Windows for Mother Cabrini

St. Frances Xavier Cabrini Catholic Church
El Paso, Texas

Architect: Dennis Hyndman, AIA: Hyndman & Hyndman Architecture, Encinitas, CA

Altar: Creation and Resurrection
23.0' w by 16.5' h

Blessed Sacrament Chapel
2 @ 12.5' w by 14.2' h flanked by 2 @ 8.0' w by 12.5' h

Shrine of the Sacred Heart
8.0' w by 9.2' h flanked by 2 @ 4.7' w by 9.2' h

Our Lady of Guadalupe Shrine
8.0' w by 9.2' h flanked by 2 @ 4.7' w by 9.2' h

Cupola: Crown of Light
24 @ 3.0' w by 2.8' h

Entrance Rose: Nativity Star & Cross Rose
5.0' diameter

Narthex to Nave Doors & Descending Dove Rose
23.0' w by 9.5' h; Dove: 5.0' diameter

ASG first heard about a new place of worship at St. Frances Cabrini in 2004 at a liturgical conference in California where Jeff met Fr. Frank and parishioners. After years of prayer, patience and hard work by the entire parish, groundbreaking took place in 2014. The new worship space was dedicated during a glorious sunset on May 29, 2016!

Jeff also met Dennis Hyndman, AIA, of Hyndman & Hyndman Architecture (Encinitas, CA) at that same conference in 2004, but never imagined that years later Mother Cabrini would give him a chance to work with Hyndman & Hyndman right here in Texas. The Master Plan approach to the design of the stained glass allowed us to create the Windows for Mother Cabrini as a symphonic whole that is woven into the liturgy and architecture. Phase 2 is now complete and Phase 3 is under way.

The NATIVITY STAR & CROSS window is located in the Narthex above the Main Entry Doors. While not highly visible upon entering the Church, this window embraces departing worshipers in benediction with the two most important symbols of Christ’s life on earth: the Star that announced his birth and the Cross representing his return to his Holy Father. (Installation photos coming)

DESCENDING DOVE & NARTHEX-TO-NAVE DOORS & WINDOWS: These are interior windows. Their emphasis is on transparency and views through to Baptistry and Nave across to the Crucifix and Altar stained glass. With the Baptismal Pool just beyond, the Descending Dove Rose Window depicts the Holy Spirit. Its reflective white opal glass animates it in indirect light. The Nativity Star and Cross Window, Descending D0ve Window and Altar stained glass lie along the main building axis and trace Christ’s life on Earth from Birth to Baptism to Crucifixion and Resurrection.

Abstracted wings or feathers extend across the doors and sidelights. Because the Narthex also serves as Cry Room, vision through the stained glass at/below eye-level is crucial and the white glass gives way to clear, colorless glass. The “water” idea that connects all floor-level stained glass appropriately begins here at the Baptistry. Water also represents the oceans that Mother Cabrini crossed many times during her world-wide ministry. In west Texas water is a symbol of Life, both corporal and spiritual. Water also symbolizes the Rio Grande/Río Bravo del Norte and this parish’s commitment and outreach to her neighbors on both sides of the river.

CREATION & RESURRECTION (Altar Window): The Northwest-facing Altar Window serves as backdrop to Crucifix and Altar. Its design flows into the Blessed Sacrament Chapel and Choir Windows. Subtle white and amber opal glass symbolize the triumph of light over darkness. Much as the “waters” of the Holy Spirit and “oceans” traversed by Mother Cabrini will flow from the Narthex Doors and around the Nave, the “light” of God the Father and His Creation radiates outward, forming an aura around His ultimate gift and sacrifice in anticipation of the Resurrection. (The larger-than-life-size Crucifix was sculpted by John Collier, Dallas.)

THE BLESSED SACRAMENT CHAPEL’s stained glass enframes the Tabernacle like up-reaching hands. Each worshiper imbues the stained glass with their own personal meaning. While the opal glass echoes the “dove” and “angel wings” found elsewhere, there is also a profound sense of the miracle of the Eucharist. Or the white glass may be seen as the manna God provided during the wandering of the Israelites in the desert symbolizing God’s unexpected, undeserved gifts. The victory of light over darkness is underscored by the contrast between the bright central area of the window and darker color along its edges and in the adjacent side windows. The red glass is visible from the Nave and calls attention to the Sanctuary Lamp. (The chapel’s Gates and Sanctuary Lamp were created by Rick Findora, Lodi, Wisconsin.)

The design for the SHRINE OF THE SACRED HEART’s stained glass was originally intended simply as one of the four “gem-like” Shrines and Chapels that surround the Nave. Conceptually, the stained glass for all four Chapels/Shrines can be thought of as the blossoming of the “seeds” anticipated in the Narthex Clerestories (future phase). The rich red glass at the center of this composition seemed perfect for a “flower”. Before anyone at Mother Cabrini had seen this stained glass design, it was decided that this shrine would be the “Shrine of the Sacred Heart”. Amazingly there already was a Sacred Heart in the design! About all that needed adding was emphasis on the “rose” and the drop of blood symbolizing Mary’s quiet suffering.

The stained glass in OUR LADY OF GUADALUPE SHRINE serves as the backdrop for a traditional statue of Our Lady. The stained glass also provides a sense of separation and privacy within the shrine while blocking much of the harsh Chihuahuan Desert sun. The windows include symbols of the rich story of San Juan Diego and the Holy Mother’s appearances to him at the Hill of Tepeyac. A large central rose and smaller roses in the two side windows recall the miraculous winter roses that imprinted Juan Diego’s tilma with Our Lady’s holy image. Twelve Austrian lead-crystal prisms form a halo arching across the top of the window, above the sculpture. Amber tongues of flame complete the aura. The base of the sculpture is “cradled” above a crescent moon of opal glass. A severed, black snake (Satan) can be seen writhing along the bottom of all three windows as a reminder of the triumph of the grace of God and Mary over Evil.

If you glance upward in the Nave, you’ll spot the CUPOLA WINDOWS floating above the worship space. These bright windows are as much about light as they are about design. The bright amber glow they cast into the Nave is as important as their design. Opal amber and white glasses transform this ring of windows into the Prince of Peace’s CROWN OF LIGHT. Or does this circle of windows represent the first rays of a new dawn? Regardless of the meaning you find, the Cupola Windows, like the other stained glass, symbolize the victory of light over darkness.


Materials: Mouthblown European glass, Austrian lead-crystal prisms, lead, solder.