Tuesday, January 5, 2010

The Sacred Heart of Tampa

In my travels the other day, I took a friend by two beautiful churches in the Tampa/St. Pete area. The first was St. Mary, Our Lady of Grace, which I posted on the other day; the other church was Sacred Heart in downtown Tampa. Below is part of the history of the church from their website. Churches like these certainly make you proud of your Catholic heritage. I think the pictures say it all.

Tampa began to boom with the arrival of Henry Plant’s railroad in 1884 and his Tampa Bay Hotel (now the cornerstone of the University of Tampa) in 1891. In 1897, pastor Fr. William Tyrrell, S.J. announced that a new church would be built. Ground was broken for our present church on February 16, 1898. The beautiful new structure was dedicated on January 15, 1905, and its name and that of the parish became Sacred Heart.

The Jesuits built the church - at a cost of $300,000 - and named it Sacred Heart. Today the building looks strikingly similar to the original, which was dedicated and opened January 15, 1905. The Romanesque architecture remains. The exterior is a combination of granite and white marble. Inside, most of the design is just as it was a century ago.

Stained Glass Windows
The church has 70 stained glass windows, but the 17 vertical windows lining the nave, anchoring each side of the transept and rimming the apse, are the most dramatic. All were made in the late 1800s by Franz Mayer Co. of Munich, Germany, which is still in business.

The Resurrection Window on the left side of the transept (the part of the church representing the arms of the cross) is a triptych, with three panels. Like the other major windows at Sacred Heart, it tells a story.

The center panel presents the risen Christ, triumphant over death. He floats over the tomb, carrying a heavenly banner, his right hand raised in a benediction. An angel alights beneath him, gazing at the stunned soldiers who guarded his tomb.

The two smaller panels record incidents preceding this apotheosis, one of the Virgin Mary in blue, with Mary Magdalene and Martha approaching the tomb, and the other of two soldiers fleeing as it opens.

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