. A mill. It is said by some that this saint suffered death between millstones.
ST. PHILIP. Slender cross and two loaves of bread, suggested by his remark when Our Lord fed the multitude.
ST. BARTHOLOMEW. Thought to have been flayed to death, hence three flaying knives.
ST. MATTHEW. Three purses, referring to his original calling.
ST. SIMON. Book upon which lies a fish.
ST. THADDAEUS (or JUDE) A Sailboat. He traveled to preach the Gospels.
ST. LINUS. Triple cross and fleeing demon. He was second pope. Triple cross refers to threefold mission of popes – priest, teacher, and shepherd. Fleeing demon signifies his victory over Satan.
ST. CLETUS. Papal tiara and Roman numeral III. He was the third pope and a convert of St. Peter.
ST. CLEMENT. Triple cross and anchor. He was drowned, weighted with an anchor.
ST. MATTHIAS. Symbol, an open book and double battle ax. He was beheaded for preaching the Gospels.
ST. BARNABAS. Opening words of St. Matthew’s Gospel (found with his body) and three stones. He was stoned to death.
ST. IGNATIUS. Heart inscribed with HIS (early abbreviation for Jesus) encircled with chains and lions, expressing his eagerness to meet the beasts in the arena.
ST. ALEXANDER. Nails and a stiletto. Instruments of his torture and martyrdom.
STS. MARCELLINUS AND PETER. Sword and chains, symbolizing evil spirit conquered.
ST. FELICITAS. Cauldron of oil and a sword. Instruments by which she was martyred.
ST. PERPETUA. Spiked ladder guarded by a dragon. Objects she saw in a dream which heralded her martyrdom. St. Perpetua died with St. Felicitas. Through their joint martyrdom, said St. Augustine, they purchased “perpetual felicity.”
ST. AGATHA. Shears and severed breasts. Concerns manner of torture which caused her martyrdom.
ST. LUCY. Lighted lamp (a play on her name in Latin: Lux, Lucis).
ST. AGNES. Lamb on book suggests the association of her name with the wool from which palliums are made.
ST. CECILIA. Harp, as patroness of sacred music.
ST. ANASTASIA. Posts and blazing fire. She was burned at the stake.
Angel holding palm and gold crown, emblems of victory and reward
Under the figure of the angel are the symbols of the manner of death of the three deacon martyrs whose names are together in the litany of the saints.
ST. STEPHEN Deacon’s dalmatic and stones.
ST. LAWRENCE Gridiron
ST. VINCENT Millstone and Raven
The symbols in this window recall the Passion of Our Lord.
The empty cross, the spear, the sponge on a reed, the nails, and the angel holding scourge and crown of thorns.