The Agony in the Garden
High on the walls of the nave of the church are the three lovely circular windows which depict the central drama of our Catholic faith: the suffering, death and resurrection of Our Lord, Jesus Christ. For these scenes, the artist has taken references from all four Gospels.
The first window to the left illustrates Christ’s agony in the Garden of Gethsemane on the night of his arrest. Heavenly light pours from a cloud onto His troubled face as, dressed in a robe of deep red over a white undergarment, He kneels in prayer on rocky ground. Christ gazes up at an angel with stars in his robe. The angel offers Him the cup of suffering (it resembles an old-fashioned chalice) which Christ has asked His Father to spare Him but which He accepts in accordance with the will of the Father and for all our sakes.
To the left, a thorn bush is seen, foretelling the crown of thorns the Roman soldiers, in cruel mockery of His kingship, would place upon His head. The greenery about the bush may indicate the life that would yet come from this painful death. Cypresses (whose long life makes them a symbol of eternity) and other plants complete the garden scene. Above distant hills, the nighttime sky, shaded from light to very dark blue (which contrasts beautifully with the light from above) is spangled with multi-colored points of light indicating the stars, and perhaps, the other planets.
Appropriately in the center we see Christ crucified, God’s supreme act of love, the consequence of our sins, of our failure to love, and the means by which God reconciles us to Himself and to each oilier. The body hangs from the cross in the traditional posture, arms extended, head sunken, nails in the hands and feet, a white loincloth about His waist, with the lance wound in His side. At the top is the traditional abbreviation of the sign Pilate ordered affixed: INRI (lesus Naxirenos Rex ludeorum–Jesus the Nazarene; King of the Jews). A stake anchors the cross in the earth while heavenly rays come down on Jesus. The cross, then, becomes our bridge from this world to the next.
His mother, in her traditional blue robe, stands grief stricken to His right while Mary of Magdala kneels at His feet bringing a white cloth around the cross (either preparatory to bringing down His body or to catch His precious blood). St. John in a red robe (with Mary and Jesus we again have the primary colors) is at His left, the only one looking at Him, perhaps reflecting on His commission to care for His mother (John 19:26).
Behind the scene we see Jerusalem and distant hills, the sky shaded from tan to purple to a deep red as darkness covers the whole land (Luke attributes it to a solar eclipse 23:44). A deeply reddened sun appears below Christ’s right hand and a darkened moon (with a crescent visible) below His left. (This depiction of the sun and moon is traditional. See the painted backdrop to our large crucifix to the right of the Joseph altar.) Facing this window, look up at the apse ceiling and you will see, directly in line with the center window, God the Father and God the Holy Spirit. Thus, with the figure of the crucified Christ, we have another representation of the Trinity similar to that in the window of Christ’s baptism.
To the right we see the Resurrection, and with it, Christ’s victory—which is our victory—over sin and death. He rises triumphant from an open tomb which lies before a cave-like opening behind it (the tomb is very stylized). Dressed in a red robe over a white garment (Not strictly scriptural. Matthew 28:3 has Him in white.), His right hand is raised to heaven while his left holds the traditional Christian banner signifying the victory of the cross and resurrection. To the left an angel kneels in adoration atop the cast-away stone cover. To the right, one guard has fallen to the ground covering his face (note the drape of his blue cape around his right arm) while another sentry holding a shield falls back in awe and terror at the sight (The scene generally follows Matthew). Above the hills, the sky is light blue shading to a smaller area of darker hue, indicating that it is morning. This is the only window which depicts the ground covered with vegetation which seems only fitting as all creation springs forth in the fullness of new life in the risen Lord.