“I lived with these windows for four years. I looked at them every day and I did not see them.”
— Jim Casey
Below is from Jim Casey’s writing “Fire in the Heart: The Patrimony of St. John Baptist de La Salle”
The rich spiritual, historic, and artistic patrimony of the life of St. John Baptist de La Salle is reflected in these beautiful stained glass windows that you are about to see. They tell the story of St. La Salle’s devotion to the Holy Family with a special emphasis on the Holy Child Jesus and La Salle’s awareness that he lived in the presence of God. His life reflected the gospel message, “I have come that they [the children of the world] may have life and have it to the fullest.”
These windows are probably the most beautiful and complete artistic reflection in stained glass of St. La Salle’s life and work in the world. They can serve to carry the Lasallian spirit forward to future generations if they are properly preserved.
These windows are imbued with historic significance for the Institute of the Brothers of the Christian Schools. Many of the windows are based on artwork done for the beatification and the canonization of John Baptist de La Salle, art that is displayed in the Generalate as well as the Vatican. They are dedicated to Brothers who vitalized the work of the Lasallian mission in America in the 19th century, who were heroic in their responsiveness to need and in pursuit of quality education for America’s youth. They were heroic in the sacrifices that obedience imposed on them. They valued the stability of the Institute above their own personal intuitions. In recognition of this dedication, Brothers’ students and benefactors, such as the Archbishop of Newark, donated these windows.
Within the windows there are representations of significant personages such as Brother Joseph, 13th Superior General, Brother Facile, Provincial and early backbone of the Brothers in North America, Brother Donatian Joseph, the Provincial at the time of the installation of the windows, as well as two Archbishops of New York so supportive of the Brothers work, Hughes and Farley, as well as several saints. Archbishop Farley became an affiliated member of the Institute in 1907.
An Assistant and future Superior General, Brother Imier of Jesus, had been appointed Provincial Visitor of the United States in 1898, largely as a result of what was known as “the Latin Question.” He was intimately involved, together with Brother Donatian Joseph, in the development of the house of formation at Pocantico Hills, New York, as well as the manufacturing process and negotiations about the transfer of the windows to the United States from France. He corresponded with Brother Donatian about the windows and other matters, and he experienced a feeling of indebtedness for the kindness of Brother Donatian, at one point expressing his wish to “pay his bills” for such kindness. One can’t but wonder if the image of Brother Donatian in the Approbation window did not come as a complete surprise to him at the dedication ceremony as a result of Brother Imier’s chance to “pay him back.” What a surprise it must have been!
These are vibrantly beautiful windows celebrating the life, work, death and glorification of St. John Baptist de La Salle. They were designed by the renowned workshop of L. Mazuet and Sons of historic Bayeux, France, who were believed to have been former students of the Brothers, and installed in the novitiate of the Brothers of the Christian Schools at Pocantico Hills, New York. Archbishop Farley dedicated Saint Joseph’s Novitiate on October 2, 1906. These windows were shipped to the United States in 1909 according to correspondence to Br. Donatian Joseph, Visitor, from Br. Imier of Jesus, Assistant Superior General. The Manhattan College Newsletter of October, 1909 reports: “The chapel was specially interesting by reason of the beautifully stained–glass windows from the old historic town of Bayeux, which were being put up under the superintendence of the French artist who designed them…”
The Childhood of De La Salle
John Baptist de La Salle was born on April 30, 1651 in Reims, France. He was the first child born to Louis de La Salle and Nicolle de Moët de Brouillet. In 1446, Charles VII of France ennobled his mother’s ancestors, brothers Jean and Nicolas Moët, descendants of Jehan Moët. His mother gave up her claim to nobility by marrying Louis de La Salle who was a magistrate of the presidial court of Reims.
There were eleven children in the family, four died in infancy and seven lived to adulthood. Three of the children became priests, John Baptist, James Joseph and Jean- Louis. Each became a Doctor of Theology. One daughter, Rose-Marie, entered a religious order, the Canonesses of St. Augustine, at age 16. She died in 1682 at the age of 25 from poisoning due to a medicine, which was improperly prepared. Marie, the eldest sister married Jean Maillefer in 1679. Pierre became a lawyer. Jean-Remy married in 1711.
Reims was an intellectual center. The University of Reims was founded in 1548. La Salle’s parents, concerned for both his spiritual and intellectual development, saw to it that he attended the Collège des Bons-Enfants connected with the University. He received his Masters of Arts degree here on July 10, 1669. He received his Doctorate in Theology in 1680. His cousin Canon Pierre Dozet, who is in red in this window, was chancellor of the University of Reims. He as was in a position to see the progress and dedication of his younger cousin.
The parents of John Baptist de La Salle are on the right in this window. His cousin, Canon Pierre Dozet, who resigned his position as Canon in the Cathedral of Reims in favor of La Salle, is in red on the left. John Baptist was installed as Canon of the Cathedral of Reims at 15 on January 7, 1667. Three years later, on October 18, 1670 he entered the seminary of St. Sulpice in Paris to pursue his desire to become a priest. His studies would soon be interrupted.
When he was 20 years old, his mother died on July 19, 1671, at the age of 37, just under a year after her own father, Jean, died on July 27, 1670. Less than nine months after his mother’s death, John Baptist’s father, Louis died on April 9, 1672, leaving John Baptist responsible for the family. He consequently left St. Sulpice on April 19, 1672. Now, at almost 21 years of age, he dedicated himself to the care of his family, seeing to the continued education of his brothers and sisters. During this period, he wrestled with doubts about his vocation, but with the support and guidance of his spiritual counselors, especially Fr. Nicolas Roland, he followed through on his original desires and was ordained a priest on Holy Saturday, April 9, 1678, six years to the day after his father’s death.
His maternal grandmother, Perette, assisted in the care of some of the children. She died on July 10, 1691 at 76 years of age. In 1743 Claude Moët established Maison Moët, home of the noted champagne. He was also a descendent of Jehan Moët as was La Salle’s mother.
Home and Church
La Salle’s childhood home and the Cathedral of Reims point to important aspects of his early life, namely, his family and the Church. This detail of his childhood home is based on an engraving done by Joffroy in the 19th century, which is based on a drawing by Fichot. A similar image appears in the painting St. La Salle and His Brothers by Fabian Zaccone that is in the Chapel of De La Salle and His Brothers at Manhattan College in New York City.
Hôtel de La Salle, his childhood home, is located at 4 Rue de l’Arbalète, 51100 Reims, a short walk from the Cathedral.
He Offers Children of All Nations to the Holy Family
The similarity between the painting and the window is evident immediately by the extension of St. La Salle’s arm heavenward. The children in native garb, and St. Peter’s Basilica in the background of both the painting and the window, represent the worldwide context and character of the work of the Brothers as fulfilling the Church’s mission to bring the Gospel to all nations.
This work is enriched by the awareness of the presence of God, the presence, which is seen in each child. The cherubim who attend God, as displayed in both the painting and the window, symbolize His presence. The cherub symbol is used throughout these windows to remind us of God’s presence.
La Salle was aware of the presence of God as an essential part of his life, an appreciation he received from his mother. He realized the importance of relating that awareness to the very work of the Brother’s everyday life.
The garland of fruit at the bottom of the window is a symbol for the bountifulness of Divine Providence, the diversity of the children as God’s gift to the world.
Universality of the Lasallian Mission
The universality of the Lasallian Mission, carried out in all parts of the world, is represented in this window by the diversity of the children in native garb, as well as the image of St. Peter’s Basilica.
One cannot help but be drawn to this window by the warmth of the theme and the richly colored light that the glass transmits to the interior of the chapel. The all-encompassing sweep of De La Salle’s arms draws us upward to the Holy Family bathed in golden light, as can be seen in the picture on the opposite page.
This image serves to remind us of the unified relationship between the spiritual and material, and that the teaching work of the Brothers encompasses the fuller dimension, inclusive of both the spiritual and material reality, the Brothers wanting a fullness of life for their students.
The face in the lower corners suggests this desire. The symbol, sometimes referred to as “the Green Man” or “the Foliate Man,” appears in some medieval churches and cathedrals, Chartres and Notre Dame, Paris among them. It signifies the irrepressible quality of life, the fullness and unity of life, linking the natural world, represented by the foliage, to the spiritual dimension of man, represented by the head, once thought to be the locus of the soul.
In the lower right corner of the window the dedication says: “In Memory of Rev. Bro. Facile.”
Dedication to Brother Facile
According to a New York Times article of April 4, 1886, “It was the wish of Brother Facile, who established the Order of the Brotherhood of the Christian Schools in this city in 1848, that his body should be buried in America.” The article goes on to say: “Brother Facile died in Paris in 1882, [an error] and his remains were brought to this city recently.” He was buried in the Brothers’ plot at Amawalk, NY April 3, 1886. He now rests in Gate of Heaven Cemetery in Valhalla, NY.
He was concerned that the teaching of Latin in the Brothers’ schools might lead to a division in the Institute between the American Brothers and the French Brothers. He advised the Brothers of his concern about it.
Many years later, a December 26, 1899, New York Times article suggested that very possibility, saying that advocates of the Brothers’ cause say that “the only thing for the Brothers to do will be to withdraw from the French Order” if they are denied permission to teach Latin. Needless to say, the Brothers complied with the Rule and in holy obedience placed the stability of the Institute above their own personal intuitions and the wishes of some American Bishops.
Brother Facile was born Benoit Rabut, April 1, 1800, in Cublize, France, to Charles Rabut and Marie Colin. He entered the Institute in 1836. Brother Facile has been described as: “Born to rule, large of heart and broad of mind, a man inspired by the zeal of the Apostles, indefatigable in his exertions, traversing the New World from the Saint Lawrence to the gulf of Mexico, wherever he went he won respect and esteem for the Brothers’ habit.” It is only fitting that his image is to the right of St. La Salle in this window.
Prior to coming to North America Brother Facile had been director of Brothers in Nîmes, France and then he took over the direction of Brothers in prison work. Before this came to an infelicitous end, Brother Facile had quelled a revolt, which broke out in the prison of Melun and in another unfortunate incident, Brother Pascal, was murdered while escorting a prisoner. It was said that the prisoners did not take to the kindness of the Brothers, but rather saw it as weakness.
In 1848 Brother Facile was sent to Montreal where his work produced much fruit. The demand for Brothers’ schools was so great that he could not fulfill all the requests. For more than ten years he had to deny Archbishop Alemany’s request for Brothers in San Francisco until Alemany went directly to Pope Pius IX.
Eulalie Durocher, Mother Marie-Rose, the foundress of the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary, held Brother Facile and the Brothers of St. James School in Montreal in high esteem for helping her new congregation learn the principles of teaching. “The Brothers of St. James School have won an inalienable right to our gratitude for the valuable assistance given to our growing Institute,” she said. Pope John Paul II beatified her on May 23, 1982.
Consecration to the Holy Child Jesus
Both of La Salle’s spiritual advisors, Frs. Nicolas Barré and Nicolas Roland were devoted to the Holy Child and both founded congregations of Sisters of the Infant Jesus. They have both been beatified.
Fr. Roland founded his order, Les Soeurs de l’Enfant-Jésus, in Reims. The Cathedral of Reims is in the background of this window. Prior to his untimely death on April 27,1678 he asked La Salle to watch over the affairs of the young order, which La Salle did, seeing to their approval by King Louis XIV on May 9, 1678. It was through his care for the Sisters that La Salle met Adrien Nyel. This meeting led to his founding the Institute of the Brothers of the Christian Schools.
The Cathedral of Reims
The cathedral in the background of this window is the Cathedral of Reims where La Salle was installed as a Canon at the age of 15 on January 7, 1667. He
resigned this position in 1683 to share in the poverty of the Brothers.
On April 9, 1678, the Archbishop of Reims ordained him. He said his first Mass in the cathedral on April 10, 1678, just seven days before the death of his friend and mentor Fr. Nicolas Roland. Like La Salle, Nicolas Roland was also born in Reims, on December 8, 1642, just nine years before La Salle.
The artistic attention to detail in these windows is reflected in the vestments and the halo of this portion of the Consecration window.
These windows have been described as “hidden treasures” by renowned and internationally acclaimed stained glass artist, Robert Pinart and stained glass artist Brigitte Pasternak. “They must be seen. We do not know of a single glass artist who could produce windows of this refinement today, especially on that immense scale. They represent the final blossoming of the painterly style in vogue during the 18th and 19th centuries, in the spirit of oil painting on canvas. …Their legacy is irreplaceable. Above and beyond the exquisite detailing, the windows demonstrate a sure sense of composition, color and style. Such harmony is the work of a first rate studio.” Pinart received the first Lifetime Achievement Award from the Stained Glass Association of America.
Spiritual Advisors Beatified
Both of St. La Salle’s spiritual advisors were devoted to the infant Jesus and both were beatified. Fr. Nicolas Barré founded the Sisters of the Infant Jesus in 1666 and he was beatified on March 7, 1999.
Fr. Nicolas Roland founded the Sisters of the Infant Jesus in Reims. He was beatified on October 16, 1994.
The friendship, spiritual support and guidance of both these men, including the inspiration of their work with the poor had a profound impact on the path that de La Salle would follow.
De La Salle Teaching
This window of St. La Salle teaching at St. Yon is based on the painting above by Cesare Mariani. The painting was done for the beatification of St. La Salle, which occurred on February 19, 1888. It was presented to Pope Leo XIII and now is displayed in the Vatican. Twelve years later Leo XIII canonized John Baptist de La Salle on May 24, 1900. Pope Pius XII proclaimed him Patron Saint of Teachers on May 15, 1950. Brother Imier of Jesus was present at the canonization.
On August 31, 1705 St. La Salle moved the motherhouse to St. Yon, just outside of Rouen. The former Chapel of St. Yon as it appears today.
Teaching at St. Yon
St. La Salle is teaching at St. Yon in Rouen, as suggested by the Chapel of St. Yon in the background of the window. The photo below shows the chapel as it appears today. St. Yon today is La Cité des Métiers, a career resource center.
The Brothers themselves built the chapel from 1728 – 1734, with the support of the Archbishop of Rouen, to house the remains of the Founder. His body was exhumed on July 16, 1734. It was then moved to the Chapel of St. Yon from the Chapel of St. Susanne in the Church of St. Sever where it had been since his burial on April 8, 1719. During the French Revolution the remains of St. La Salle were desecrated. His relics are now in the Casa Generaliza of the Brothers in Rome, Italy.
There is significant symbolism in these windows, which can easily be overlooked. The churches themselves reflect the central reality of La Salle’s life and work, as related to specific localities, and in the case of St. Peter’s to the worldwide expansion of that work. In this window the dragons, representing the evil beast of ignorance, cannot face the cherubim who are protecting the Seal of the Institute while representing the presence of God. Cherubs also represent the fullness of knowledge. La Salle conquers the evil beast of ignorance through teaching Christian Doctrine, which is symbolized in the window by the crucifix.
North America is on the face of the globe, suggesting the expansion of La Salle’s work to the New World and that these windows were designed for America. The first permanent establishment of the Brothers in North America was in Montreal in 1837. In 1845 the first American Brother, John McMullin, Brother Francis, taught in Baltimore and in 1848 the first Brothers under the leadership of Brother Stylien, arrived from France to teach at St. Vincent de Paul, a French parish on East Canal St. in New York City.
The griffin is a symbol of the dual nature of Christ. It has also been used symbolically to guard rich treasures, in this case the treasure of a Christian education. The garland of garlic represents the protective shield that this education provides against evil.
The sign on the wall says: “You must apply yourself in school to study your lessons.”
James II Visiting Children of His Irish Followers
Catholic King James II of England was defeated at the Battle of the Boyne, July 12, 1690 by his son-in-law, William of Orange. Supported by the French King, Louis XIV, he took up residence at St. Germain-en-Laye near Versailles, France. He asked La Salle to establish a school for the children of his Irish followers. La Salle established the school in Paris in 1700 for the Irish children.
The cathedral in the background of the window is Notre Dame of Paris, the seat of Archbishop Noailles.
This window is in memory of Brother Patrick who was President of Manhattan College 1863-73, Visitor 1866-73 and Assistant Superior General 1873-91. At the request of Archbishop Peter Kenrick of St. Louis he instituted the teaching of Latin in 1853 . This ultimately led to what became known as “The Latin Question.” Despite having received verbal permission from the General Chapter of 1854 to teach Latin, the Chapters of 1894 and1899 insisted on compliance with the Rule against teaching Latin.
First Vows De La Salle
John Baptist De La Salle and twelve Brothers made the temporary vow of obedience for the first time in Reims, probably in 1684 or 1686 (there is some disagreement about the date. See Br. Michele Sauvage and Br. Luke Salm). The Brothers walked 25 miles overnight and the following day they renewed the vow before the shrine of Our Lady of Liesse near the town of Laon. It is here that they stood before Our Lady of Joy and chose her as the first Superior of the Institute. There is a stained glass window (above) and a plaque in the Basilica of Liesse commemorating this event. Brother Gabriel-Marie, Superior General presented the window to the Basilica in 1902.
De La Salle Distributes His Patrimony to the Poor
This window is based on the painting by Giovanni Gagliardi, done in1901 in honor of the canonization of St. John Baptist de La Salle. It depicts La Salle distributing his patrimony to the poor in the harsh winter of 1684 in Reims, France.
It is in memory of Brother Pompian who reintroduced Latin to St. Joseph’s College, later named St. Joseph’s Collegiate Institute in Buffalo, NY in 1893 when it re-opened after a brief closure. Today, there is an honor society named after him at St. Joseph’s.
Nourishment for Body and Soul
In response to the Brothers concerns about their own poverty and to identify with them, St. La Salle distributed his inheritance to the poor of Reims during the severe winter of 1684. At first he fed the poor children in school, but soon lines formed outside the school. When his inheritance was gone La Salle continued to solicit aid in order to feed the poor during that winter.
Republic, awarded to a citizen who did something outstanding to save the people. In this case it points not only to La Salle feeding the poor, but to the spiritual nourishment he provides their souls. This is reflected by the woman in the window touching La Salle’s cloak, reminiscent of the woman in the gospel touching the hem of Jesus’ garment. In the background is the Basilica of St. Remi in Reims where La Salle spent many nights meditating. The sign on the door above the Brothers reads École Chrétienne.
He Receives the Last Sacraments
According to his biographer, Armand Ravelet, “He insisted on being lifted out of his bed, clothed in his surplice and stole, and placed sitting upright in a chair. At the sound of the bell that announced the approach of the priest, he fell upon his knees, and received Communion, his face all aglow with that extraordinary devotion that he so often displayed in the celebration of the Divine mysteries.” This window so beautifully captures that description.
Approbation of the Institute by Benedict XIII
Pope Benedict XIII approved the Rule and the Institute of the Brothers of the Christian Schools by the Bull of Approbation, In Apostolicae Dignitatis Solio, on January 26, 1725. This established the Institute as a religious congregation, granting it the authority to teach Christian Doctrine. “That … they should make it their chief care to teach children, especially poor children, those things which pertain to a good and Christian life,” is the first article of the Bull.
He Receives the Last Sacraments
St. La Salle received the Last Sacraments in Rouen on April 5, 1719. In his spiritual fervor he leaves his sick bed to receive Viaticum. Notice the gentle solicitation of the Brother and the intensity of focus on St. La Salle’s face.
He died at St. Yon in Rouen on Good Friday, April 7, 1719, two days after receiving the Last Sacraments and just about three weeks before his 68th birthday. He was interred in the Chapel of St. Susanne in the Church of St. Sever in Rouen.
In the background of this window are the Notre Dame Cathedral of Rouen and the Abbey Church of St. Ouen.
There are two symbols of griffins at the top of the window. They appear to be guarding a vase with flowers. Could this be a symbol suggesting that Christ, represented by the symbol of the griffin, is protecting the treasure of La Salle’s flourishing life work, realized through the worldwide expansion of the Institute and the role the Brothers play in helping their students live a flourishing life? Notice also, the “green man” symbol, which is seen throughout these windows representing the fullness of life. It is in the ornamentation leading up to the vase of flowers at the top of the window.
The Glorification of De La Salle
July 16, 1734 St. La Salle’s remains were moved to the Chapel of St. Yon, which was built by the Brothers from 1728 – 1734 to provide for his remains.
On the opposite page we see St. Ignatius welcoming St. La Salle to his heavenly seat of glory. An anonymous Flemish portrait of Ignatius in the possession of the south Belgian Jesuit Province, probably painted between 1598 and 1600 may have been the model for the image of Ignatius in the window. Of course Christ the King, along with St. Joseph, the protector of the Institute, the Blessed Mother, the first Superior and John the Baptist his patron saint welcome La Salle into the Kingdom of Heaven.
La Salle is being conducted into paradise by the angels as we look down on the Seine, the Cathedral of Rouen and the Abbey Church of St. Ouen.
Who are these saints welcoming St. La Salle to his seat of glory in the Kingdom of Heaven? As we have already noticed, St. Ignatius of Loyola is inviting him to sit. Just to the left of Ignatius is St. Vincent de Paul. Could that be St. Francis de Sales to the left of St. Vincent?
The first school opened by the Brothers in New York City in 1848 was by invitation of Fr. Annet Lafont of the Fathers of Mercy, a French order. He was pastor of the parish of St. Vincent de Paul, serving the French of New York City. The first Brothers to teach at St. Vincent’s School on E. Canal St. were Brothers Stylien, Andronis, Albien, and Pastoris. Brother Stylien would go on to take part in the development of Manhattan College. Brother Facile authorized him to purchase three acres of land in upper Manhattan to build the college, which later moved north to the borough of the Bronx in New York City.
Fruit symbolizes the bountifulness of Divine Providence.
Brother Joseph, Superior General
Superior General – 1884-1897 His image is in the window Approbation of the Institute by Benedict XIII.
Brother Donatian Joseph
B 1858 – D Nov. 26, 1909 Visitor, NY 1899-1909 (The New York Times in his obituary published November 28, 1909, says he was born in Cleveland, Ohio in 1857 and appointed Provincial in 1897.) Brother Justin, his predecessor, was Visitor up until August 1898 when he was notified to yield his position and go to Paris as a consequence of the Latin Question.
Brother Donatian’s image is in the window Approbation of the Institute by Benedict XIII. The image appears, almost certainly, to be taken from the above photo.
He had such a positive relationship with Brother Imier that they were pleasantly referred to as “Siamese Brothers.” In a 1909 letter, Brother Imier expressed his sense of
indebtedness for all that Brother Donatian had done for him and wondered how to pay back his debts. He wrote: “I really feel ashamed to ask you so many things especially because I owe you so much and you seem to be unwilling to let me pay my debts. Please let me have my bill and if it is not too high I shall try to pay everything. – a thousand thanks for your kindness –Mr. Mazuet intends to ship the stained glass windows very soon…. Try to have them free from duty – steps to that effect should be taken before Land. I think you will be pleased with the work. They tell me it is beautiful.”
Did he express his gratitude by placing Brother Donatian Joseph’s image in the window? It would seem so.
Cherubim represent the fullness of knowledge because they are in the presence of God and contemplate the glory of God more completely; they symbolize the presence of God, as well. Exodus 25: 17-22 describes cherubim on the Ark of the Covenant. “I will meet with you between the two cherubim,” God tells Moses.
Brother Imier of Jesus
He was born January 9,1855 in the Hamlet of Comps in the parish of Inières just outside of Sainte-Radegonde, France. He entered the Institute in 1869 and became Visitor of Moulins, France, August 18, 1896 and then Visitor-Provincial of the USA in 1898 followed by Assistant Superior General in 1907. In 1909 he negotiated the transfer of the windows to Pocantico Hills, NY. He became Superior General from 1913-1923. He died December 26,1927 at Montferrand (Puy-de-Dôme), France and was buried at Athis-Mons Cemetery, just outside of Paris, in the plot with five of his predecessors.
Brother Imier of Jesus seems to have played a significant role in the stained glass windows that were installed in St. Joseph’s, Pocantico Hills. He visited the workshop of Mazuet and Sons in Bayeux, France and reported his observations and the progress on the work by mail to Brother Donatian Joseph in New York. In his February 17, 1909 letter he states: “I have just received the letter of your French secretary about the stained glass windows and sent orders to Mr. Mazuet not to have his poseur in N.Y. before May. About the changes he means that he will need one or two carpenters for fixing the iron bars to the wood frames of the windows – as a rule they are fixed in stone or brick. His mechanic will place the stained glass windows with the help of carpenters that we have agreed to pay – When the contract was signed it was expected that the present windows would be kept as they are fixed inside on the walls.
Afterwards we remarked that the shadows of the frames and bars would spoiled [sic] the work and we decided to remove them. I hope everything will be all right – only it will cost a few dollars more to pay the carpenters for fixing the bars on the window frames.”
Brother Imier was not only concerned for the magnificent stained glass windows, but he took a special interest in the construction of St. Joseph’s Novitiate in Pocantico Hills, New York. As reported in the book The Catholic Church in the United States of America: “Overlooking the lordly Hudson on the one side and the distant stretches of Long Island Sound on the other, the magnificent building, constructed at a cost of a half million dollars, stands as a grand testimony to the inspiring mind of the Rev. Brother Imier, the special representative of the Superior-General of the brothers in the United States.”
Though Brother Imier’s appointment as Provincial Visitor to the United States may have been received at first with some skepticism, it seems he quickly acquired the affection of the American Brothers because of his kindness while being uncompromising with respect to the Rule. One Brother said: “Brother Imier was French and it seemed that this fact could undermine the success of his administration in light of the difficulties caused by the Latin question; but he arrived in the United States with an open mind, without prejudice, without bias. He succeeded perfectly in his mission…”
Archbishop John Murphy Farley
B April 20, 1842— D Sept. 17, 1918 Archbishop of New York – 1902-1918 Archdiocesan Appeal – Jan. 22, 1905 to support the building of St. Joseph’s Normal College at Pocantico Hills, NY
Dedicated St. Joseph’s, Pocantico Hills – October 2, 1906 Affiliated Member of the Institute – 1907 Created Cardinal – November 27, 1911 His image is in the window Approbation of the Institute by Benedict XIII.
Archbishop John Hughes
B June 24, 1797 – D Jan. 3, 1864 Bishop of New York – 1842 First Archbishop of New York – 1850
His image is in the window Approbation of the Institute by Benedict XIII.
Brother Patrick Murphy
B 1822 – D 1891 Invested with the Holy Habit May 15, 1844 President Christian Brothers College, St. Louis 1854-1856 President Manhattan College 1863-1873 Visitor, NY 1866-1873 Assistant Superior General 1873-1891
The window James II Visiting Children of His Irish Followers is “In Memory of Rev. Bro. Patrick” who was born in Nenagh, Tipperary, Ireland. His family came to Canada from Ireland when he was just 3 years old. He entered the novitiate in Montreal and so impressed Brother Facile that he took the young Brother under his wing and Brother Patrick became for Brother Facile, who was the Visitor of North America, his secretary and translator. In 1853 Brother Facile sent him to the Academy of the Christian Brothers in St. Louis, Missouri. At the request of Archbishop Kenrick, Brother Patrick introduced Latin to the curriculum. The Archbishop saw the school with Latin as fertile grounds for priestly vocations and encouraged Brother Patrick to apply for a college charter. In 1854 Brother Patrick explained the importance of Latin to the General Chapter and was given verbal dispensation from the Rule prohibiting the teaching of Latin by Brother Phillip, Superior General. In 1855 he succeeded in acquiring the college charter for Christian Brothers’ College, St. Louis and did the same for Manhattan College, New York in 1863.
Maurice Gleason B 1844 – D 1891 The window Approbation of the Institute by Benedict XIII is dedicated to Brother Famian, along with Brother Josiah and is a gift of La Salle Institute, Troy, NY where both were Directors when it was known as St. Mary’s Commercial Academy and located at Washington and 4th Streets. He was Director there from the laying of the cornerstone on July 14, 1878 until 1888. He died in Augusta, GA in May 1891 and is buried in St. Mary’s Cemetery in Troy. Fr. Havemans celebrated a Solemn High Requiem Mass on May 27, 1891 at Saint Mary’s Church. In 1912 the alumni of La Salle Institute, Troy installed a monument of St. La Salle as a memorial to Brother Famian, Brother Josiah and other Brothers according to Brother Angelus Gabriel in his book The Christian Brothers in the United States 1848-1948. Brother Josiah’s name is not on the monument seen below.
Brother Josiah Garrett Fitzpatrick
B Nov. 23, 1841 – D Dec. 2, 1891, shares the memorial of the Approbation window with Brother Famian. As it was for Brother Famian, so it was for Brother Josiah, the Alumni Association of La Salle Academy, Providence, RI erected a monument for him in 1892 at St. Francis Cemetery, section 11, Pawtucket, RI. He was born in Ireland and came to New York City where he had the Brothers as teachers. He entered the novitiate in Montreal at 17 and received the Holy Habit on December 8, 1858. He was Director of Christian Brothers’ Academy, Troy, NY from 1866 to 1874. He is listed in a report to the Regents of the University of the State of New York as “Fitzpatrick Garret” from Troy, NY as a Trustee of Manhattan College in 1869. He went to La Salle Academy in Providence, RI in 1877 apparently for health reasons and expected to be there for a short time. He remained there until his death in 1891. Angelus Gabriel described him as “Saintly and learned, but gentle and timid, he dreaded to stand before his class, yet so great was his ascendancy over his boys that he was held in veneration by them and was styled ‘the prince of teachers.'” In La Salle Academy, Providence, RI he taught phonography, a form of shorthand, with such enthusiasm that some students would come to study it while on vacation. “Bro. Josiah’s gentleness and loveliness of character have many times been referred to by pupils of his.”
After the funeral services in the Providence Cathedral, Bishop Harkins addressed the congregation. The following are excerpts, which testify to the character of Brother Josiah: “It would, indeed, surprise him more than it surprises you, that any words are said over him for you know how deeply and sincerely humble he was, and you can all recall that if there was anything that he disliked while on earth, anything he sought to escape, it was even the slightest word of praise….
He would be known always as the devoted Christian Brother.
…Young men, you know that if you had to select a model of a teacher you would not hesitate to point out humble Brother Josiah. You know how he gave to you all the treasures of his mind, all the affections of his heart; how he spent for you even his physical force, his strength of body as well as the strength of his mind. Now he lies before us lifeless, in middle age and almost in the prime, not of his physical, but of his intellectual life. He devoted himself to the cause of Christian education….
“I may say that Brother Josiah…was a teacher in the fullest and truest sense of the word. He gave life to the textbook and lent a charm to learning. He lived what he taught, because his life was founded on God. …You know that he seemed to be thinking of you, his pupils, every moment of his life. …We loved him, we admired him and we have a right to praise him…” We now have his name memorialized in these windows because of the love he inspired in his students. He touched their lives.
William Farr B September 8, 1842, Westphalia, Germany
D March 16, 1907, St. Vincent’s Hospital, NY Joined the Christian Brothers in Montreal in May 1856.
In 1861, at the request of Bishop Timon of Buffalo, NY, Brother Pompian, as Sub-Director, along with five other Brothers established a Brothers’ community in Buffalo to provide a much needed education for the youth of the city.
St. Joseph’s College in 1885 affiliated with Manhattan College and became through that association empowered to grant a BA degree, later having to give up college status, becoming St. Joseph’s Collegiate Institute.
Brother Pompian had been at St. Joseph’s for more than twenty years as Sub-Director and, from 1880, Director. He was affectionately called Brother Sub. He taught Math and Science and may have moderated the band, as suggested by an 1876 photo of him with the band (above photo cropped from that photo). He had subsequently become Director of La Salle Institute, 59th St., New York City and was on the Board of Trustees for Manhattan College. A quote from the Buffalo, NY, Catholic Union & Times, April 18, 1907, found on St. Joseph Collegiate Institute website expresses the love of the man and the high esteem in which he was held:
“The classroom was his place of pleasure. No effort was too great in behalf of his boys, as he lovingly called his pupils. School hours did not close for him at the sound of the bell for dismissal. All who had difficulties in their studies would approach without hesitation and found Brother Pompian only too eager to assist them. In fact, the pupils seemed loath to leave. There was no hurrying away from his presence, no eagerness to depart. He possessed a charm of character that drew everyone to him. There was an indefinable something about him that spurred his pupils on to their best efforts. He will always be remembered as a most successful teacher.”
Another quote from the same website: “SJ alum Bishop Quigley to Bishop of Buffalo: We have amongst us one who speaks but little outside of the classroom. … No one in this city today is better known, better loved, than Brother Pompian.’ At the mention of the brother’s name, the students rose en masse and cheered lustily. The Bishop continued: ‘If there is any one here I love, it is him who taught me in my younger days. … I am pleased to know that I will have so good a man to labor with as old Brother Sub.'”
Brother Facile appears in the window
He Offers Children of All Nations to the Holy Family (see page 11-12). The engraving above right looks very close to the photo.
Clearly, Brother Facile was a man of great character and effectiveness. The work of the Brothers in North America greatly expanded under his administration. The following description of him is found in the biography, Mother Mary Rose, Foundress of the Congregation of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary: “Brother Facile, a man of foresight and executive power who achieved, before his death, an enviable reputation for success as teacher, Superior, and builder of institutions, none of which failed. Moreover, according to the testimony of all who knew him, he was ever a humble, edifying Brother of the Christian Schools.”
Most striking about these windows is the story they tell, a story of courage perseverance, and strength of character, but most of all a story of faith, a trust in the inner light, which becomes expressed in those virtues. It is a story of faith, which begets agape, love as St. Paul expresses it in 1 Cor. 13. Interestingly, St. La Salle once said that if he knew what he was getting himself into, referring to the establishment of the Institute and all that it involved, he would have given it up at once. But he didn’t give it up. His faith, his trust in what he saw as God’s guidance in his life, was such that he could open himself to what life presented to him at each moment and respond to it responsibly and with the confidence that it would work out. He lived in the present and, as he saw it, in the presence of God. What was there to fear! This openness to and trust in life enabled that agape, love, which was expressed for him through concern for the poor. In transcending himself, in going out to others, he became a true individual, one man who had a profound impact on the world. This self-transcendence is so beautifully expressed in the window in which he distributes his patrimony to the poor.
So, on one level these windows are the story of St. La Salle’s life and work, but on another level they reveal the inspiration of that life as lived by the Brothers, whose own lives were lived for others. These Brothers embodied perseverance, courage and strength of character, the love that thinks of others before self. The inspiration of one man led to the inspiration of many lives. These windows reflect that inspiration as it was experienced by the students of the Brothers who are memorialized by them in the windows and in other ways. These Brothers represent all the Brothers who dedicated their lives that other lives might be lived to the fullest. May their lives be an inspiration to all those who carry on the Lasallian mission.
Stained Glass Windows – In Memoriam and Donation
From the rear of the former St. Joseph’s chapel at Barrytown, NY:
South 1 – Approbation of The Institute by Benedict XIII and He Receives the Last Sacraments
“In Memory of Brothers Josiah and Famian”
“Gift of La Salle Institute – Troy, New York”
South 2 – Consecration to the Holy Child Jesus
“In Memory of Mary McEvoy Leahy1”
“Gift of James Leahy, Utica, NY”
South 3 – He Offers Children of All Nations to the Holy Family
“In Memory of Rev. Bro. Facile”
No donor listed on the window.
South 4 – The Glorification of St. J. B. De La Salle
No memorial mentioned on the window.
“Gift of the Boys of the Brothers Schools In the District of New York”
North 1 – St. J. B. De La Salle Teaching and First Vows of St. J. B. De La Salle
“In Memory of Rev. Nicholas J. Hughes2
Gift of His Sister”
North 2 – James II Visiting Children of His Irish Followers
“In Memory of Rev. Bro. Patrick”
No donor listed on the window.
North 3 – He Distributes His Patrimony to the Poor
“In Memory of Rev. Bro. Pompian”
“Gift of William F. Sheehan3”
North 4 – The Childhood of St. J. B. De La Salle
No memorial mentioned on the window.
” Gift of the Junior Postulants and the Novices of 1909″
1 Mary McEvoy Leahy was the wife of James Leahy. She died in December 1905. James owned a large laundry in Utica, NY called Benham’s Steam Laundry with James McEvoy. He had attended Assumption Academy, which was a Brothers’ school in Utica. St. Vincent’s Orphanage, conducted by the Brothers, was also in Utica and it may have utilized his laundry.
2 Rev. Nicholas J. Hughes was pastor of St. Mary’s RC Church at Grand and Ridge Streets in NYC for 28 years, appointed in 1881. He died April 19, 1909 at 62 years, not long before the windows shipped to the US. According to The New York Times of April 20, 1909, he “was recognized as one of the ablest executives in the Roman Catholic clergy.” The Brothers taught in the parish school.
3 William F. Sheehan, an alumnus of St. Joseph’s Buffalo and politician, was Speaker of NY Assembly and Lieutenant Governor of NY 1892-1894, died 1917 a multi-millionaire.
This has been a work of love shared by the enthusiasm of the following people, without whose support and contributions this work would not have been accomplished. I wish to thank Brother Augustine Loes, Brother Benilde James Loxham, Brother Joseph L. Grabenstein and the late Brother Luke Salm for their enduring encouragement and support, as well as John Hannaway who has been a partner in the desire to preserve this wonderful Lasallian heritage. My appreciation goes to Joe McMahon for his willingness to share his boundless archival knowledge and to Amy Surak, archivist at Manhattan College. I am most grateful to Robert Pinart and Brigitte Pasternak for sharing their expertise and appreciation of these windows. Of course this work would not be possible if it were not for the work of others from whom I liberally borrowed. I thank them for their efforts. Most importantly gratitude to St. John Baptist de La Salle who has literally changed the face of the world by his steadfast perseverance in following what he saw as God’s guidance in his life, a life which is proof that one person can make a difference.