The “Creation” window on the west wall of St. John the Baptist Parish in Collegeville — which was installed in 1986 — was recently restored. TerHaar Stained Glass Studio in Cold Spring cleaned the window, replaced lead, re-soldered joints, reinforced the panels and re-installed it Dec. 22.
Because its designer, parishioner Richard L. Haeg, died in August 2018, Richard’s spouse, Eileen, shared her memories of their planning and the process of building the window.
She said their whole family was involved, with most of the work being done on evenings or weekends.
“When he was commissioned to do this window,” Eileen said, “we wanted it to represent our parish’s strong connection to St. John’s Abbey. Not only were parishioners employed there, and still are, but in 1876 the abbey founded the parish and the abbot was the parish pastor.”
In 1959, Richard was a senior art major at St. John’s University and was one of the artisans who worked on a large Abbey Church window until it was completed two and a half years later.
“Helping with the abbey window is how Richard learned the craft of creating stained glass windows,” she said.
In the “Creation” window, St. John the Baptist, the parish’s patron saint, is pictured at the top left, matched on the top right by St. Benedict holding the holy rule. In the background are the abbey bell banner and the old abbey’s twin towers.
“When Richard was considering a theme for the window, I mentioned that stained-glass windows of medieval cathedrals reflected the guilds of the people who contributed to its building,” Eileen said, “besides illustrating Bible stories and the lives of the saints.”
To echo the Benedictine motto of “worship and work,” Haeg painted glass and then fired it to feature local people at their tasks as well as the work of St. John the Baptist Parish. On the open book, he also included his name and those of his family, the then- (and current) pastor, Benedictine Father Roger Klassen, and then-St. Cloud Bishop George Speltz. (See sidebar below)
Eileen said, “It’s not unusual that a stained-glass window of this age would need to be restored. Richard did small repairs over the years, replacing pieces that had been broken. I’m happy that the parish is caring for the window. Richard would be pleased.”
Now brighter and stronger since the restoration, the parish’s window shows the creation of the world, combining realism with abstract design. In the center, the earth is depicted in light and dark blues, bordered with orange and red rings. White rays, symbolizing hope and visions of love, emanate from the world.
“When the sun shines through that section, I really like the beautiful patterns it makes on the floor,” she said.
Elements to look for in the “Creation” window
- Bread and wine of the Eucharist, the essence of any parish
- A family
- Scenes of work: bricklayer with trowel and bricks, cement block, woman caring for flowers, person representing medical arts, carpenter with hammer
- Scenes of the land: apples, pumpkin, sheaf of wheat, grapes and sickle, rooster, cow and pig, grasshopper, farm fields with stones and hills
- The arts: Irish harp, painter’s palette, open book with names
- Members of the parish building committee