The Architectural Style
of St. Bernard Church is French Gothic. The cross atop the spire (fleche) covered with stainless steel, reaches 73 feet into the sky. The church is 122 feet in length, 45 feet wide at the nave and 59 feet wide at the sanctuary and sacristy area. The exterior walls are made of beautiful Indiana limestone. Vermont slate of variegated colors, widths and thicknesses were chosen for the roof. The cross on the south end of the roof is a Celtic Cross. St. Bernard Church has recently been renovated and given a beautiful new look. The walls are painted in muted taupe, beige and off-white. The pews were restored to a warm beautiful oak color and the Church seats approximately 340 people.
The Stained Glass Windows
are all made of genuine imported Antique Glass, a material which has been used for centuries in the making of fine stained glass throughout the world. These windows, designed by Erhard Stoettner, who received his training in Munich, were specifically made in 1953 for Saint Bernard Church by T.C. Esser Co., Millwaukee, Wisconsin and the original cost was $16,180.00.
Our Lord explained the truths of religion in symbols and the early Christians used this sign language. The Church, the great respecter of traditions, continues the use of the early Christian symbols as her universal language, and the story of the windows in St. Bernardís Church is that of the symbols wrought in them.
The sanctuary windows incorporate adoring angels, symbolic of a guard of honor to Our Lord in the tabernacle, the windows continue into the nave.
The windows on the west side of the church portray how, step by step, God brought about the great events which led to the establishment of the Church, His Kingdom on earth. They show how He made available the unending graces of the Redemption. Those on the east side show what we must do in order to avail ourselves of those unending graces. We must use the sacraments for they are the means which God has given us to save ourselves.
Beginning with Window Number 1 on the Holy Family side, nearest to the altar (Cass Street side) and ending with Window Number 20 on the Memorial Garden side, the windows depict:
|Cass Street Side||Memorial Garden Side|
|1.Creation - Life and Light||11. A Fountain symbolic of the Sacraments as a means of grace|
|2.The Fall of Man in Paradise||12. Sacrament of Baptism|
|3. Ark of the Covenant||13. Sacrament of Confirmation|
|4. The Ten Commandments||14. Sacrament of the Eucharist|
|5. The Blessed Trinity||15. Sacrament of Penance|
|6. I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life||16. Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick|
|7. The Redemption (Redemptive Christ)||17. Sacrament of Holy Orders|
|8. Triumphant or Victorious Christ||18. Sacrament of Marriage (Matrimony)|
|9. The Church||19. Union or Unity with Christ|
|10. The Authority of the Church||20. Eternal Life|
The Choir Window
brings the splendid array of stained glass in light, color and symbolism prevailing throughout the sanctuary and nave to its crowning glory in the massive architectural setting of the three-lancet window surmounted by a fine development in tracery dedicated to the Blessed Virgin as Mother of God and Patroness of our Country. Comparative to a rich oriental tapestry, alive in jewel-like colors, are incorporated figure medallions and symbols telling the ageless story of the joy and glory of the Virgin in the Annunciation, the Nativity, the Presentation of the Christ Child in the Temple, the Assumption, and the Coronation, highlighted in the upper section of the center lancet by a heroic figure of the Virgin as the Immaculate Conception which is surmounted by a descending dove symbolic of the Holy Spirit. In symbols, in the extreme lower sections, the Root of Jesse growing into a tree surmounted by crowns testifies to the noble heritage of the Virgin. In the center lancet a monogram incorporating a crown surmounts a shield representing the arms of the United States in a setting of lilies symbolizing the Blessed Virgin as patroness of our country. In honor of the patron of our church and in recognition of the devotion of Saint Bernard to the Blessed Virgin, a large symbol showing three Bishop's mitres resting on a book (symbolic of the three dioceses which had been offered to Saint Bernard and which he refused to accept) representing the arms of Saint Bernard, completes one of the finest stained glass windows in our diocese.
The Altars and marble in the church:
The mensa (altar stone)of the main altar and the reredos (the screen or decorated part of the wall behind the mensa) of the main altar are made of Chiampo Rosa marble. There is a platform of Rosso Levanto marble on which the main altar rests. The altars are supported by columns of Verdi Alpi and Rosso de Francia marble. The carvings of the grape vine in the front of the mensa and of wheat in the capitals of the columns are symbolic of the Holy Eucharist.
The tabernacle is constructed of repousse bronze in satin finish and is mechanically excellent.
The large crucifix employs a hand carved corpus, carved in Italy.
Relics of the martyrs are fixed in the altars:
~in the Main Altar, particles of the bones of Saint Donatus (He died before 660. Donatus, a monk of Luxeuil Abbey, became bishop of BesanÁon, France, in 624. Because of his zeal for monasticism, he founded Saint Paul's Abbey in his see. His Regula ad virgines combines elements of the Benedictine Rule with that of Saint Columbanus, the founder of Luxeuil.) and Saint Victoria
~in the Holy Family Altar, particles of the bones of Saint Felix and Saint Vincentia
~in the Sacred Heart Altar, particles of the bones of Saint Proper(us) of Aquitaine and Saint Leonidas. Prosper(us) was born in 403 AD and died after 467; a very learned man who helped Pope Leo the Great. St. Leonidas and seven women were martyred in 258 AD.
As members of this parish, this church is your spiritual home. From the cradle to the grave every great spiritual event of your lives is centered in and about it, making it sacred to you. It must, therefore, be a source of pride to you to understand the furnishings of your church. You are proud of the furnishings in your homes, so you should be proud of those in your church home, the home of God and all His children. They are significant of the mysteries which at all times fill Godís house. When you come here let the circle of the symbols of the Church remind you of what God has done for you and of what He wants you to do for yourself. Love your parish church. It is the dwelling place of God. It is your spiritual home.
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