The main seating area of the church is called the “nave” from the Latin word for “ship”. This is because the arched ceilings of older churches were reminiscent of the hull of a ship. It is also a reminder that the church is the “Ark of Salvation”–a refuge in the stormy seas of this troubled world.
In the floor at the head of the main aisle is the Vertical Axis. This is the point of meeting for those receiving the sacraments of the church. Here a child is confirmed, a couple is married, a priest is ordained, and a coffin comes to rest. The design echoes the cross and four circles representing the gospels.
The Story of the Mosaic
The mosaic inlaid in the floor at the front of the central aisle is not merely decoration. This simple design was on the font salvaged from St. Mary Morning Star and is replicated on the pew ends and serves as the logo for the parish.
Fr. Longenecker relates the story of the mosaic: “We were on a parish pilgrimage to the Holy Land when we visited a mosaic workshop in Jordan. I remembered that the builders said the best mosaics come from Jordan. So I showed the owner of the mosaic workshop a picture of the Lamb of God on the front of our altar. He said, ‘Yes. We made that here in our workshop.’ On leaving he said, “Father, if you need more mosaic, we’ll give you a good price!”
A year later we commissioned this mosaic from his workshop in Jordan for our new church. It is beautiful to think that this craftsmanship comes to us from the Holy Land.
A unique feature of the church is the “gospel square” half way down the central aisle. The figures of the four evangelists were inspired by ancient Celtic artwork and created by local artist Jim Craft.
Heaven Meets Earth
At the high mass on Sundays the deacon will process from the sanctuary (heaven) down among the people (on earth). This procession represents the descent of Jesus Christ in the incarnation. At the gospel square the deacon reads the gospel.
At each corner the traditional symbols of the four gospels are shown. The angel for Saint Matthew, the Lion for Saint Mark, the Ox for Saint Luke, and the Eagle for Saint John. These symbols are drawn from St. John’s vision of heaven in the Book of Revelation-echoing the vision of the prophet Ezekiel.
“And before the throne there was a sea of glass… and round about the throne, were four beasts… And the first beast was like a lion, and the second beast like a calf, and the third beast had a face as a man, and the fourth beast was like a flying eagle.” Rev. 4: 6 -8
The symbol of St. Matthew is the winged man or angel. Reminding us of the inspiration of God’s word to the human authors of Scripture.
The winged lion is the symbol of the evangelist St. Mark. The lion is a reminder of Jesus Christ, the Lion of Judah and the Royal King of Kings.
The winged Ox reminds us of the ox in the stable of Bethlehem and also the passage where Jesus points to the oxen and says, “take my yoke upon you for I am meek and humble of heart.”
The eagle has been the traditional symbol of St. John because the noble theology in his gospel “soars up to heaven.”
The Offertory Procession
The procession at the beginning of Mass is a reminder of the entrance into God’s presence. As the servers and clergy enter, we enter into God’s house with them. The offertory procession is the sign that our offerings are being brought forward to be joined with the sacrifice of the Mass presented on the altar of God.