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St. Marys Catholic Church - Art

Most of the pictures you see on this page can be clicked on to show greater detail.

The parish community of Saint Mary’s in Boise has finished the renovation, remodeling and construction of its church.

The planning for this took many years and the actual construction took two years. All who have seen it say it is one of the most beautiful churches they have ever seen.

There is an important theology which has guided all of the art going into the renovation and rebuilding of the church. This is the theology of what it means to be the Church and the role of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the Church.

Over the centuries the church’s devotion to the Mother of Jesus has changed and evolved many times. Early in the life of the Church she was not as prominent as she later became. The Eastern Church first began to emphasize the role of Mary during the fourth and fifth centuries.

Wooden carving of Christ washing the feet of Peter

In the middle ages she took on a vital role in the understanding of the church itself, symbolized by the "Mary Chapel" in many medieval churches. In the time since the reformation she became increasingly separated from central church devotion and was honored for the claim of her many apparitions.

At the Second Vatican Council the bishops of the church chose to reemphasize her role within the context of the Church itself by including the document on Mary in “Lumen Gentium” the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church. This marvelous document positions The Blessed Virgin Mary as an essential part of the Church, and someone who can only be totally understood in the context of the Church.

The new art in Saint Mary’s has been based on the understanding of Mary and the Church from Lumen Gentium. The new pieces of art in the church building are to be understood in the context of Mary as an essential part of the Universal Church, the Body of Christ, the People of God.

The great doors are based on the Book of Revelation story of the Woman Clothed with the Sun, which is called one of the great images or types depicting the Blessed Virgin. The statue of Mary sitting in the pew reflects the image of Mary as part of the Church, part of the community. The great triptych painting shows Mary surrounded by the women saints of the Bible and the Church. Mary is also called the Queen of the Angels and is again symbolized in the Musical Roof angels.

All of this is summed up in the parish symbol, three red roses and a butterfly. The rose as a bud represents Mary as a young girl hearing the words of the angel Gabriel and becoming the mother of Jesus. The middle rose is her life raising Jesus and living with Joseph. The full rose is her life at the crucifixion of her son and in the years afterward.

All of this represents that her life, our lives, and the life of the Church is always ongoing, never static, a true journey. And the goal of the journey of life is eternal life with the resurrected Jesus Christ, represented in one of the earliest artistic forms, the butterfly.

From the beginning of this project we have spoken often of the art which will be an important part of the new church, just as the existing art has been an important part of the old church. But for those of us who grew up as part of the Saint Mary’s family – and I am proud to say I am one of those – there is a love of the old building that goes beyond just nostalgia or memory. There has always been something about praying, worshiping, celebrating inside Saint Mary’s that becomes part of who you are. One of the reasons is the quality of the religious art which has always been part of the church.

Monsignor John Creegan, the founder and pastor for 37 years, had wonderful taste in art and that is reflected in the choices he made, especially considering that many of those choices were made during the depression. Saint Mary’s has always been a poor blue collar parish, but both in the 1937 beginning and during the 1957 renovation of the sanctuary, only items of quality were allowed into the Monsignor Creegan building.

The statues of Our Lady, the Sacred Heart, and Saint Joseph are excellent pieces, as are the stained glass medallions found in the middle of the windows. The Stations of the Cross are the best art in the church, splendid works which cannot be duplicated even today. The altar crucifix is one of the best of the1950's Italian style. The new [2000] picture of our Lady of Guadalupe, installed to celebrate the many Hispanic people moving into the parish, lives up to the Creegan standards. All of these pieces will be restored to the new church and will continue to be part of our spiritual lives.


View of Saint Mary's Church from State Street
Side Chapel

View from back of Church

Main Altar

Tabernacle and adoration area. Original Main Altar

Votive Area for Our Lady of Guadelupe

Container for the Holy Oils



There is a special statue in the second row of pews from the altar.  The theme of this work is taken from the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church of Vatican II, [Lumen Gentium] which called for Mary to be seen as the first person of the church. 

Thus we have Mary seated in a pew of the church, with room for people to come and sit next to her or lay a child in her lap.  This piece is being made by Mr. John Taye, a noted  artist and former art professor at Boise State University.


Our Blessed Mother Mary sitting in the front pew waiting for her children to come be with her in her Son's home.

Fr. Faucher taking a break with Mother Mary
and Mr. John Taye


Carved by J. Chester (Skip) Armstrong
(using chain saws!)

Another art work will be on the beams of the church. One of the most distinguishing features of the old Saint Mary’s are the massive beams which support the roof. These have been replicated in the new part of the church. But these beams now rest on the backs of angels, each holding a musical instrument.

The original style of Saint Mary’s Church comes from an English gothic tradition which had roof angels, Adding these now completes that style for Saint Mary’s.

Another tradition of many such churches is a piece of whimsey. One of the angels has left her violin and bow on the pedestal and is taking a break by sitting up at the top of the church on the cross piece of the beam.

There are ten angels in all, four over the altar holding trumpets, and six along the walls of the church. These will be holding a violin, mandolin, Basque flute, electric guitar, harp, and bagpipes. The angels have also been carved by Mr. Armstrong.


The four Trumpeter Angels that are high above the Altar

Angels Standing over Pews

Missing Angel has flown the "coop"

Ah, There she is, in the rafters taking a break


Triptych of
The Adoration of the Christ Child
By Tom Browning

(To see additional pictures of the Triptych in Tom's site,
click the above link, then click on "Art" , click "St Mary's Mural", and click "Enter")

An artwork commissioned in 2008 by Rev. W. Thomas Faucher
For placement in St Mary’s Church, Boise, Idaho in 2009

A second major artistic piece is an oil painting in a triptych style, which is a central painting with two smaller paintings on each side.  There is a famous painting in this style in Cologne Cathedral. The central panel is ten feet tall and eight feet wide.  The side panels are 10 feet tall and four feet wide.  This overall painting is sixteen feet long and ten feet tall.  The painting is hung over the altar on the brick back wall of the new sanctuary.

The painting  shows the Blessed Virgin holding the Christ child with nine women of the Old Testament and New Testament who precede her on one side and nine women of the New Testament and the church on the other side.

The women preceding Mary in the Bible depicted in the painting are Eve, Sarah, the Queen of Sheba, Rahab the prostitute, Elizabeth, Deborah, Ruth, the Mother of the Sons in the book of Maccabees, and the Widow of Zarathef.  Those of the Bible and the Church coming after her are Mary Magdalene, Conception Cabrera de Armida, Priscilla, Anna, Agnes Le Thi Thanh, Lydia, Teresa of Avila, Sister Thea Bowman, and Margaret Plantagenet Pole.  Many of these are not the most well known saints of women of the Bible or Church, but each brings a distinctive an important story of God’s working in the lives of his people.

The artist for this painting is Mr. Tom Browning of Bend, Oregon.  Mr. Browning is an internationally known award winning portrait artist.  He considers this to be the most important exciting and commission of his career.

As with the famous triptych in Cologne Cathedral, the painting will close during Lent.  On the backside, visible only when the painting is closed will be the crown of thorns and the inscription “INRI” as seen in one of the famous stained glass medallions in both the old and new churches.  This was crafted by famous local artist and Saint Mary’s school graduate Bernie Hart.

The Women Chosen for the Painting


Normally open behind Main Altar

Closed during Lent

The Great Doors
The Triumph of Good over Evil

Carved by J. Chester (Skip) Armstrong
(using chain saws!)

The new narthex or gathering space will be a very large room, formed by one of the present exterior walls of the old school. That will be built in a future phase of construction. Right now there is the temporary narthex. It is here that stand the Great Doors. These have been cared by the well know wood sculptor J. Chester Armstrong, who considers them the summit of his career.

These are large doors, 16 feet tall and 9 feet 4 inches wide carved from Honduran mahogany. The front side is the story of Chapter 12 of the Book of Revelation. This is the Woman Clothed with the Sun, about to give birth, confronting the seven headed dragon, who has just cast a third of the stars from the heavens. Saint Michael arrives to save the woman and begins to slay the dragon. The dragon overlaps the central seam of the door in such a way that when closed the doors will appear as a full panel.

The backside or church interior side of the doors next to the new baptismal font tells the story of Noah’s ark but with animals from the northwest. They carved in 3 to 5 inch relief.

In almost all cultures in history the "door" has always been an important symbol of movement and change. By walking through a door the person is entering into something different. This was very true in Roman culture and major buildings had big massive doors. The Christian tradition picked this up and used doors very well in almost all major churches in both Europe and in the Eastern Empire as well.

The idea of big doors has not been used often in American churches, and Saint Mary’s thought it should be. When we enter into the church we have gone through the battle between good and evil where good wins, and we celebrate the newness of creation in baptism and the ark of Noah.


Doors from Narthex
Doors are ceremonially opened 3 times a year.

Doors from Inside Church

Click Picture for Enlargement of Door Detail


Early Remodeling Construction




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