May 26, 2016
In the planning stages of the recent renovation, questions were raised on how we, as a parish, could better identify and understand our patron, St. Wenceslaus. Certainly, the community knows the good people of Czech heritage founded our parish, but how could we educate our parish and guests about Wenceslaus?
In March 2014, the Church of St. Wenceslaus embarked on our centennial renewal renovation project that was revealed to the community at the Jan. 17, 2015 re-dedication Mass. Although the bulk of the work was done, a few highly anticipated projects took a little more time to come to fruition and recently those projects were successfully completed.
Among those projects, was the idea to design the gathering space to welcome our guests not only into the life of our parish, but also into the life of St. Wenceslaus. Artist Craig Gallager of St. Michael, Minn., worked closely with Msgr. Schumacher to design a series of murals highlighting the life of Wenceslaus.
Murals tell saint’s story
The first mural was inspired by a statue on the Charles Bridge in Prague and depicts Wenceslaus with his Grandmother Ludmilla, who was responsible for teaching Wenceslaus the faith. Next is a mural inspired by the lyrics of the Christmas carol, “Good King Wenceslaus.” It depicts Wenceslaus carrying supplies to the poor on the Feast of St. Stephen. People called him “Good King” because he gave alms, was just to both the rich and the poor, visited prisoners, and improved the education of his people.
The third mural depicts Radislav, chieftain of a nearby German area, giving his allegiance to Wenceslaus after he had a vision of an angel of God protecting Wenceslaus. Radislav said, “I can fight the man, but not the God who takes his side!” And finally, the last mural depicts St. Wenceslaus’ martyrdom at the hands of his own brother, Boleslaus the Cruel, and his followers, on Wenceslaus’ way to Mass to celebrate the Feast of Sts. Cosmas and Damian in the year 929. Wenceslaus was 22 years old. A fifth mural, the first completed, is on the ceiling of the church’s nave and depicts St. Wenceslaus being welcomed into heaven from the steps of the church of his martyrdom.
As people walk into the parish of St. Wenceslaus to receive God’s grace and mercy through the Holy Mass and other sacraments, these murals serve to remind everyone of the life of St. Wenceslaus, to whom we can look to model our lives because his life pointed others to Christ. The Catholic Church, in her great wisdom, offers us the saints as inspiration to live our lives in a manner that we, through God’s great mercy and forgiveness, when we die, may hope for eternal life in the communion of saints, forever worshipping our Lord.
These murals complement the other artistic elements in the church, which encourage us to contemplate Christ and his Church. Architecture and art have been used by the Catholic Church throughout the ages to teach and instruct the faithful as well as create worship spaces that glorify God, the giver of all that we have; we honor Him by honoring His house.
Following the recent installation of marble wainscoting throughout the church’s nave and a stained glass window of the patron in the sacristy, the St. Wenceslaus project is now complete. The project is also award winning. On April 19, Creative Edge Master Shop of Fairfield, Iowa, accepted the award for Commercial Stone Design at the 2016 Coverings Installation & Design (CID) Awards for the stunning marble floor medallion project. Coverings, the largest global tile and stone exhibition in North America, celebrates the finest expertise in craftsmanship, creativity and innovative use of materials in tile and stone projects. This year’s CID Awards were presented at the Coverings Global Tile and Stone Experience Expo in Chicago.