St. Patrick’s Pro-Cathedral

National Register of Historic Places
United States Department of the Interior

Register of Historic Places
New Jersey Historical Association

An Artistic and Symbolic Description

Monsignor Robert James Wister, Hist.Eccl.D.
Seton Hall University

The Gothic Revival

St. Patrick’s Pro-Cathedral, built in 1850, at the height of the American Gothic Revival, is an excellent example of the simpler versions of the style.  This simplicity is reflected in the choice of exterior material, brick rather than stone, and the lack of spatial complexity in the interior plan.  A straightforward nave and aisle scheme, the church has side aisles terminating in delicately detailed apses.  The nave, the central space of the building, resolves its arcaded progress in a columned multifaceted full-height apse.

The architectural details are typical of the period and style, in not being exact copies but highly stylized and freely interpreted renditions.  The vaulting of the ceiling, highlighted by the recent repainting, is a fine example of German Gothic with its cats- cradle of ribbing and heavily foliated, newly gilded, bosses.  Bosses began as a decorative trick to cover up the inelegant intersections of multiple ribs and ultimately developed, as here, into important architectural details.

The other important element in the architectural program for the pro-cathedral is the Gothic tracery of the windows.  Unlike most examples of Gothic Revival, the designer of the church did not select one simple form for the lacey stone work at the tops of the windows, rather he chose to use multiple examples from the pattern books he referenced, making for an interesting catalogue of Gothic forms.

Note should also be made of the original altar furniture still in place.  The High Altar, a greatly diminished remnant of its original glory, is deeply carved with high style Gothic details, emphasized by the new color scheme that picks out these details.  The credence table, to the right of the altar, echoes the details and finish of the pro-cathedral masterpiece, the John Jelliff Cathedra, the Episcopal Throne.  This black walnut architectural fantasy, by the prominent Newark furniture-maker, is one of the finest extant examples of the nineteenth century carver’s art.

The latest renovation of this venerable seat of the Church in Newark has highlighted and enhanced the architecture of the pro-cathedral.

The structural bones of the building, the ribs of the vaulting, the arches of the nave, the tracery of the windows, all have been emphasized by the dark stone color contrasting with the light stone color of the vaulting and walls.  The marbleizing of the semi-attached columns of the aisles and the clustered columns of the nave enhance the vertical thrust of the interior.

The focal point of the new interior program is the chancel apse, the sanctuary of the church.  Here the decoration, both old and new, is more elaborate; the moldings are gilded and patterned.

There also are murals, depicting the escutcheons of the first five bishops of the Church in Newark.  These have been cleaned and brightened.  The columns of the upper register have been marbleized in verde antiqua, a green marble, while the clustered columns of the blind arcade below have been marbleized in red brown marble.  These are bracketed by columns marbleized to match those of the nave, thus visually integrating the two spaces.  The walls between these column clusters have been given a stone patterning that replicates the original wall treatment of the 1850’s, as revealed by the restoration.  The vaulting of the sanctuary has been painted midnight blue with gold stars, representing the vault of heaven.

This color scheme employs the colors of the liturgical year — green, red, blue, gold and white, which is found in the marble of the new altar and reredos.

The new altar in white and green marble with red and gold accents is the focus of the revived sanctuary.  Behind the new altar, atop the antique Gothic altar, is a new marble reredos, a stylized reinterpretation of the original, with its Gothic arches and green columnettes capped with carved antique capitals.  The new reredos serves as a backdrop for the church’s new tabernacle and the beautiful bronze crucifix mounted above.

-John M. Pierce, Interior Design Consultant


The design of St. Patrick’s is often credited to Rev. Patrick Moran, pastor of St. John’s Church on Mulberry Street in Newark, who was said to have an art and architectural background.  Moran is credited with designing various alterations and additions to St. John’s.

Several scholars disagree.  It was the opinion of Donald Geyer, Newark City Planner and architectural historian, that Brooklyn’s famous ecclesiastical architect, Patrick Charles Keely, may have collaborated with Moran.  Geyer based his claim on an illustration of the Church of Sts. Peter and Paul completed in 1848 in Williamsburg, Brooklyn that appears in a biography of Keely by architect Francis Kerwick.  The church bears a striking resemblance to St. Patrick’s.

Of the cathedrals credited to Keely by Kerwick, Geyer lists “Newark, N.J., Saint Patrick,” as well as St. John the Baptist in Paterson.  Among Keely’s parish churches in New Jersey, Kerwick names St. Patrick, St. Michael and St. Bridget in Jersey City and St. Peter in New Brunswick.  James F. Johnson agrees with Geyer and wrote that “it was through the kind interest of Father Patrick Moran that Mr. Keeley (sic) obtained the Newark work which secured for him the drawing up of a design for St. Patrick’s.” 

Although Moran had designed extensive alterations to St. John’s, it is difficult to imagine that a plan as complex as St. Patrick’s could have come from anyone other than a professional architect.  It seems likely that Keely drew up the plans, incorporating suggestions from Moran.


Length — 130 feet

Width — 70 feet

Height — 60 feet

Spire — 200 feet, topped with a cross

The Cathedra

  Perhaps the most spectacular feature of St. Patrick’s is the bishop’s chair.  According to church tradition, early bishops preached and taught, not from a pulpit, but from a chair in the sanctuary of the church.  The Latin word for chair is “cathedra.”  Because of the presence of the chair, a bishop’s principal church is called a cathedral.  In the nineteenth and preceding centuries, the bishop’s chair took on the appearance of a royal throne.  Few monarchs can claim a throne as glorious as the cathedra in St. Patrick’s Pro-Cathedral.  Designed and executed by John Jelliff, Newark’s most important furniture, chair and cabinetmaker of the last half of the nineteenth century, the achievement is spectacular.  “It is made of black walnut, gracefully carved, and extends upward of 20 feet, where it projects forward about six feet and culminates in pinnacle shape at the height of about 25 feet…Various devices of a religious and ornamental character, including a representation of two angels under the projection above, are ingeniously carved upon it.”  Interestingly, what appears to be the throne is actually a great canopy.  The chair itself is small, low-backed, and uncomfortable.  In the center of the canopy is a circular panel displaying the coat of arms of Most Rev. Theodore E. McCarrick, Archbishop of Newark. 

Several canceled checks payable to Jelliff in the Archives of the Archdiocese of Newark at Seton Hall University indicate the cost.  The checks are for $68.00, $919.25, $177.00, and $43.25.  Jelliff also designed the cover of the baptismal font, so some of these payments may reflect that as well.  This cover now serves as a canopy over the tabernacle in the chapel.  More than likely, the credence table in the sanctuary is also by Jelliff.

The Nave Windows

The windows of St. Patrick’s, with the exception of those in the sacristy, the vestibule and the transoms, were installed in 1925 and, according to newspaper records, made in The Netherlands.

Beginning on the right aisle facing the sanctuary, starting at the sanctuary, and going to the rear of the church, the windows follow the Gospel account of the life of Christ and the events of the redemption.

The windows are typical of the Gothic Revival of the nineteenth century, which reproduced the style of European cathedrals and churches of the Middle Ages, the eleventh to fifteenth centuries.  Each consists of a white frame that replicates in glass a stone or marble gothic window frame.  The portrait often includes another window looking out on a landscape scene. 

The portraitists of the Middle Ages did not have an “historical sense” in that they did not know how people would have dressed at the time of Christ.  The dress and accoutrements are medieval and are not meant to represent clothing of the time of Christ.  The persons depicted are likewise very European in appearance.  You will note that in many of the windows the children often are blond.  The average Judean two thousand years ago was not blond.  We should not be surprised at this.  It is a very human desire to be like those we venerate.

As you examine these windows note the golden candle sconces and crosses on the walls.  These twelve candles may only be displayed in a church that has been formally consecrated.  They are lit on the anniversary of the consecration of the church. St. Patrick’s was consecrated on March 17, 1875.

The Annunciation
Mary is at the center by her kneeler at prayer.  The Angel Gabriel with multi-colored wings is speaking to her.  The lilies in the vase near Mary and in the hand of the angel indicate purity.  The Holy Spirit in the form of a dove appears above Mary and the angel.  Through a window we can see a landscape and a towered building.  Mary’s head is uncovered, an indication of an unmarried woman.  In the subsequent windows her head will appear covered, denoting her status as a married woman or a widow.  Only in the last window will her head once again appear uncovered. There is a small statue of King David with his harp on the kneeler indicating that Mary and Jesus are descendents of David.

This is the only window in the church with a dedicatory inscription.  It reads: “In Memory of the Dead of the Parish — R.I.P.”  The letters “R.I.P.” are the abbreviation of the Latin Requiescant in Pace, “May they rest in peace.’

The Nativity
The child Jesus is at the center.  Around His head is a nimbus or halo. Inside the halo is a cross that indicates his future crucifixion.  Mary and Joseph are gazing at him.  A cow peers over Mary’s shoulder.  Joseph holds a lamp in his hand.  The shepherds adore the infant Jesus.  One of the shepherds carries a lamb on his shoulder, perhaps a sign of Jesus’ future sacrifice and his role as the Good Shepherd.  Another has a shepherd’s pipe in his belt. Angels hold a scroll on which are the words Gloria in excelsis Deo, “Glory to God in the highest.”  In the upper left we can see the “Star of Bethlehem” that would lead the Magi to Jesus.

The Presentation in the Temple
Mary and Joseph present the child Jesus in the Temple.  Joseph is carrying a cage with two pigeons, the sacrifice of a poor person.  The temple is in the style of a Gothic church.  With them are Simeon, holding the child Jesus, and Anna, as recounted in the Gospel. The menorah, or seven-branched candlestick, a symbol of the Jewish faith, is in the background.

The Wedding at Cana
The wedding is taking place in a Gothic building.  Through the window we see a cypress tree and a tower.  Jesus and Mary watch as the servant pours the water to be made wine into the jars.  Among the watchers are the anxious groom in the center, the steward wearing a red cap, and a young man with a halo who probably is St. John.

Jesus and the Little Children
Mothers bring their children to Jesus who welcomes them.  One child brings a  gift of flowers.  Interestingly all but one of the children are blond.  One has pigtails tied with a yellow ribbon.  In the upper left we see a vine, perhaps a sign of the Eucharistic sacrifice to come.  The ground is beautifully strewn with colorful flowers.

Symbols of the Evangelists, 
St. Matthew and St. John
  In many churches we find the four evangelists depicted by the face or figure of a man, a lion, a calf or bull, and an eagle.  The origin of this iconographic convention has its roots in the visions of the prophet Ezekiel (1:4-6, 10) and the vision of John in Revelation (4:6-7).  In the first centuries of the Church these four images became symbols of the four evangelists.  Each image is representative of the opening passages of the individual Gospels.  There is some variation as to which creature represents which evangelist.  Irenaeus and Jerome differed in assigning these images to the evangelists.  The version espoused by Jerome survived the test of time.

MATTHAEUS - St. Matthew is represented by a young man with a halo.  In our window he is winged and appears to be an angel.  This is drawn from the opening of Matthew’s Gospel, which begins with the genealogy of Jesus.  Matthew’s use of this human genealogy demonstrates the humanity of Jesus.

JOHANNES - St. John is represented by an eagle with a halo.  The Gospel of John soars like an eagle as its opening verses proclaim Jesus to be the Word of God.

Moving across the rear of the church to the left aisle we continue.

Symbols of the Evangelists, 
St. Mark and St. Luke

MARCUS - St. Mark is represented by a lion, also winged and with a halo.  In the Gospel of Mark the preaching of John the Baptist is portrayed as a voice crying, almost roaring, in the desert, “Prepare the way of the Lord.”

  LUCAS - St. Luke is represented by a winged bull with a halo.  After his preface, Luke mentions the priestly office of Zechariah.  Since the calf or bull in the Old Testament was a sacrificial animal for the priest, this image is applied to the Gospel of Luke.

The series now moves to the events of Holy Week.

The Last Supper
  Jesus is at the center of the table.  The apostles, some elaborately garbed, are grouped around Him.  On Jesus’ right, we see the bald and bearded St. Peter, on Jesus’ left, the young St. John, the “Beloved Disciple.”  In the rear we can see Judas, hooded and furtive,  leaving the meal while clutching the purse containing thirty pieces of silver.

The Agony in the Garden
Jesus is in the center.  An angel holds a cup, reminding us of Jesus’ prayer that the cup of suffering might pass but that the Father’s will be done.  The sleeping apostles are near Jesus.  Peter is shown with a sword.  When the soldiers and the high priest’s servants came to arrest Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, Peter cut off the ear of one of the servants.  Jesus then healed the man.  The setting is beautiful, a tropical garden with palm trees under a night sky studded with bright stars.  The moon, which is depicted with a face, peeks from behind a palm tree.

The Crucifixion
The pale dying Christ is mourned by the sorrowful Blessed Virgin, St. John and the kneeling St. Mary Magdalene.  Christ is surrounded by an elongated nimbus, or halo, decorated with the rays of the sun.  Sometimes called a mandorla, this almond-shaped design, signifies divine or heavenly presence and its use in ecclesiastical art is restricted to Our Lord and the Blessed Virgin.  An angel hovers watching the dying Savior.  The artist put in many details. Among them, the wooden pegs securing the crucifix to the ground.

We now move toward the sanctuary and examine the windows above the altar.  Above the sanctuary are five stained glass windows.

To follow the story chronologically we must first look at the center window.  This is the place of honor and it depicts the most important event of the Redemption.  We then alternate going from right to left.

The Resurrection - Center
  The sky is dark, as tradition says Christ rose shortly before dawn.  The soldiers appear dazed, as if they had just wakened.  The resurrected Christ, surrounded by the radiant nimbus, stands in triumph above his tomb.  The wound in His side is clear.  He holds a white flag with a red cross, the “Banner of the Resurrection.”  An angel, with a palm signifying victory, holds the lid to the tomb.  We should note that this window and the window depicting the Nativity are different from all of the other windows.  They occupy the entire area without a dividing mullion in the center.

The Appearance of Christ after the Resurrection
- Right of Center
The nimbus again surrounds Christ as He appears to his followers.  We see the Blessed Virgin with St. Peter kneeling in front of her.  The longhaired kneeling figure may be St. John.  Two angels worship.  In this window the angels, who are spiritual beings, appear as children’s heads with wings.  They are similar to the angels that decorate the sanctuary above the arches.

Pentecost - Left of Center
Tongues of fire issuing from rays of light appear over the heads of Mary and the Twelve Apostles.  After Judas’ betrayal, Matthias was elected to fill his place, and the reconstituted Twelve were all present for the descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.  All are dressed in elaborate robes.  One of the Apostles is holding a book, probably the scriptures.

The Assumption of Mary - Far Right
Mary rises above her tomb, which is filled with flowers.  According to tradition, Peter arrived after Mary’s death and, when taken to her tomb, found the body gone but the tomb filled with flowers.  The angel points to the radiance of heaven to which Mary will be raised.  Traditions vary on whether Mary died and was assumed or was assumed at the moment just before death.  In defining the Dogma of the Assumption in 1950, Pope Pius XII said that Mary was assumed, “when the course of her earthly life was ended,” thereby leaving the question open.

Coronation of Mary as Queen of Heaven
Christ is robed as a king, wearing a crown and holding a royal scepter.  Both Christ and Mary are seated on a throne.  He is placing a crown on Mary’s head.  Mary now appears again without head covering.  In heaven, there is no status of married or unmarried.  Her halo contains the stars mentioned in the Book of Revelation.  The elongated nimbus surrounds both Jesus and Mary, the upper portion of the picture is decorated with the stars of heaven.  Angels, one with a mandolin and another with a harp, complete the picture.

The Raggi Sanctuary Murals

  Gonippo Raggi, born in Rome, Italy, in 1875, studied at the Art Institute of S. Michele in Rome.  He came to the United States in 1904 at the invitation of Papal Marquis Martin Maloney to supervise the decoration of St. Catherine’s Memorial Church in Spring Lake, NJ.  Maloney had erected the church as a memorial to his daughter, Catherine.  Raggi drew the attention of Rt. Rev. Thomas J. Walsh, then Bishop of Trenton.  When Walsh became Bishop of Newark, he encouraged Raggi to continue his work in the Newark diocese.  Raggi was internationally acclaimed as a portraitist and ecclesiastical artist.  He provided murals for many churches and church institutions in the United States and supervised the decoration of the Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart in Newark.  He died in 1959.

Many of the murals Raggi executed for St. Patrick’s are no longer in place.  Painted on canvas and held by adhesive to the walls, they succumbed to damage from water and from time.

Some, however, remain.  Along the lower wall of the sanctuary are Raggi’s paintings of angels kneeling on either side of the coats of arms of the first five bishops of Newark.  They were completed in 1929.

 From left to right are the coats of arms of:

Bishop James Roosevelt Bayley
First Bishop of Newark
later Archbishop of Baltimore

Bishop Michael Augustine Corrigan
Second Bishop of Newark
later Archbishop of New York

Bishop Winand Wigger
Third Bishop of Newark

Bishop John O’Connor
Fourth Bishop of Newark

Bishop Thomas J. Walsh
Fifth Bishop of Newark
First Archbishop of Newark

The coats of arms of Archbishops Bayley and Corrigan have ten tassels on either side of the green prelatial hat.  The crosses have two bars.  These indicate their status as archbishops.

The coats of arms of Bishops Wigger and O’Connor have six tassels and their crosses have one bar.  These indicate their status as bishops.  For an unknown reason, perhaps chemical changes in the paint, the hat over Bishop O’Connor’s coat of arms is reddish in color, rather than the proper green for bishops and archbishops.

The Walsh coat of arms was originally painted as that of a bishop with six tassels and a cross with one bar, proper for a bishop.  When he became archbishop in 1938 it was altered and four tassels added.  However, the artist forgot to double the bar, producing a hybrid coat of arms.

Beneath each coat of arms is a motto on a scroll.  The mottoes are in Latin.  The motto of Bishop O'Connor was Sapientia Desursum, “Wisdom from above.”  Raggi mistakenly painted Sapienza, the Italian word for wisdom, rather than Sapientia, the proper Latin word.

The Raggi Nave Paintings

Above the arches of the bays, on either side of the arch, are paintings of Old and New Testament figures and Doctors of the Church.  They are on canvas and fastened to the wall.  Originally there was much blue, green and gold decorative design around them, filling the entire space between the arches and the clerestory windows.   The spelling of the names is an interesting mixture of Latin and Italian, reflecting the painter’s Italian origin.

From front to back there are four Patriarchs, four Prophets, four Evangelists, ten Apostles (two of the evangelists were also apostles), and four Doctors of the Latin or Western Church.  The grouping represents the Old Testament, the New Testament and the Church.

Beginning on the right side, proceeding from the sanctuary to the rear of the church, and then returning up the left side to the sanctuary, they are:

Patriarch Abramo  [Abraham]

Patriarch Noe [Noah]

Prophet Elia [Elijah, Elias]

Prophet Isaia [Isaiah, Isaias]

Saint Marcus [Mark] Evangelist

Saint Lucas [Luke] Evangelist

Saint Paulus [Paul] Apostle

Saint Andreas [Andrew] Apostle

Saint Bartholomeus [Bartholomew] Apostle

Saint Jacobus Maj [James the Greater, the Elder] Apostle

Saint Simon [Simon] Apostle

Saint Greg Mag [Gregory the Great] Doctor

Saint Agustinus [Augustine] Doctor

Saint Ambrosio [Ambrose] Doctor

Saint Girolomo [Jerome] Doctor

Saint Thaddeus Apostle

Saint Thomas Apostle

Saint Phillipus [Philip] Apostle

Saint Jacobus Min [James the Lesser, the Younger]

Saint Petrus [Peter] Apostle

Saint Joannes [John] Evangelist

Saint Matteus [Matthew] Evangelist

Prophet Daniel

Prophet Mose [Moses]

Patriarch Isac [Isaac]

Patriarch Adam

The Clerestory Windows

  The upper, or clerestory windows, are of translucent glass with various symbols in stained glass.  Like the nave windows, they were made in The Netherlands and installed in 1925.  The symbols do not appear to follow any particular plan. 

Beginning on the right side of the church facing the sanctuary and proceeding toward the rear, the windows are as follows:

Crown and Branches
  The crown symbolizes the kingship of Christ.  Branches and wreaths are symbols of triumph like the palms in the procession of Palm Sunday and the laurel wreath awarded to athletic champions.

Chalice and Host
The chalice and the host are symbols of the Eucharist.  The chalice contains the consecrated wine, the Blood of Christ, and the host, which is the consecrated bread, the Body of Christ.

Sacred Heart of Mary
The fire issuing from the heart symbolizes the intensity of her love for God, the flowers the purity of her heart, and the sword, the sorrows that pierced it.

Sacred Heart of Jesus
Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus emphasizes Catholic belief that Jesus is the Word of God made man.  His physical heart, united to His divinity, is a symbol of redemptive love.  The fire symbolizes the intensity of this love, and the crown of thorns surrounding the heart, the cost of the Redemption.

The Tree of Temptation
  The Genesis account of the creation of humanity tells that Adam and Eve were forbidden to eat the fruit of a specific tree in the Garden of Eden.  Satan appeared in the form of a serpent and persuaded Eve to eat of the “forbidden fruit.”  She, in turn, convinced Adam to do the same.  This violation of God’s command caused them to be banished from the garden.  The tree is shown with a serpent coiling around its trunk.

A five-pointed white star is shown overlaying a similar golden star.  Stars are often symbols of the Blessed Virgin.  Among her titles are “Morning Star” and “Star of the Sea.”

Water Fountain with Seven Spouts
The water fountain symbolizes the pouring forth of the grace of God.  God’s grace is given to humanity through the seven sacraments indicated by the seven spouts through which the water flows.

Anchor and Sun
The anchor is an ancient Christian symbol of hope.  As an anchor holds a ship fast in the midst of a storm, so the faith holds the Christian safe in the world.  The anchor with its crossbar was also a “hidden” symbol of the cross in the years of persecution in the Roman Empire.  The sun signifies the triumph of Christ, the triumph of light over darkness.

Spear and Sponge, Cross with White Cloth
The spear and sponge are instruments of the Passion of Christ.  In the Gospel account, Christ on the cross is offered a wine-soaked sponge to assuage his thirst.  The spear recalls the spear that pierced the side of Christ.  The cross, draped with a white cloth symbolizes the Resurrection — the cross without the body of Jesus but with the burial sheet discarded by the resurrected Lord.

Dove with Branch
A dove sent from Noah’s Ark returned with a branch showing that the flood had receded.  It was a sign of God fulfilling his promises to Noah and to all of humanity.

City on a Hill
The city on a hill is a symbol of the Church.  Easily seen because of its prominence, the Church is an example to all of humanity.  The city is also representative of the “New Jerusalem” prophesied in Scripture.

Crossed Keys
The crossed keys are a symbol of the power of binding and loosing sins.  In the Gospel Christ gives this power to Peter saying “I give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, whatsoever you shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, whatsoever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”

Continuing from the rear of the church up the left aisle.

Tablets of the Ten Commandments
The ten commandments are represented on two stone tablets.  The Book of Exodus narrates the account of Moses’ encounter with God on the top of Mount Sinai.  There he received the commandments from God Himself and engraved them on two stone tablets.

Plant Coming from Water
Plants and flowers are signs of the renewal of life.  The plant issuing forth from water symbolizes new life coming from the waters of Baptism.  It is a symbol of new life and resurrection.

Hammer, Nails and Pliers Surrounded by Crown of Thorns
These are instruments of the Passion of Christ. The hammer and nails affixed Christ to the cross and the pliers drew out the nails after His death.  The crown of thorns was placed on Christ’s head by the soldiers of Pilate when they mocked Him as “King of the Jews.”

White Rose
This is also called the “Christmas Rose.”  It is a white hardy rose that blooms at Christmastime in several countries, notably in England.

Water Fountain
The fountain of water is a symbol of Baptism.  In the waters of Baptism we are washed clean and become sisters and brothers of Christ.

"IHS" with Three Nails beneath and Cross above
These are Greek letters, the first three Greek letters of the name “Jesus.”

  “I” corresponds to “J”, “H” to “E”, and “S” to “S”.  The three nails and the cross recall the crucifixion of Christ.

The "Brazen Serpent"
In the 40 years in the desert, the Jews were attacked by poisonous snakes.  Moses fashioned a serpent of brass, held it over the people on a rod or staff, and all who had been bitten were healed.  Later, this was seen as a foreshadowing of the cross of Christ over the people healing them of their sins.

Ark of Noah
The ark of Noah is a symbol of the salvation of the people from the flood, also of the Church as the “ark” in which God’s people are protected.

The letter “M” stands for Maria.  The letter “R” stands for ReginaMaria Regina is Latin for “Mary our Queen.”

The Alpha and Omega on a Book
Alpha and Omega are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet.  They symbolize Christ as the beginning and end of time.  The book represents all of history, all of time.

The Heavenly City of Jerusalem
The heavenly city is described in the Book of Revelation.  Scholars consider it a symbol of the Church on earth that will be brought to perfection at the end of time in heaven.

The Ark of the Covenant
In the Book of Exodus we read that God commanded that the Ten Commandments written on two flat stones be placed in a chest of acacia wood.  Two poles of this same wood, covered with gold, were placed through rings attached to the chest so it could be carried.  Since the Ten Commandments were the covenant between God and humanity, the chest containing them is known as the “Ark of the Covenant.”


From the left, facing the sanctuary, the statues are:

Infant Jesus of Prague
The original eighteen-inch-high statue was donated by Princess Polyxena von Lobkowitz to Our Lady of Victory Church in Prague, Czech Republic, in 1628.  It was dressed in royal robes and crown as a sign of faith in Jesus Christ, the King of the world.  His right hand is raised in blessing, and in His left He holds a golden globe.  This statue was donated to St. Patrick’s in 1950.

St. Patrick
St. Patrick, patron of the pro-cathedral, is portrayed wearing the robes of a bishop, holding a shamrock in one hand and the bishop’s staff, the crosier, in the other.  His vestments are green, a liturgical color as well as the color associated with Ireland, of which he is the patron saint.  St. Patrick is also the Patron of Nigeria.  The statue was installed in 1950 in memory of Rev. Edward Kern.

St. Therese of Lisieux
  Therese Martin (1873-1897), better known as the “Little Flower,” entered the Carmelite Monastery of Lisieux and subsequently became Sister Therese of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face.  She suffered from tuberculosis and in her Autobiography she reflected not on what had occurred but on grace at work in events.  She was canonized in 1925 and declared a Doctor of the Church in 1997.  She is the patroness of persons with AIDS.

Sacred Heart of Jesus
  The inscription on the plaque beneath the statue reads: “This Statue was Blessed by the Rt. Rev. Bishop (Corrigan) on the Occasion of the Solemn Dedication of the Diocese of Newark to the Sacred Heart of Jesus on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception Dec. 8th A.D. 1873.”  The statue was made by the firm of Franz Meyer of Munich, Germany and purchased by Monsignor Doane in 1872.

Several details of the statue are unusual.  The Heart of Jesus is usually portrayed in the center of the chest.  On this statue the Sacred Heart is on the left side.  Jesus is portrayed wearing a stole, an unusual feature on a statue of the Sacred Heart.  The stole is crossed.  Before the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965), it was customary for priests to wear the stole in this manner.

Our Lady of Providence
The Blessed Virgin is shown seated with the child Jesus on her lap.  The Latino community presented it to St. Patrick’s in 1985 to mark the 135th anniversary of the parish.  Our Lady of Providence is the Patroness of Puerto Rico.

The Corbel Heads

Corbels are carved wood or stone projections that sustain weight.  Our ten corbel heads appear to sustain the weight of the recessed columns above them.  They are arrayed along the nave wall between the arches.  They probably do not represent particular persons but are purely decorative.  Medieval Gothic churches often had similar decorations.  More than likely these were cast in plaster from molds.  There are three designs: a woman, a bearded man with a bald head, and a bearded man with hair.  The designs alternate in an interesting pattern:

Left wall facing the sanctuary:

Bearded man with a bald head
Bearded man with hair
Bearded man with a bald head

Right wall facing sanctuary:

Bearded man with hair
Bearded man with a bald head
Bearded man with a bald head
Bearded man with hair

While uncertain, it is possible that these figures represent St. Peter, St. Paul, and the Blessed Virgin Mary.  St. Peter is often represented as bearded and bald.  St. Paul as bearded with a head of hair.  This is how they are portrayed in the Chapel stained glass windows.  There are many ways in which the Blessed Virgin is depicted.  It is also possible that they simply represent the people of the parish.

Our Lady Chapel

Chapel of St. Vincent de Paul

  The chapel was added to the church in 1859 and dedicated to St. Vincent De Paul.  Its purpose was to accommodate overflow crowds.  The seating originally consisted of benches without backs.  They were arranged so the congregation could either face the altar, originally placed where the tabernacle is now placed, or the main body of the church. 

In 1906, the chapel was transformed into a baptistery with the removal of the altar and the placement of a baptismal font in its place.  The archways to the church were completely open until the 1982 renovations.  At that time a transparent plastic divider was built separating the chapel from the body of the church.  At its dedication, the renovated chapel was named Our Lady Chapel.  In 1999 the walls were removed and replaced with sheetrock and the doors were frosted.  The chapel altar and the tabernacle platform were installed as part of the 1982 renovations, incorporating brass filigree from the 1906 altar rail, which was removed at that time.

Over the tabernacle is an elaborate gothic canopy.  It is made of carved black walnut and originally was the covering of the baptismal font.  It probably is the work of John Jelliff, who carved the cathedra in the church.

The Chapel Windows

According to a newspaper account, the windows, like those in the main church, were made in The Netherlands and installed in 1925.  It is quite possible that they were made in Germany and shipped from The Netherlands.

A Gothic frame surrounds each.  The figures are set before a damascene cloth draped in the background, the color of which changes with each set of windows.  Above and behind the drapery, the artist depicts various landscapes.

As you enter the chapel the windows on the left, beginning at the rear and going forward are:

St. Peter
Simon was the brother of Andrew who led him to Christ.  He was renamed "Peter" (rock) by Jesus to indicate that Peter would be the rock on which the Church would be built. According to tradition he was crucified head downward because he claimed he was not worthy to die in the same manner as Christ.

The traditional portrayal of St. Peter, which originates in apocryphal writings of the second century, is that of a bald man with a short beard.  He is so depicted on this window.  In one hand he holds the “Keys of the Kingdom.”  In Matthew’s Gospel, Peter is given these keys as a symbol of the power of forgiving or retaining sins.  These crossed keys are today the most recognized symbol of the papal office.  In his other hand he holds a book which recalls his traditional authorship of two epistles.

He is the patron of the Papacy, of bakers, butchers, cobblers, and fishermen.

St. Paul
A tentmaker, born in Tarsus, a Roman citizen and a Pharisee, Paul was on his way to Damascus to arrest Christians when he was knocked to the ground, struck blind by a heavenly light, and given the message that in persecuting Christians, he was persecuting Christ.  The experience had a profound spiritual effect on him, causing his conversion to Christianity.  He was baptized, changed his name to Paul to reflect his new life, and began traveling and preaching.  He was martyred in Rome.

The traditional portrayal of St. Paul, which also originates in apocryphal writings of the second century, is that of a man with a long, pointed beard.  He is so shown here.  He carries a long sword, a reminder that the Word of God is a “Two-edged Sword.”  He also carries a book denoting his authorship of many of the epistles in the Christian Scriptures.

He is the patron of the Cursillo movement, evangelists, lay people, and of Malta.

Sacred Heart of Mary
The Blessed Virgin is shown in the blue mantle with which she is so often portrayed.  Her heart is exposed.  The fire symbolizes the intensity of her love for God, the flowers the purity of her heart, and the sword the sorrows that pierced it.  As a detail, the artist gave Our Lady a red slipper.

St. Vincent de Paul
St. Vincent de Paul (1580-1660) is shown as a seventeenth century priest, holding a child in his arms.  The child represents St. Vincent’s work in behalf of orphans and the poor.  After escaping enslavement by pirates in 1607, he began a life of charitable works that led to his founding of the Sisters of Charity.  In 1625 he founded the Congregation of the Mission, a religious order of men commonly called the Vincentians.  His example led to the foundation of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul in the early nineteenth century.  The Society was very active in St. Patrick’s Parish and the chapel, now “Our Lady Chapel,” was originally called the “Chapel of St. Vincent de Paul.”

He is the patron of charitable workers, hospital workers, lepers, prisoners, and the St. Vincent de Paul Society.

St. Ann and the Blessed Virgin
Both figures are shown barefoot.  St. Ann, with hand raised, is portrayed teaching her daughter.  Mary, with flowers in her hair, looks respectfully toward her mother.

St. Ann is the patroness against poverty, of Canada, childless people, grandmothers, mothers, pregnant women, and women in labor.

St. Joachim
We know St. Joachim’s name from the apocryphal writings of the second century.  He too is barefoot.  According to the apocrypha, Joachim was not allowed to offer sacrifice because he had not fathered a child.  The tradition tells us that he and Ann brought their only child, Mary, to the temple at the age of three and she remained there.  Lambs and doves for the sacrifice, which Joachim was now allowed to offer, complete the picture, and he holds a rod culminating in a sharp instrument used for ritual sacrifice.

He is the patron of fathers and grandfathers.

Continuing to the right and returning to the rear of the chapel:

St. Aloysius Gonzaga
The patron saint of youth, St. Aloysius (1568-1591), against his parents’ wishes, entered the Society of Jesus, the Jesuits.  While nursing the sick during the 1591 plague in Rome, he was taken ill and died.  The crucifix shows his devotion to the crucified Lord, and the lilies represent his purity of life.

  He is the patron of youth, Jesuit students and AIDS caregivers.

St. Agnes
Little is known of St. Agnes beyond her third-century death as a martyr.  The Emperor Constantine erected a magnificent church in her honor just outside the walls of Rome.  On her feast day two lambs are blessed at her church in Rome, and then their wool is woven into the palliums (bands of white wool) which the pope confers on archbishops as symbol of their jurisdiction. The palm in her hand is a symbol of martyrdom.  She is often shown with a lamb because the Latin word for lamb, Agnus, is so similar to her name, Agnes.  She too has a red slipper.

She is the patroness of the Children of Mary, engaged couples and rape victims.

Sacred Heart of Jesus
Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus emphasizes Catholic belief that Jesus is
the Word of God made man.  His physical heart, united to His divinity, is a symbol of redemptive love.  In 1856, the Feast of the Sacred Heart was extended to the entire Church.  The crown of thorns recalls the Passion and the fire signifies the intensity of Jesus’ love.

St. Mary Magdalene
Mary of Magdala was a follower of Jesus who was present at the crucifixion and to whom the Lord appeared after His Resurrection on
Easter morning.  Later traditions erroneously equated Mary with the sinful woman who anointed Jesus, and with Mary of Bethany, who also anointed Jesus.  Our Mary Magdalene, beautifully dressed and bejeweled, is the result of this error.  She is pictured with the jar of oil with which Jesus was anointed.

She is the patroness of penitent sinners.

St. Patrick
  St. Patrick lived from about 390 to about 461.  Probably born in England, he was the son of a deacon and the grandson of a priest.  He spent some years in slavery in Ireland having been captured by border raiders.  Returning to England, he was ordained priest.  He returned to Ireland and evangelized Ireland from the north.  He established his episcopal see at Armagh.  Tradition says he used the shamrock to illustrate the concept of the Trinity and drove the snakes from Ireland.  He is shown here in the vestments and jeweled miter of a medieval bishop, holding the crosier in one hand.  In the other he holds the shamrock.  Among the details of episcopal dress that did not escape the artist are the gloves St. Patrick is wearing.

He is the patron against snakebites, and of Ireland, Nigeria and excluded people.

St. Joseph
  The spouse of the Blessed Virgin and the foster father of Jesus, St. Joseph is portrayed in a very traditional manner.  According to the apocrypha, Joseph and others were called to the Temple.  One was to be chosen as Mary’s spouse.  During the ceremony, Joseph’s walking stick sprouted lilies.  This was seen as a divine sign, a sign of his purity, and he was chosen to be Mary’s spouse.  Therefore, he is normally portrayed with the walking stick with lilies.  He is regarded as an example of the purity symbolized by the lilies.  St. Joseph is also depicted barefoot.

He is the patron of families, of engineers, of a happy death and of the Universal Church, Canada, China, Korea, Mexico and Vietnam.

The Sacristy

  The windows of the sacristy depict a “Tree of Life” motif.  If you look closely you will see that some of the glass panels are mismatched.  The vestment cases were installed in the sacristy in 1933.  Of solid oak, they consist of  4 sets of drawers, 6 in each set, and 2 closets for copes and other vestments.  They were constructed by Nicholas Sportelli and Son of Paterson.

The Bells of St. Patrick's

Consecrated by Bishop Bayley on December 8, 1862

St. Patrick — 3,000 pounds
Blessed Virgin — 1,536 pounds
St. James — 888 pounds
St. Bridget — 375 pounds

Consecrated by Bishop Corrigan on February 21, 1875

St. John the Baptist — 2,100 pounds
St. Peter &  St. Paul, Apostles — 1,262 pounds
St. Gabriel, Archangel — 648 pounds
St. Aloysius, Confessor — 534 pounds
St. Rose of Lima, Virgin — 456 pounds
St. Cecilia —  280 pounds

  The weight of all ten bells is 11,264 pounds.  Newspaper reports give differing weights for some of the bells.  I have chosen to use the weights stated by Bishop Corrigan in his Diocesan Journal.

The Organ

On March 10, 1875, an organ made by Henry Erben was installed in St. Patrick’s.  The original organ, installed in 1850, was sold to St. Michael’s Church in Jersey City.  In 1924, Odell and Company of New York constructed a new instrument utilizing many of the pipes of the Erben Organ and new pipes as well.  The present organ, incorporating pipes from both the Odell and the Erben organs, was built by the Peragallo Organ Company of Paterson, NJ, and installed in 1968.  It is dedicated to the memory of Rt. Rev. Monsignor James F. Looney, P.A.

The specifications for the organ are as follows:

The organ has three manuals, Great, Swell, and Choir of 61 notes and Pedals of 32 notes.

The Great Organ has seven stops: Open Diapason 8’, Bourdon 8’, Octave 4’, Harmonic Flute 4’, Octave Quint 2-2/3’, Super Octave 2’, Fourniture III Rk.

The Swell Organ has nine stops: Bourdon 16’, Geigen Diapason 8’, Hohl Flute 8’, Viole 8’, Viole Celeste 8’, Prestant 4, Rohr Flute 4’, Mixture II Rk., Oboe 8’.

The Choir Organ has seven stops: Geigen Principal 8’, Rohr Gedeckt 8’, Dolce 8’, Dolce Celeste 8’, Wlad Flute 4’, Block Flute 2’, Harmonic Trumpet 8’.

The Pedal Organ has ten stops: Contrebasse 16’, Sub Bass 16’, Bourdon 16’, Quint 10-2/3’ Principal 8’, Mass Flute 8’, Super Octave 4’, Choral Bass 4’, Octavin 2’, Bombarde 16’.

The total number of stops is 32.

The total number of pipes is 1863.

There are 22 Couplers on the organ, 23 Piston Combinations, visibly operating the stop key tablets, 1 Balanced Swell Pedal, 1 Balanced Choir Pedal, 1 Balanced Crescendo Pedal, 3 Pedal, Sforzando Reversible, 1 Great to Pedal reversible

The accessories are five in number: 3 Crescendo Indicator Lights, 1 Sforzando Indicator Light, 1 Current Indicator Light, Swell Tremulant, Choir Tremulant.

The Vestibule Windows

St. Patrick Transom Window
Shamrock Transom Windows

In the transom, above the central door leading to the church from the vestibule, we see a magnificent stained glass representation of St. Patrick, patron of the pro-cathedral.  St. Patrick is shown holding a shamrock.  According to tradition, he used the three-leafed shamrock as a device to explain the mystery of the Trinity as he preached to the Irish.

This window, and its two companions over the doors to the left and right, has a background of “glue-chip” glass.  The hands and face are “double-paned,” producing a three-dimensional effect.  Two leading techniques were utilized in the fabrication of this window: “copper foiling,” which combines lead and copper foil, and “lead came,” the traditional “H” shaped lead that holds the pieces of glass together.  The use of double-paning and both leading techniques is unusual and indicates a high quality of workmanship.  This window and its companions were probably made in the period from 1870 to 1890.  We do not know in what studio these windows were made.

The glass over the two smaller doors is of the same style and depicts bouquets of shamrocks, symbol of St. Patrick and of Ireland.

The two side doors of the vestibule leading outside are enhanced with glass above them each depicting a cross and other decorations.

The designs in the lancet windows in the front wall of the vestibule contain various symbols of Christ and the Blessed Virgin.

As you face the wall they are from left to right:

Oil Lamp
The lamp is a symbol of wisdom and may refer to Mary as the “Seat of Wisdom,” one of her titles.

The Letters "X" and "P", intertwined
“X” is the Greek letter corresponding to “CH” and “P” is the Greek letter corresponding to “R”.  “X” and “P” therefore are the first two letters in Greek for Christ.  “X” and “P” were used in early Christian art as a symbol of Christ.

Red Rose and Star
  Among the Blessed Virgin’s titles are “Mystical Rose” and “Star of the Sea.”  This window combines these two titles.

Fleur-de-lis or Lily
The lily is the symbol of purity, often used as a symbol of the Blessed Virgin.  It was selected by the kings of France as their emblem and was used on the banner of St. Joan of Arc.

The Letters "Alpha" and "Omega"
  The first and last letters of the Greek alphabet, they symbolize Christ as the beginning and the end of time.

At the base of these particular windows is the name of the stained glass maker of the vestibule windows, “Luther Studios,” of Paterson, New Jersey.

These are Greek letters, the first three Greek letters of the name “Jesus.”  “I” corresponds to “J”, “H” to “E”, and “S” to “S”.

Cross and Crown
  The crown signifies the kingship of Christ and the triumph of Christ over death on the cross.  They symbolize the reward of the faithful in the life after death given to those who believe in the crucified savior.

Above the main entry doors and in the choir loft there are windows of similar design, probably from the same glass studio.


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