St. Mary’s Iconographical Program
The whole iconographical program is centered on the Eucharistic Mystery, as unfolded in the Saving Self-giving of Christ on the Cross, in the intercession on our behalf of the Saviour in His glory at the Father’s right side and in the continuation of the Redemptive Sacrifice in the celebration of the Holy Mass.
At the entrance of the nave of the church the path is open before the faithful with the mystery of the Annunciation. Since it is the Incarnation of the Word of God that opens anew to the redeemed humanity the door to the Father’s house: Christ, the Door of the sheep, enters the world at Annunciation, when the Blessed Virgin gave her full consent to the will of God the Father. If by the original sin of Adam and Eve the gate of heaven was closed to humanity, at the Annunciation this gate is opened again: the Blessed Virgin Mary is the New Eve, the wise-virgin who treasures, meditates and listens to God’s word; her heart and will are thus being prepared to be conformed to the Divine Will and cooperate in God’s saving work. She sits on a rock of a mountain with green pastures (recalling the mountain of paradise), holding with her left hand the scroll of Scripture opened at the passage from Psalm 45, 12: „Listen, daughter, and understand”, while her right hand lifted at the height of the ear indicates her listening-attitude. She wears a blueish mantle with purple shades (purple was the colour reserved only to the byzantine emperor and to his family and army), indicating her dignity as Mother of the Divine Emperor; the three stars, on her forehead and shoulders, indicate her privilege of perpetual virginity: before, during and after giving birth to Christ.
The archangel Gabriel announces her the Good News of the Incarnation, while Heavenly Father sends down the Holy Spirit and His power overshadows her. The luminous cloud that overshadows the Blessed Virgin recalls the cloud of the Divine presence that overshadowed the Tabernacle of the Old Covenant and indicates that Mary the New Eve, after giving her consent, became the living Ark of the New Covenant. There are few other details that suggest that renewal of the creation brought about by the Incarnation of the Divine Son: the river of living water gushing forth from the rock, the tree of life with seven fruits (referring to the fruits of the Holy Spirit) and the swallow, announcing the spring of the new creation.
Then, as the faithful approach the sanctuary, they can contemplate how on the altar of the Cross Christ reveals Himself as the New Adam, who reconciles the whole humanity with the Heavenly Father by offering His life for us and thus obtaining for us the gift of filial adoption. Jesus on the Cross is the sleeping New Adam, from whose open-side God creates the New Eve, that is the Church, reppresented here by the Blessed Virgin Mary. Her „Yes” given at the Annunciation is renewed at the foot of the Cross and, by uniting her wholehearted consent to that of her Son, the Blessed Virgin was deemed to share in His redeeming-mission. With unfaded faith she stood at the foot of the Cross as the Mater Dolorosa, accepting in her heart the piercing of the sword of suffering, and enabling that her Divine Motherhood be extended to the whole humanity. With her right streched hand she points toward the fount of our life, the open heart of her Son, inviting each one of us to approach and partake of this mystery.
Calvary becomes a new paradise, since by Christ’s saving sacrifice the New Creation is brought about: out of Jesus’s open side a river of living blood and water gushes forth, which splits into other four rivers, reminding of the four rivers of paradise; they reppresent the new life in the Holy Spirit given to the Church in the sacraments, quenching the thirst of the sheepfold of the Church gathered at the foot of the Cross. The legs of the sheep are deep in the water of the river, reminding the gift of baptismal life, which brings fruits ever new. Thus, Christ’s own words are fulfilled for each Christian: „Rivers of living water shall flow from within him” (Jn 7, 38 and Jn 4, 14). In our painting, these words written in the book held by John the Apostle are referred first to Christ Himself and then to all those who are made sharers in the life of the Holy Spirit. It is of this great mystery that the beloved disciple bears witness and invites all the faithful to draw near and contemplate together with him, with the openess of a disciple.
Moreover, the tree of the Cross, watered by the river of living water (see also the scene of the Annunciation depicted at the entrance of the nave), is revealed as the true Tree of Life, whose Fruit is Christ Himself.
Christ New Adam is also the Good Shepherd who seeks and gathers the lost sheep by offering up His life for them. Of these sheep the first ones are Adam and Eve: depicted in the cave at the foot of the Cross, Adam and Eve lift their hands with gratitude towards the Saviour and are sprinkled with the water and blood of the new life. Their joy is shared by whole sheepfold of humanity, re-born from water and Spirit (Jn 3, 5) and nourished and guided by the Good Shepherd towards the green pastures of life. In this joy partakes the whole creation, renewed by the saving work of the Redeemer, who is Lord over all time and space (reppresented here by the sun and the moon above the Cross).
Directing our gaze toward the apsidal arch, we see how Christ’s intercessory mission on the Cross is continued also in the heavenly glory, where He sits at the right hand of the Father interceding for us and preparing a mansion for us in the house of the Father. The signs of Christ’s Passion are now filled with the glory of His victory over death and sin in His resurrecction.
In this mediating mission of joins in the Heavenly Court, reppresented here by the Blessed Virgin Mary and saint Joseph, by the patron saints of Colorado: Frances Cabrini, pope John Paul II, Elizabeth Ann Seton and Francis of Assisi, and by the holy arcangels Michael (with red mantle) and Raphael (with green mantle). They all partake in the Heavenly Liturgy, which prolongs the Earthly Liturgy offered continually on the altars of the Church. The Blessed Virgin holds the scroll of the divine Word, which she treasures and meditates upon. While saint Joseph holds the flowered staff, as a sign of his being elected to be the guardian of the Arc of the New Covenant: just as Aaron was chosen to be the guardian priest of the Arc of the Old Covenant (Num 17, 8), so too saint Joseph was chosen to be the chaste spouse and guardian of the Blessed Virgin Mary, who is the Ark of the New Covenant, bearing in her womb the Incarnate Word of God. All saints of the Heavenly Jerusalem point toward the Cross and toward the signs of Christ’s Passion and Resurrecction.
The joining of the earthly and of the heavenly Liturgy is once more referred to by the Eucharistic tower, placed in the center of the apse-area at the foot of the Cross: its shape is that of the city of the Heavenly Jerusalem, with the Tabernacle at its center and with the image of the Risen Savior depicted on its door. He is the High Priest that holds the chalice of salvation and nourishes all the members of His Mystical Body assembled in the celebration of the Eucharistic Mystery upon the altar. Blessing with His right hand that has the sign of the glorious Passion, Christ invites all the faithful to partake in the Eucharistic Banquet prepared for them. By offering Himself in sacrifice on the Cross, Christ reveals the mystery of the Father’s love, as indicated by Our Lord’s golden halo with the red cross, in which we see the name that was revealed by God to Moses (“I am Who I am”: O WN; Exodus 3:14).
The golden flames on each side of the Eucharistic tower recall the Divine presence manifested in the column of fire that guided the Chosen People towards the Promissed Land and who guides all the members of the Church towards the House of the Father.