Church Art Treasures
The visual arts are an integral part of any church and St. Olaf is no exception. In describing visual arts at St. Olaf’s, we include many types: paintings, icons, sculpture, photographs, stained glass, and liturgical vessels — many of which are shown below. It is incumbent upon the administration to work to support and maintain those objects d’art in place as well as acquiring new and additional works to complement the existing collection. With these needs in mind, we have created the “St. Olaf Fund for the Visual Arts.” Donations will be sought within and outside the parish membership. Special gifts, memorials and bequests will be sought to grow the fund. To make a donation to the St. Olaf Catholic Church Fund for the Visual Arts, contact the Parish office at 612-332-7471.
(1) The St. Olaf Bell Tower: The nine bells, founded in 1882 by Meeneley Bell Works of Troy, New York, have survived two fires. Each time, they were replaced in their new steeple. The 5000-pound, 36-foot stainless steel cross was installed in October, 1954.
(2) Statue of St. Olaf: The wooden statue of St. Olaf, patron saint of Norway, was originally placed at the top of the retable in the original church. After surviving the 1953 fire, it was cleaned and placed at the main entrance to the complex. The statue depicts Olaf in medieval dress, with a crown signifying his kingship, and an axe, the instrument of his martyrdom.
(3) The Choirboys: The carved walnut choirboy friezes were part of the organ screen in the original church. They, too, survived the fire, which only slightly singed their toes. These panels are installed in the vestibule of the church.
(4) Sorrowful Mother: A replica of the head of Virgin Mary, taken from Michelangelo’s Pieta, graces one of the ambulatory alcoves.
(5) St. Anthony of Padua: The frieze of St. Anthony recalls the origins of Minneapolis when the Nicollet Avenue bridge connected the village of St. Anthony with the city of Minneapolis. The artist is Bernard Schmidt of Covington, Kentucky. It was fabricated, unveiled and blessed in the summer of 1981.
(6) Mother of Compassion: This icon was commissioned by the parish, and painted by Sr. Mary Charles McGough, OSB, of Duluth, Minnesota. It was installed in the chapel in December, 1994.
(7) Way of the Cross: The Way of the Cross in the chapel is unique in two ways. The “way” is continuous, rather than separated into different stations. Also, a separate, fifteenth station is added for the Resurrection. Installed in 1981, it is also the work of Bernard Schmidt of Covington, Kentucky.
(8 & 9) The Side Chapels: The statues in the two side chapels are a matched set of carved wood. The stained glass windows in each chapel are coordinated with the dedication to Mary and the Sacred Heart.
(10) The Stations of the Cross: The Stations, adorning the pillars of the church, are also designed by Bernard Schmidt of Kentucky.
(11) The Lively-Fulcher Organ: Lively-Fulcher Organbuilders of Alexandria, Virginia was chosen to build the new organ, which was installed and completed in 2001. The instrument has 61 stops and 67 ranks. The casework, constructed of African mahogany, is inspired by the contempary architecture of the room and has simple Scandinavian design elements, yet a firm traditional layout.
(12) The Sanctuary Furnishings: Initially designed by sculptor Michael Price and fabricated by Richard Helgeson, the sanctuary furnishings are free-standing and moveable.
(13) Stained Glass: Starting in 1972, stained glass windows were installed throughout the Church. Designed by Robert Leader, from the University of Notre Dame, and fabricated by Reinarts Art Glass Studios in Winona.
(14 & 15) St. Botvid and St. Catherine: St. Botvid, a layman who converted to Christianity while in England, spent years of his life bringing faith to others in his native Sweden and died a martyr. St. Catherine, the daughter of St. Bridget of Sweden, concentrated on religious works after her husband died. Originally placed on either side of the altar in the lower church, both statues are now located at the front of the church on the balcony level.
(16) Mary’s Gift: Created in silk by artist He Qi of Roseville, Minnesota, the painting is located in the Forliti Gathering Room.
(17) Creation: From the St. John’s Bible. In memoriam, Greg Brombach.
(18) Beatitudes: From the St. John’s Bible. In memoriam, Tom Dahl.
(19) Crucifix: The crucifix was designed and sculpted by Charles Gagnon of Rochester, Minnesota. It is mounted in the Forliti Gathering Room foyer.