Stained glass is an ancient art, dating to the time of the Phoenicians, the Egyptians, and the Romans. Throughout history, stained glass has been used extensively in churches and other holy places to give honor and glory to God, to remind the faithful of God’s wonder and majesty, and to pay respect and honor to those who have served Him well.
The symbolism of stained glass is striking. The materials used for coloring are from the earth. Iron, sulfur, copper, cobalt, and many other common minerals are incorporated into the developing glass, and when heated their rich color and hues give the glass its character and brilliance. We, God’s children, are “of the earth,” and, like minerals, are enriched by Him. The colors of stained glass are symbolic. Green is the color of nature, rebirth, growth, and vitality. Purple is love, truth, passion, and suffering. White is purity and innocence.
The illumination of the art is by direct sunlight, coming from above, just as God’s light transforms us. Without the presence of light, the window is expressionless and dull, appearing as a deformity. But when the light shines through, the display becomes one of great brilliance and majestic beauty.
Stained-glass art is constructed by humans, using their God-given talent and creativity to give glory to the ultimate Creator. The artists’ creations last through the ages, leaving an enduring testimony to the beautiful use of their God-given gift.
St. Patrick’s Church has been endowed with some very beautiful and inspirational stained-glass windows. Created a century ago, they still inspire peaceful contemplation and reflection. Memorialized in our church are a variety of popular saints, and lesser-known Augustinian saints and holy ones-the Order of St. Augustine has been entrusted with the pastoral care of the parish almost from the very beginning. Together, with the three archangels, the saints of the stained-glass of St. Patrick’s inspire and motivate us to a better, holier life.
Amazingly, the stained-glass windows which so beautifully and fittingly adorn the high walls of St. Patrick’s were not made far away, but right here in the neighborhood. A small workshop at 3116 El Cajon Boulevard was the studio of a very gifted artist, Fred Wieland. It was he who designed and created the masterful window works which continue to delight and inspire us to this day.
Born in Wurzburg, Germany on March 14, 1889, Mr. Wieland immigrated to the United States in 1903 and became a naturalized citizen nine years later. He served in the U. S. military during World War I. His formal art education was at The National Academy of Design and Art in New York City, where he studied for four years. In 1923 he relocated to San Diego and established his business, which specialized in stained glass, but also included murals and other art displays.
In addition to the beautiful and historically detailed pieces he created for St. Patrick’s, Mr. Wieland’s work also brightens many other churches and buildings in the area: St. Joseph’s Cathedral, St. Didacus Church, St. James By-The-Sea Episcopal Church in La Jolla, First Presbyterian Church, and Park Boulevard Methodist Church. Mr. Wieland’s very impressive array of nautical-themed works line the chapel in what was once the Naval Training Center, which is now Liberty Station.
Fred Wieland’s pieces, as seen in St. Patrick’s windows, were not only aesthetically beautiful, but they captured the essence of the individual portrayed and the time in which they lived. Intricate in detail, they will resonate for many years to come.
Mr. Wieland died in San Diego on June 26, 1967, at the age of 78.