Rare Blessed Carlo Acutis stained-glass window installed in Minnesota adoration chapel

FORESTON, Minn. (OSV News) -- During the parish year of the National Eucharistic Revival, one of the oldest adoration chapels in the Diocese of St. Cloud is getting a very special facelift.

Several stained-glass windows are being installed in St. Anne's Chapel at St. Louis Parish in Foreston, including a depiction of Blessed Carlo Acutis, one of the patrons of the revival.

Terhaar Stained Glass Studio in Cold Spring created the windows, including the Blessed Carlo window -- the first known window of the future saint in the diocese and possibly the first in the country.

"I instantly had to look him up on the computer, because I had never heard of him before," stained-glass artist Christi Becker told The Central Minnesota Catholic, magazine of the Diocese of St. Cloud.

The window is one of seven created for the 24-hour adoration chapel. The other windows are of traditional saints, so it was a challenge to create a realistic depiction of Blessed Carlo that also would fit in with the rest of the design of the chapel.

"This window is going to have a little bit of a different feel from the rest of them because my reference was a photograph, not a painting," Becker said.

In the reference photographs, Blessed Carlo wears modern clothes, not like other saints. He also carries a backpack and uses a computer.

"I think the challenge for this window was, how do you make it work within the context of all the other saints? And that was probably the biggest challenge," said David Orton, operations manager of the studio. "I think that Christi came to that conclusion really well."

Some of the funds to pay for the windows came from a parishioner who passed away and left money to the parish specifically for a beautification project. Rita Olson, who coordinates the adoration schedule for the chapel, was among those who suggested the money be used for stained-glass windows in the chapel.

The chapel is near and dear to Olson's heart. Her husband, Randy, built it in 2001 and she has coordinated the adoration schedule ever since.

"I think it will inspire people when they are in the chapel surrounded by the saints," she said. "We're hoping it will even draw more people."

The approximate cost of each window is $9,000 and once they put the word out about the project, more donors came forward.

"I would say that within three months the money was raised," said Father Derek Wiechmann, former pastor of St. Louis Parish, which is part of the Four Pillars in Faith Area Catholic Community. Father Wiechmann was transferred to the parishes of Holy Spirit, St. Anthony and Christ Church Newman Center in St. Cloud in June.

The parish council chose the subjects of the additional windows -- St. Anne, St. Isidore the Farmer, St. Joseph, Sacred Heart of Jesus, Immaculate Heart of Mary and the Divine Mercy. There are also two small windows behind the altar of the Holy Spirit. Father Wiechmann, who serves as co-chair of the Eucharistic Revival for the diocese, specifically requested that one window be of Blessed Carlo.

He said that during his time as pastor of the Four Pillars in Faith ACC, much of his focus was on reaching out to youth. Blessed Carlo is the namesake and patron of the youth group there.

"To have a young saint featured was important," he said. "And he wasn't really featured anywhere else in that context, in a stained-glass window."

Often, we think that we have to go to a far-off place or do something really big to have an impact, Father Wiechmann said. Blessed Carlo used what he had available -- technology.

"As I have been helping out with the Eucharistic Revival, and just in my own time of prayer and learning about Blessed Carlo Acutis, I think we need his example now more than ever," he said.

"He took what he had and really ran with it. And I think that's such a model for us, technology was right there for him and even in the midst of his own suffering with the illness that he had, he never let that fire go out. I think that's what is so exciting about him."

Orton and Becker went together on the first interview with the parish and visited the chapel to get a feel for the space.

"That's one of the key things that, on jobs like this, it's important that we do," Orton said. The visit helped Becker choose the right glass and paints for the intended finished project.

"They've really done everything they can to make that little chapel as special as possible," Orton said.

"I love being able to share the light, literally, sharing divine light," Becker says of her work creating stained-glass windows. "And it's all a gift from God, so you've got to trust it. You've got to have faith. I can't imagine doing this without believing. It's beautiful in so many different ways. And I feel honored to be able to do this work."

It feels really good to be a part of creating this special window of Blessed Carlo, Becker said. "I love being a part of sharing his light."


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