A blessed dedication

Stained glass artisan Charles Barone, of Basye, stands beside his artwork, which was blessed by Pope Francis during his visit in September. Rich Cooley/Daily

BASYE – Although his works embellish sites like Bond 45 in Times Square, the Richard J. Hughes Justice Complex and Yankee Stadium, there’s one honor that stained glass artisan Charles Barone’s work has yet to receive: the pope’s blessing.

To commemorate Pope Francis’ visit to the U.S., Barone spent more than a year designing and crafting a 3 1/2- by 7-foot stained glass window out of his studio in Basye. He took it to Washington, D.C., earlier this week to be blessed during Pope Francis’ visit today.

The window honors three holy men: Pope Francis, St. Francis of Assisi and Monsignor Walter Artioli, who was pastor of Barone’s home church, Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Jersey City, New Jersey. Although the pope and the monsignor are both of the Jesuit order, Barone said they share key similarities in that they walked in the divine shadow of the saint.

“The Jesuits are known for their education and their knowledge, whereas the Franciscans are known for their love of mercy and their regard for humanity,” he said. “Here, two priests in my lifetime come together and meet with St. Francis in this window, in this dedication.”

His window will be the first work dedicated to Artioli, a man Barone said brought his church out of the Great Depression and always showed a charitable helping hand to those in need. Artioli welcomed young Barone into the grammar school the monsignor opened for the church in 1954. He died in 1986 after retiring from 35 years of serving Our Lady of Mount Carmel.

Charles Barone adds a piece of drapery glass that was recycled from an Episcopal Church in Jersey City, New Jersey, to his stained glass window. Rich Cooley/Daily

Barone began designing the 1,284-piece window last summer, aiming to create an image of St. Francis that was rich in both papal and Franciscan imagery. He said that between the dedication to Artioli on behalf of descendants of Italian-Americans and the commemoration of the pope’s visit are symbols of the Holy Spirit in flight, the prayer of St. Francis, the keys to the kingdom, the alpha and omega, pillars of the church, the crucifix and St. Francis himself among a variety of animals in the dogwoods.

Some of the glass and jewels are recycled pieces from retracted windows of churches and synagogues along the Manhattan corridor that Barone collected over the years. The window includes opalescent La Farge and Tiffany glass as well as Kokomo, Uroboros and Lamberts glasses from Indiana, Portland and Germany respectively.

“This emulates the great style of the cathedrals … mixed with the European style and the American style of Tiffany and La Farge,” he said.

Barone obtained much of the material himself and worked on his own time in between projects, accepting some help gathering resources and transporting his window from retired Congressman Frank Guarini, who knew Artioli personally.

Once Barone completed his work in glass, crystal and lead, he encased the window in a hardwood cherry frame made by Mace Architectural Woodwork and drove it to Washington. 

Charles Barone places a piece of opalescent glass that is part of a banner in his stained glass window. Rich Cooley/Daily

Pope Francis will bless the window as part of his visit to Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Washington today, after his speech to the Senate and House of Representatives and before he leaves for New York City.

After the pope’s visit, the window will travel up to Jersey City for exhibition at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church for the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi on Oct. 4. It will then travel to St. Peter’s College and back to Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington.  Finally, Barone said he will return it to Virginia later in October for exhibition at his home church, St. John Bosco in Woodstock.

“For me to bring this back to that church, and to put his person up there and to give the church something so people can come and visit and see it and put something in their box – that’s what it’s all about,” he said.

Next spring, Barone said he hopes to travel with his family to Rome to see the window off to a permanent new home. Although he said he would be honored to have his work find a home in the Vatican, he said the end location of his gift will ultimately be up to Pope Francis’ discretion.

Contact staff writer Rachel Mahoney at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or rmahoney@nvdaily.com

Charles Barone's stained glass window includes over 1,200 pieces of glass. Rich Cooley/Daily

Barone hand paints letters in ancient brown paint for the window. Rich Cooley/Daily