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The Altars of St. Marys

The High Altar

The scene at the top center of the high altar depicts the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, reflecting the patroness of St. Mary's Parish. Our Lady is pictured, shortly after the Annunciation, as she is greeted by her cousin Elizabeth who had herself recently miraculously conceived John the Baptist in her old age   (Luke 1:39-57). the Feast of the Visitation is celebrated on May 31.


As the viewer faces the high altar, the saint depicted on the left, with the wheel, is the early Christian martyr of the fourth century, Saint Catherine of Alexandria.  Her legend tells us that she was, at a young age, a Christian scholar who presented herself to the Roman Emperor Maximinus and successfully argued the truth of the Christian faith against his philosophers.  In fact, some of the pagan philosophers were themselves converted.  The emperor ordered Catherine imprisoned where, after visiting her, the Empress herself along with numerous guards were also converted to the Christian faith and subsequently martyred.  She was sentenced to death on a torture wheel, but the wheel miraculously broke at her touch.  She was finally beheaded, and it is piously believed that her body was carried by angels to Mount Sinai, where a still famous monastery was built to her honor.  More than a thousand years later, St. Joan of Arc said that St. Catherine appeared to her on several occasions.  Her feast is celebrated on November 25.


The saint depicted in the right of the high altar is Saint Rose of Lima, patroness of America.  She was born in Lima, Peru in 1586 and died in 1617.  She is usually depicted with a crown of roses.  Her feast is celebrated on August 23.


The Side Altars 

The side altars were supplied by E. Hackner Company of LaCross, Wisconsin in 1944 at a cost of $3,750.  the altars were blessed on December 17, 1944 by Abbot Ignatius Esser, OSB of Saint Meinard.


The side altar on the south side, to the right as the viewer faces the sanctuary, has a large representation of Saint Joseph.  There are, in addition, two smaller statues.  to the left is depicted Saint George (d.303).  A Roman soldier from Palestine, a martyr, and famous for his legendary killing of the dragon, he is depicted with a sword.  To the right is depicted Saint Cecelia (d. around 230), an early Christian martyr.  She is the patroness of church musicians based on the legend that she sang in praise of God in the midst of her martyrdom.  She is often depicted with organ pipes or some other musical instrument.


The side altar on the north side has a large representation of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.  the two smaller statues are Saint Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153) and Saint Gertrude the Great (1256-ca.1302).  Saint Bernard, a Doctor of the Church, was a Cistercian abbot, a learned theologian and spiritual writer as well as a fiery preacher.  The book and the quill represent his many works.  Saint Gertrude was a Cistercian mystic and early devotee of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, in a vision, exchanged His heart for hers: and this is often symbolized in various ways in her statues and images.

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