First round of renovations to the Shrine’s Sacred Heart stained-glass windows completed with your support

"Windows of the Soul"

There’s a popular saying, “The eyes are the windows of the soul.” But windows are the eyes and “soul” of a building. They are the unspoken craftsmanship of the artisans who created them.

Stained glass is an art form that originated more than a thousand years ago, when books were rare and most people were uneducated. For that reason, stained-glass windows served a dual purpose. While admired for their beauty, they also helped to convey graphically the stories of the church and the faith to the illiterate masses. They pointed to God, His love for us, and the divine promises that await those who persevere in their faith.

That’s what the designers of the stained-glass windows at The Miraculous Medal Shrine intended.

What makes the Shrine’s windows unique is that the artistic scenes and symbolism encompass three distinct styles of stained-glass windows:

American Opalescent, Munich, and Gothic Revival. This is most notable given that most churches and shrines only house one.

The Sacred Heart window is the oldest in the Shrine, dating back to approximately 1890. It has hung in the Holy Agony Shrine for more than 146 years.

Over time, moisture has damaged this exquisite work of religious art.

Last fall, the window underwent an extensive restoration process at Beyer Studio right here in Germantown. In March, it was reinstalled to its original spot in the Shrine. This moving image has inspired generations of devoted Catholics to reflect on the sorrowful mysteries. And thanks to your support, it will once again inspire others as it relates the Passion of Our Lord.

Upon entering The Miraculous Medal Shrine, visitors notice the 10 windows in the main body of the church. All of them are American Opalescent stained glass, which was popularized by Tiffany Studios in their windows and lamps at the turn of the twentieth century. Opalescent glass is translucent and has a milky opaqueness that reflects and transmits light. The seams that hold the pieces together are incorporated into the design to make them unnoticeable.

The figures depicted in the windows are graceful; and the scenes are more natural than those portrayed in medieval stained-glass windows. Upon closer observation, it becomes evident that some of the saints are wearing clothing made using drapery glass— glass that, while molten hot, is folded to resemble draped material.

The saints in these stained-glass windows are known for their significant assistance to seminarians:

Saints Agnes, Aloysius Gonzaga, Catherine of Alexandria, Francis de Sales, James, John the Evangelist, Patrick, and Thomas Aquinas.

On the left-hand side of the sanctuary is the Holy Agony Shrine, which houses the Sacred Heart windows.

They are made in the Munich style of stained glass, originated by F.X. Zettler and Franz Mayer. This style combines traditional elements of medieval stained glass with Renaissance artistic techniques. For example, objects that are closest to the viewer are larger than those farther away; and the colors of objects in the foreground are more intense than those in the distance.

Zettler was the first to meld threepoint perspective in stained glass, which adds depth to his scenes. Using larger pieces of glass enabled Zettler’s artists to achieve these techniques masterfully; and our Sacred Heart window exemplifies this. Jesus appears to be stepping toward us with His left hand extending beyond the window.

Across from the Sacred Heart windows are seven Gothic Revival windows made circa 1920. These windows portray 14 scenes from Mary’s life:

These visual stories are arranged with smaller pieces of brilliant, jewel-toned glass in a variety of blues and reds.

This creates a panoply of color and pattern not only in the windows, but in the light that streams through them.

Our shrine also contains two Rose Windows, both of which are modeled after the famous Rose Window in the Chartres Cathedral in France.

They, too, are the Gothic Revival style and contain the strong blue coloring known as Bernardini blue. Mary is at the center of both windows, looking up toward God with her hands in prayer.

In the dome above the sanctuary, seven small, medallion windows represent the Christian virtues of faith, hope, charity, prudence, justice, temperance, and fortitude. The number seven represents the seven sacraments and symbolizes perfection (on the seventh day God rested and blessed His work [Gen 2:2]). These windows are also the Munich style.

In all, the Shrine’s magnificent windows contain some of the finest stained glass seen throughout the world. But they have endured continual exposure to harsh winters and sweltering summers. They are in great need of continued restoration and repair.

Your support has enabled us to complete the first round of renovations.

Your support is needed again today to help us continue restoring our exquisite stained-glass windows — and preserve the “eyes” of Mary’s Shrine for generations to come.

Construction continues on St. Vincent’s Rosary Walk and Our Lady of Knock Shrine

This new holy oasis offers visitors a spiritual journey to pray the Rosary while meditating on the traditional mysteries and the mysteries of the life of Jesus, with Mary, Mother of God, as the intercessor.

Nestled in the heart of historic Philadelphia, the outdoor space includes a Rosary Walk, Meditation Garden, Marian Garden for Children, and Our Lady of Knock Shrine that encourage prayer, solitude, and public sanctuary.

On Monday, October 25, 2021, the Shrine staff and the Vincentians of the Eastern Province, collaborators on the project, broke ground with an outdoor ceremony and blessing. Community members, neighbors, and Marian devotees joined in the official launch of construction.
“The timing seems right for us to physically expand our mission of devotion and prayer to Our Lady,” said Mary Jo Timlin-Hoag, CEO of the Central Association of the Miraculous Medal. “More than ever, we need to recite the Rosary to restore our lives and pay loving respect and veneration to our Blessed Mother, who helps us and brings us peace.”

The centerpiece of St. Vincent’s Rosary Walk is Our Lady of Knock Shrine. It proudly honors the Irish community’s vital contributions to Germantown, the Shrine, and the many neighborhoods of Philadelphia.

One of the more significant additions to the walk is a children’s garden. It supplements the Shrine’s Beyond Sunday™ program of Marian instruction for school-aged children and young adults and provides a space for educational opportunities to understand and pray the Rosary. Children can also plant and learn about the origins of Marian flowers and herbs, which tell the stories of Mary during various stages of her life.

For more information please visit

Saying “Yes” to God

On June 4, a procession of Vincentian Priests and Brothers entered the Miraculous Medal Shrine for the priestly ordination of TRANSITIONAL DEACON Walner Diaz, CM.  

The entrance hymn was Lord, You Have Come to the Seashore. This verse from the hymn was a reminder that attendees were there to witness God’s loving call to the young man to minister as a priest:

“O, Lord, with your eyes set upon me, gently smiling, you have spoken my name.”

The Most Reverend Alfonso Cabezas, CM, Bishop Emeritus of Villavicencio, Colombia, presided over the ordination ceremony.
More than 350 people were in attendance to witness the ordination of Fr. Walner Diaz, CM, as a Vincentian priest.
After the Gospel, Fr. Diaz was called by name to present himself for ordination. And he gave his “yes” to God before a church full of confreres, family members, friends, and laity from Philadelphia, Long Island, and North Carolina.

There were several poignant moments throughout the ceremony. Fr. Diaz’s sister wiped away tears of love from her eyes as her younger brother lay prostrate before the Lord during the Litany of Saints. Everyone’s heart filled with joy as Fr. Diaz said the words of consecration and recited the Eucharistic Prayer for the very first time as an ordained priest.

For Fr. Diaz, as for all our seminarians who have been ordained, it was the culmination of a 10-year journey of discernment, faith, hard work, and trust in God.

Following the liturgy, a joyful reception was held at Central Association of the Miraculous Medal building for all those in attendance to celebrate with Fr. Diaz this wonderful moment in his life.

Fr. Diaz’s first assignment as a priest is Our Lady of Guadalupe, Charlotte, NC.

Please continue to pray for Fr. Diaz and all the seminarians in the USA and in Panama, and ask our Lord to call young men to the vocation of the Vincentians of the Eastern Province.

Beyond Sunday: Your support keeps the next generation’s faith alive

Your generous support helps fund our Beyond Sunday™ programs here at Mary’s Shrine.

These programs provide unique and engaging retreats and pilgrimages that enable youth, young adults, and people of all ages to learn about our Catholic faith and develop a deeper Marian devotion. The programs are held both at the Shrine and virtually to serve the faithful around the globe. 

Two of our Beyond Sunday™ programs are:

Sacramental Retreats for Children This year our First Holy Communion Retreats prepared children to receive Jesus Christ and be truly present in the Eucharist. Our Reconciliation Retreats gave them a fuller understanding of the richness of the sacrament and the opportunity to receive it at the Shrine. 

In addition, our Confirmation Retreats provided young people with the chance to enjoy the beauty and richness of the Shrine and prepare to receive the final Sacrament of Initiation.

Backpack Blessing 

In celebration of Catholic Schools Week 2022 (January 30 to February 5), we brought Mary’s message of the Miraculous Medal to area schools.

The blessing was presented by Deacon James Mahoney with a greeting from Gina Ingiosi, Faith Formation and Outreach Coordinator. It included distributing and blessing Miraculous Medals and presenting each student with a prayer card.

The students were also invested into the Miraculous Medal family. Dozens of schools participated in person and virtually. Students proudly displayed their medals at the event. More than 400 students participated.

Through your support of these and all our Beyond Sunday™ programs, the next generation of Catholics is strengthened in their faith, even while living in a world full of challenges. And through it, they discover peace, joy, and a closer relationship with Mary and her Son.

Welcoming farm workers in South Carolina in faith

In September 2021, a Vincentian priest of the Eastern Province and three Daughters of Charity arrived in Ward, South Carolina, to start a new mission for farm workers.

They were Fr. Orlando Cardona and Sisters Consuelo, Migdalia, and Paula. The
town of Ward is in Saluda County, a sparsely populated area where farming is the
main industry.

The only Catholic Church in the county is St. William’s, a small parish located on a plot of donated farmland. The original church was constructed in a cornfield.

But when Ridge Spring Highway was built about 100 years ago, Catholic families donated a portion of their farmland alongside the highway for a new church.
The St. Williams parish complex has an activities center, rectory, convent (currently under renovation), and several acres of land used for outdoor sports and games.
Since their arrival, Fr. Cardona and the Daughters of Charity have established a pastoral outreach of faith, hope, and charity for farm workers in the area. They conduct home and sick visits, pastoral counseling, house blessings, funerals, organizational skills programs, and spiritual formation.

St. William’s parishioners include:

• Elderly Catholics, who are longtime residents and pillars of the community;
• Hispanic parishioners, families, and workers;
• Individuals and families who work mainly at the chicken farms and
slaughterhouses and primarily live in nearby trailer parks; and
• Contract workers and seasonal farmhands.

With such diverse groups and cultures, Fr. Cardona and the Daughters appreciate the community’s willingness to serve in many capacities such as lectors, ushers, catechists, and Eucharistic ministers.

Fr. Stephen Grozio, CM, provincial of the Vincentians of the Eastern Province, recently visited St. William’s and was overwhelmed by the closeknit community. During his visit, he had the opportunity to celebrate Mass at St. William’s.

“All of those attending were in their seventies or older and most sat in the back pews of the church,” Fr. Grozio said. “[The Daughters and Fr. Cardona] said that when they first arrived, [the parishioners] seemed suspicious and expressed some concern about the growing Hispanic presence there. Apparently, that has been changing due to the work of the Daughters and [Fr. Cardona]. I found them to be very open to their Latino brothers and sisters—a hopeful sign for the future.”

Fr. Grozio is proud of and impressed by the work Fr. Cardona and the Daughters have performed to encourage the congregation to get involved, be bold, and join the Vincentian mission as it evolves.
© The Central Association of the Miraculous Medal 2024