CARTHAGE — From the paintings on the ceiling, to the stained glass windows, from the stations of the cross to the carvings on the altar, art is in abundance at St. James Catholic Church.
More than the aesthetic appeal, the artwork has a deeper spiritual meaning, according to St. James parishioner Michael Sligar.
“All the art — the stain glass windows, paintings, statues — focus on one significant thing, Jesus Christ and the Holy Eucharist,” he said, noting the church is “one of the more beautiful structures” in the area.
About 20 years ago, Mr. Sligar became aware of the meanings behind the church’s artwork. In speaking with the then pastor, the Rev. James T. Spenard, Mr. Sligar learned the background of the art and symbolism which he compiled into a illustrated booklet — “Symbols, Painting, Statues and Signs Within Saint James Catholic Church.”
“There are so many paintings and other pieces of art,” Mr. Sligar said. “Father Spenard knew all the names and the history of all the art. Once I had the names of the saints, I did research.”
As part of the church’s 200th anniversary commemoration, the booklet has been updated with sharper photos and reprinted.
Mr. Sligar spoke about the church’s religious art in a series of 45-minute presentations over the weekend. Those attending the free sessions received a complimentary copy of the booklet “Symbols, Painting, Statues and Signs Within Saint James Catholic Church.”
To appreciate the full meaning of the artwork, Mr. Sligar had urged people of all faiths to attend one of the sessions.
“People will see the value of the art by coming and getting a greater understanding then just reading the book,” he said. “The beauty of the works is transcendental — it raises the mind and heart.”
The sessions are part of the yearlong celebration of the 200th anniversary of St. James Catholic Church, which was the third parish in the state.
The upcoming monthly celebrations include:
March — Lenten Parish Mission “Dare to be Holy”
April — Celebrating children of St. James
May — Celebrating Sisters of St. Joseph and the Augustinian Priests heritage
June — St. James Fair
July — Taste of St. James Cookbook
August — Parish picnic
September — Eucharistic Celebration
October — Celebration of Harvest Apple Festival
November — Time to give thanks
December — Carthage Festival of Trees
In January, there was to be a New Year’s Eve dinner. But due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, that event was postponed and is planned for Dec. 31.
In February, there was a celebration of marriage with couples renewing their marriage vows followed by a reception featuring dinner and music.