The most beautiful thing now in Saint Mary’s Church is the Rood and the Rood Beam. The restoration of the Rood was something that I wanted to do as soon as I became pastor. When the renovation of seven years ago began, I suggested to Fr. Markey that we put in a rood beam. This was not something in his own plan, and I explained how the Rood and the Rood beam was often a part of a medieval Gothic church. It marked the entrance from the nave to the sanctuary: the entrance to the Holy of Holies, the entrance to Heaven itself, is only through the Crucifixion of our Lord Jesus Christ. And it was the common custom to include St. Mary and St. John on the Beam, for their participation in that unfathomable love of God, especially that of Mary, reminds us clearly as men and women not only how we were saved but also our obligation to love Christ and therefore each other in our own lives.
Due to the generosity of a family in the parish the Rood Beam became a part of the renovation. But the firm that carried out the renovation had no idea what it should look like. When it was put into place, my heart, and the hearts of those who understood what it should look like, sank. It has always been my goal to make the Rood look, as it should, with the coloring and details that one sees in the great church of the Gothic Revival in the 19th century, which carry the memory of the Medieval Roods.
We are blessed to have craftsmen in our parish who understand the importance and significance of religious art. When I spoke to them, it was like heart speaking to heart. The understanding was always there. The execution was up to them as artists. Thanks to one family I was able to begin and complete the project. It was a very generous gift. The statues and the Corpus had to be removed and painted in colors that are traditional. The Corpus now shows the Blood of Christ that paid our redemption. Mary and John have come alive with the colors associated with their vesture. The design of the Rood Beam itself, with those remarkable “plaques” of the Sacred Heart, the Immaculate Heart of Mary, the three Nails, the Chalice of St. John and the Fleur de Lys, all with exquisite gold leaf, the deep medieval colors, the decoration of the Beam: such beauty and all to the Glory of God!
Thank you Peter and your family. Thank you the many who gilded and painted. Thank you Rosario. Thank you Sandy and Kathy. Thank you Marty and Kathy. Thank you God for your love for us in the Cross of Jesus Christ that inspired this remarkable creation.
Father Richard Gennaro Cipolla