The mysteries in glass

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The mysteries of the rosary have come to life at Holy Trinity Church in Gainesville, thanks to the recent completion of 20 stained-glass windows depicting the glorious, joyful, sorrowful and luminous mysteries.

An ongoing project since the new church's dedication in 2008, the windows were commissioned by Dixon Studios, a Staunton-based business that has been producing liturgical art for area parishes for more than two decades. Over the course of three years, windows were added every few months. The final two windows were installed last month.

"Each (window) is unique and hand done," said Father Francis J. Peffley, pastor. "Every one is an original artwork."

The windows were designed and painted by Ronald Neill Dixon, who also has done work for St. Ann in Arlington, Christ the Redeemer in Sterling, St. Louis in Alexandria, St. John the Evangelist in Warrenton, All Saints in Manassas and Queen of Apostles in Alexandria. He learned how to make stained glass as a student at the University of Ulster in Ireland.

His wife, Annie, believes strongly in the power of liturgical art.

"I think it speaks directly to the soul," she said. "The Catholic Church has a long history of beauty and symbolism. It's wonderful to have a place in a community that is so beautiful and different from daily life. It gives us something to aspire to, something to believe in."

Father Peffley hopes the new windows will both inspire and educate parishioners. He believes the church is meant to serve as "a living catechism," in which churchgoers can learn about the Faith with the help of architecture, sacramentals, Stations of the Cross, statues and stained glass.

"(Liturgical art) is supposed to enlighten and educate the mind, and inspire us to know and love God all the more," Father Peffley said.

The luminous mysteries rarely are depicted in churches since they were instituted by Pope John Paul II only nine years ago. Father Peffley hopes the windows will help churchgoers as they pray the rosary.

"They can come into the church and meditate on each of these events, praying the rosary and walking from window to window," Father Peffley said. "That could foster a devotion to our Blessed Mother, since meditation is the heart of the rosary."

In May, the parish will publish a booklet featuring rosary meditations and color photos of the windows. The booklet will be available through the parish bookstore.

"Prayer is the most powerful weapon against evil," Father Peffley said. "The rosary is such a strong prayer. It contains important prayers and gets us to meditate on the inspired word of God. It's a very powerful way to pray."

On the web

Dixonstudio.com

For information on how to pray the rosary, click here.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2011