Through the centuries, churches have been designed to wall in space and shut out light. From the starkest, most roughly-hewn gathering places to the stateliest landmark cathedrals of Old Europe, the intent has always been twofold: first, to create a uniquely Christian experience in which the spirit of community is embraced and, second, to encourage a mood of contemplation wherein the heart's own voice might rise quietly, reverentially.
For churches, the challenge was to bring in light from the outside without allowing distractions from this outside world to pour into their worship space. The sunlight that would be allowed in should not drench worshippers in its glaring brightness but rather this light should be a transformative light that would help to illumine the interiors of the church...and the soul.
In stained glass, they found their answer. For its inherent translucence and potential for fabrication allow glass to both capture and play with light. Given shape, color and images that unfold the story of Jesus Christ and His followers, this "art glass" works to stimulate the visual senses, stirring emotions that direct our thoughts inward, towards God. And by infusing worship space and worshippers alike with a heightened sense of purpose, stained glass windows compliment the liturgy.
It is a dynamic interplay of light and soul experienced personally and profoundly by succeeding generations of visitors here at the Basilica of the National Shrine of Mary, Queen of the Universe.