The Rose Windows
The Rose window is first, of course, a means of transmitting light but also of transforming it from worldly exterior light to celestial interior light. Its form, redolent with meaning. It is a circle, which has no beginning or end – like God, infinite. The window stands for cycles – the seasons, decades, centuries and millennia – of life, death and rebirth. It is a disk representing the sun, the source of light and life- God. It is a wheel – when the perimeter rotates about a constant center as God is the immutable center of everything and the planets, universe, galaxies spin about. Lastly, of course, it is a rose symbolizing completion, consummate achievement, perfection, nurturing and sacrifice – the Virgin Mary.
As Monsignor Harte has written, the Shrine’s Rose Window illustrates the saying of Jesus, "I am the vine and you are the branches." At the center is a crown interwoven with fruit-bearing vines. The crown represents God the Father. The vines stretch out throughout the entire window and are heavy with ripe fruit. All gifts come from God, and we are God’s workers in the vineyard. Indeed we are the branches of the fruit-bearing vine.
The fruits are the gifts the greatest of which is the possibility of eternal life in heaven – the redemption.
The redemption is reenacted in the transformation of bread and wine at mass. Wine is from grapes, grapes are a gift of God, the Son was a gift from God and the suggestion of all this is the symbols of the Rose window echo the fact of the transubstantiation that takes place at the other end of the Church during mass.
At entry where heaven and earth meet is a full statement of redemption – God, the sacrifice of His Son – the greatest gift for humanity – stated visually in the legible writing of the crown, the grapes, the vine, the circle and the almond pattern of intersection curves, in red, purple, green and blue – each with layers of meaning- echoing, preparing us for the miracle that takes place at the altar at the other end of the ensemble.