The Rosary Windows
Looking down from the upper reaches of the Shrine Church are a series of 16 clerestory windows, bathing the area of assembly with a soft translucence while helping to focus the mind’s gaze on the Joyful, the Sorrowful and the Glorious Mysteries of the Rosary.
Each window is nearly seven feet in diameter and was crafted by the Judson Studios in Los Angeles, California and the Domus Dei Studio, Rome. A small figure praying the Rosary can be seen on the bottom of each window. The figures represent people who are connected in some way with the Rosary down through the ages.
The Creation Window
This window shows the mystery of creation and the separation of light and dark. Just as the Father began creation, He continues to be active in it. We acknowledge this in our contemplation of the Mysteries of the Rosary.
The Archangel Gabriel comes to the Blessed Virgin Mary as she prays. Gabriel has one hand raised in blessing and in the other a lily, the symbol of the Annunciation. The Blessed Virgin is rising from her position of prayer to accept the lily and blessing with one hand over her heart. The scroll on the left has the words "Ave gratia plena, Dominus Tecum." These are the greeting words of Gabriel and read in English: "Hail, full of Grace, the Lord is with you." The scroll to the right has the words of Mary’s acceptance “Ecce ancilla Domini,” meaning “Behold the handmaid of the Lord.” The kneeling figure below is Saint Dominic who preached the Rosary as a way to be closer to the Lord by the Graces of His Holy Mother.
The Blessed Virgin Mary and her cousin Elizabeth are shown as if about to embrace, with Elizabeth in a kneeling position greeting Mary. To the right of the window, the seven seals that contained information only known to God until the Lamb was found worthy to open the scrolls and look on the contents. To the left is the Chi Rho, which invokes the crucifixion of Jesus as well as symbolizing His status as the Christ. The kneeling figure below is Mother Teresa of Calcutta, who will be long remembered as a defender of the unborn.
The Blessed Virgin Mary and St. Joseph are shown with the baby Jesus in the manger. The figures are very simple and realistic to emphasize the fact of the Incarnation…that God has humbled Himself to become one of us, human. To the left is a unicorn which metaphors strength and to the right is the Christmas rose. The kneeling figure below is Saint Frances of Assisi who was strongly devoted to the Rosary and taught that the Crèche scene should be used in churches and homes to underline the meaning of the season.
In accordance to Jewish law because Jesus was a first-born son and therefore belonged to Yahweh, he had to be presented at the temple. Simeon holds the Christ Child and recognizes He is the Messiah and Savior. The right side of the window depicts the pair of doves that are to be sacrificed and to the left is a symbol for the Purification. The figure on the bottom is that of Saint John Neuman.
Finding in the Temple
The boy Jesus has His arm raised up as he explains and teaches the rabbis. Joseph has his hand on Jesus’s shoulder emphasizing relief that he and Mary have finally found Him in the temple after three days of searching. Scrolls to the right represent the Torah and the building to the left is the temple. The standing figure at the bottom of the window is Saint Rose of Lima.
Agony in the Garden
Jesus kneels alone in the Garden praying feverously to God His father. To the left are his disciples sleeping and to the right are guards. The standing figure is Saint Maria Goretti.
Scourging at the Pillar
Jesus is tied to the column, while two guards viciously lash at His back. To the left is the Crown of Thorns and to the right is the garment that Jesus was stripped of. The standing figure is Saint Vincent de Paul.
Crowning with Thorns
Jesus is seated, a scarlet drape thrown over His shoulders, a reed in His right hand, and a crown of thorns on His head. The figure below is that of Blessed Father Miguel Pro who was shot by a firing squad during a period of fierce anti-Catholic persecution in Mexico. He faced his executioners with his arms stretched out and a rosary in his hand.
Carrying of the Cross
Jesus carries the cross and is looking toward His mother. Her broken-hearted appearance pieces His own Divine heart. But those hearts, united in love and in acceptance of the Father’s will, speak silent words of consolation to each other. The other woman offers to wipe Christ face with a cloth. To the left is Veronica’s cloth and to the left is Golgotha, or also known as the place of the Skull. The figure at the bottom is St. Isaac Jogues.
The centurions nail Jesus to the cross. In the lower portion of the window is the sacrificial lamb. A chalice is represented on the right side of the window– the blood of Christ.
The tomb of Christ is open and Christ has rose from the dead. The centurions look away. To the right is Golgotha with the three crosses and to the left is the angel of the Lord who spoke to the women saying “ Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here He has been raised,” (Luke 24:5-6) The figure at the bottom is Saint Ignatius Loyola.
Mary is shown kneeling with three of the Apostles – Peter, James and John – on the Mount of Olives. They are awestruck below a turbulent sky into which Jesus as just ascended. To the left we see the archetype of the Ascension, Elijah, who is being taken to heaven in a fiery chariot. To the right is one of the oldest symbols of the Ascension – Jesus’s footprints on the top of the Mount of Olives with the clouds above. The figure kneeling at the bottom is that of Saint Bernadette of Lourdes.
The Coming of the Holy Spirit
At the top of the window is a descending dove, in the background there are seven tongues of fire – both represent the Gifts of the Holy Spirit upon the Blessed Mother and the Apostles. The figure at the bottom is Saint John Bosco, the Salesian, holding a model of the Salesian School in Tampa.
The Blessed Virgin is shown in the clouds being assumed into heaven. She is robed in blue of heavenly strength and white of purity. A nimbus shines behind her head to remind us of Saint John’s reference of the woman adorned with the sun in Revelations Chapter 12. To the left we see an early symbol of the Assumption, which is Mary’s tomb filled with white roses. On the right is the Morning Star, one of Mary’s attributes, above the rising sun. Below is the figure of Pope Pius XII in papal regalia and holding a scroll with the date 1950, representing the document in which he declares the Assumption of the Blessed Mother of God a doctrine of faith.
Our Lady is seated on a throne of clouds and is wearing a simple pale garment to represent her humility while she is being crowned by the Holy Trinity. In her hand is a scepter, which symbolizes the power given to her by God in her queenship, which is faith. On the top of the scepter is the fleur-de-lis, a symbol of the Holy Trinity which became manifest through her. Above her head, two hands hold a crown for the Father and Son as the Holy Spirit above the crown conveys His blessing. At the very bottom of the window we see the figure of Saint Louis de Monfort, who wrote many books about devotion to Mary, kneeling in total adoration of the Blessed Mother. To the right is a starry crown and the sacred monogram for MARIA. On the left is a scroll with the words: "Veni electa mea et ponam te in thronum meum," which translates from Latin as "Come my chosen one and I shall place you on my throne."