It was in 1904 that the St. Wenceslaus Catholic parish, established in 1874 in Cedar Rapids, decided to build a new church.
Before the first brick was laid, though, the stained glass windows were ordered from Ford Bros., a well-known studio in Minneapolis.
The studio used opalescent and cathedral glass to create the popular, German-inspired, “Munich-style” windows where the leaded seams blend with the design. Master painters and college professors created the scenes on large panels of glass,
The bill for the 12 windows at the church, 1224 Fifth St. SE, was $1,360, or around $40,000 in today’s dollars.
The two largest double windows, both 8 feet wide and 18 feet tall, were placed on each side of the nave.
“The Resurrection,” given to the church by the Roshek brothers of Dubuque, “is of marvelous beauty,” The Gazette reported after the church opened for Christmas 1904.
“The Crucifixion,” presented to the church by Emma Pecenka, Mary Pecenka and Barbora Lukes, was mounted on the opposite church wall and was described as “stained in soft yet brilliant colors.”
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The signature window, “St. Wenceslaus,” was placed above the altar. A gift from Anthony Kopecky, it shows St. Wenceslaus, as the duke of the Bohemian people, mounted on a horse.
“The church and the grounds are valued at $40,000, and the Bohemian Catholics of the city certainly have a church of which they may be proud,” The Gazette reported at the time.
The remaining nine windows at the church, among the city’s most historic and most beautiful, were:
• St. Cyrillus, one of the first apostles of the Slavonic peoples, presented by Joseph Brush and family.
• St. Ludmila, presented by Anny and Francisca Vanous.
• St. John of Nepomuk, from Anna Sonka.
• Mater Dolorosa, from Mary Kula.
• Head of Christ, presented by Francis and Francisca Smid.
• St. Adalbert, presented by Anthony and John Hac.
• St. Agnes, presented by Anthony Kopecky Jr. and Anna Kopecky.
• St. Methodius, one of the first apostles to the Slavs, presented by Frank Sonka.
• A large round stained glass window, installed at the back of the church over the gallery, was a gift from the architects of the new church, Dieman & Fiske.
In 1932, the windows of St. Cyrillus and St. Methodius, brothers from Greece who were missionaries to Moravia in 863, were replaced with imported Czechoslovakian and English glass. The rest remained the same as they were in 1904.
Pictures of Windows
The church’s “Resurrection” window has been a favorite subject of Gazette photographers over the years.
In 1944, three airmen stationed at Coe College were photographed in front of the window.
In 1966, longtime Gazette photographer John McIvor took a series of photos of the window on April 9, the day before Easter. They were used the following year in an Easter directory and on The Gazette’s front page on Easter Sunday in 1976 and 1985.
In June 2008, floodwaters filled the church’s basement and was a foot deep in the sanctuary. Members helped with the backbreaking cleanup and were able to once again gather for Mass on Sept. 28, with an intermittent sun shining through the huge “Resurrection” window.
Among the other churches in the city with a Resurrection stained glass window is St. Ludmila Catholic Church, which began as a mission of St. Wenceslaus. The church, at 21st Avenue and Second Street SW, was dedicated on Sept. 6, 1926. The stained glass windows were installed in spring 1932.
The windows, designed by Benjamin J. Berning, were made by the Munich Studios of Chicago for $2,391. One window shows St. Ludmila.
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The stained glass windows were preserved and placed in the new St. Ludmila’s, built in 2001 on the same site.
Immaculate Conception Catholic Church, at 10th Street and Third Avenue SE, has 24 intricate stained glass windows. One large, round window, “Glorious Mysteries,” contains five medallions, one of them showing Christ rising from the dead.
First Presbyterian, 310 Fifth St. SE, has a Tiffany stained glass window called “The Resurrection Angel,” showing an angel at Christ’s empty tomb. It was given to the church by Mrs. Thomas M. Sinclair in memory of her daughter, Elsie Campbell Sinclair Hodge, who, along with her husband, Cortlandt Hodge, were killed in 1900 during the Boxer Rebellion in China.
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