The Deacon's Bench

The Deacon's Bench

Archbishop Wenski appears in restored cathedral’s new window

A new window in Orlando’s renovated cathedral is raising eyebrows:

When the renovated St. James Catholic Cathedral is dedicated here Saturday, the new stained-glass windows will feature a few familiar faces: Jesus Christ, the Virgin Mary — and Archbishop Thomas Wenski.


Wenski, dressed in his bishop’s red robes and gold miter headgear, is depicted kneeling at the foot of the Crucifix, opposite Roman soldiers and in front of Mary, his hands clasped in prayer and his head tilted upward toward Christ. The Wenski window measures about 4 feet wide and 8 feet, 8 inches tall.

The inclusion of Wenski, who was bishop of the Diocese of Orlando during the downtown cathedral’s $10-million renovation and expansion, keeps with the Roman Catholic tradition of incorporating images of the clergy responsible for a church’s construction or remodeling, diocese spokeswoman Carol Brinati said.

“That is not an uncommon thing to do,” Brinati said. “A lot of times the person who is responsible for the renovation of the cathedral will lend their signature to the art.”


But the prominence of Wenski’s figure and his portrayal in modern vestments instead of the attire of Jesus’ day has some church members grumbling that his inclusion in the window was excessive and inappropriate.

“This is controversial, outrageous at worst, and bound to make many angry at the ego of this man,” said a St. James parishioner who did not want his name used because it might harm a friend who works for the diocese.

Sister Elizabeth Worley, who oversaw the renovation as the diocese’s chancellor, said the decision to depict Wenski in his red robes at the time of Christ’s death might not be historically accurate, but it does represent his position as the visionary who conceived the cathedral’s transformation.


“We could have put his face on another character. Instead, we decided this is the bishop’s church, the cathedral, and it should show the bishop at prayer at the foot of the cross on Good Friday,” she said. “It’s his vision that got this started. This art is his legacy to the Diocese of Orlando.”

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posted November 20, 2010 at 12:06 pm

Apparently these folks don’t know their Christian art history. Often the patrons were also included as well as the clergy in images such these. It’s hard to find a church in Rome that doesn’t contain a mosaic or window like this.

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posted November 20, 2010 at 12:59 pm

I am a Catholic living in the dioceses of Orlando. The controversy is not about art history. One would have to know this arch bishop and his fundraising tactics for this “renovation” to be offended by the depiction. The mother of God is pushed to the background. That should tell you something. The man has an ego that borders on psycho.

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de ostler

posted November 20, 2010 at 2:11 pm

add to the comments;
The inclusion by patrons and donors never has given them public faces but is always symbolic. The approximation and appearance of: The spear of Destiny is rather alarming as it is held and presented with an equal presence adjacent the modern face.
The Soldier named ‘L’ is in this context must be shown with a square halo. ( as he is alive at the time of the depiction)
The quality of the work is top notch.
The research of the proper elements, presentation and form is just not there. I am certain the location is not a kitchen.
The composition is, and will remain ill advised.
What is the message of this window?
. . .a reflection on the event
a reflection on the effort to fill the hole in the wall.
What is the message of this window?

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posted November 29, 2010 at 1:37 pm

Canon 1187- It is permitted to reverence through public veneration only those servants of god whom the authority of the church has recorded in the list of the saints or the blessed

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posted December 10, 2010 at 11:50 am

Maybe we could put Alan Grayson in opposite the bishop? He has left us also

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