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Symbolic art

Wednesday, April 22, 2020/Categories: History

Satory decorated the church based on the fifteen mysteries of the rosary which are inscribed in Latin around the church. Prominence of place is given to the Crowning of Mary as Queen of Heaven, the fifth Glorious Mystery, painted on the transept ceiling in a flourish of symbols and monograms, the with Holy Trinity enclosing Mary who is represented by an eight-foot diameter stylistic rendering of the word MARIA with superimposed letters.

In 1903 the fourteen Stations of the Way of the Cross were purchased at a cost of $2200. They are not merely relief work but three-fourths, life-size, wall hung sculptures consisting of 55 figures, plus 28 angels in relief below the Stations.

In 1904 eleven high quality statues were brought from Munich. In addition to the Stations there are 37 free standing statues in the church, plus two figures, Jesus and Mary in the Pieta, and two figures, John the Baptist and Jesus on the baptismal font and a small sculpture of the Good Shepherd on the confessional. The church has 79 angles ranging in size from three in winged heads to life-sized, in various media: carved, case, painted and glazed. This is not an inventory of an art gallery but an expression of the faith of the people.

A photo in the 1905 church brochure shows the church without electric light fixtures. Instead two large candelabras and a chain for a third are shown holding dozens of candles. The silver candelabra now converted to electric light, and some statues are the only furnishings that were brought from the third church which stood in the area of the present rectory. In 1913 pastor Fr. Cyril Bayer, O.S.B., wrote this note about lightning that struck the church on April 25, 1913: "Wherever electric wire led the effects of the lightning can be seen." At some time before 1913 a power plant provided lighting, but gasoline engines provided power for the water pump and furnace hot air circulating fan. "In 1929 the pastor and towns-people organized the St. Benedict Light and Power Company. A line was built a mile and half connecting with the high line between Axtell and Seneca. There are 22 users all in the village." (Wolters, paper 101) On April 2, 1944, the company sold out the Nemaha-Marshall Electric Cooperative for $1200.

In August 1916 it was agreed that a better organ was needed. By October a grand pipe organ was installed, manufactured by the Hinners Organ Company of Pekin, Illinois, at a cost of $2450. It has 17 ranks with 932 pipes ranging from pencil size to nine feet in length. After sitting in disrepair form 1958 to 1983, it was fully restored in 1984 by the Quimby Organ Company, Warrenburg, MO. It is a tracker organ, all mechanical in action.

With the new organ installed by Fr. Gregory Neumayr, O.S.B., and played for the first time on his silver ordination anniversary in 1916, the church was furnished.

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