BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Century old stained glass windows, salvaged from a Catholic church in New England, have a new home in Biloxi.
Our Lady of Fatima church installed the 13 foot windows in its new prayer chapel. The "old school" artistic images are truly inspiring.
"After we had started planning this thing, it became pretty obvious we were going to have something very, very special," said Sheldon McCloskey, who helped oversee the prayer chapel project.
"And indeed, I started telling people that when you walk in here, if I've done my job right, it'll suck the air out of your lungs. And yes, I think that's pretty much been the experience of most of the people who walk in here."
Early in the process, parishioners had a decision to make about the windows.
"The choice between having new ones made, finding old ones or buying plastic windows that sort of look like old style windows. That was our option."
They decided to go with the old and wound up with some real treasures.
The century old stained glass windows were salvaged from St. Joseph's church in Lewiston, Maine. They were created by a renowned German artist named Franz Zettler.
"And what makes these windows so gorgeous is the color that's in them. Zettler was a chemist. He was also an artist. They are priceless. These windows will never be reproduced again. There may be something like them, but the quality, the craftsmanship, the imagery that's on these things, it's just impossible to reproduce now."
"We were fortunate to be able to get them," said Father Paddy Mockler.
"And people sponsored them, so it didn't cost the church anything as such, so that's even better. It's nice to preserve the old. And they're beautiful. And you can't get stuff like that today. The artwork is absolutely magnificent."
Stations of the Cross monuments adorn the walls, and the ceiling was created by local artist Marilyn Gibson.
Combined with exquisite windows, the result is a serene setting for prayer and inspiration.
"Trying to make your life a little bit better by finding the peace that this building helps represent that you can find in Jesus Christ," said McCloskey.
Much attention has been given to preserving these priceless windows.
The prayer chapel has special humidity control, and the outside of the windows are protected by double panes of glass capable of withstanding 145 mph winds.