Three Guys in the Window
As seen from the front of the Newman Center, they are . . .
As seen from the front of the Newman Center, they are . . .
John Henry Newman
Nineteenth century Englishman John Henry Newman was a convert to Catholicism from the Church of England. He distinguished himself as an avid writer and ardent advocate of Catholic education. One of his great gifts to the Church was his prowess in discussing the interplay between academics and theology, between faith and reason. It is for him that the Catholic presence on state university campuses was named. When he became a cardinal, he chose as his motto "Cor ad cor loquitur," heart speaks to heart. This motto appears in the easternmost window on either side of the Cardinal, in Latin and the English translation. Cor ad cor loquitur would later be adopted as the motto of the International Newman Club Federation.
The first Newman Club began in 1893 when, just three years after Cardinal Newman's death, Timothy Harrington started a Catholic student organization at the University of Pennsylvania, modeling it after the Catholic student organization he was part of at the UW-Madison.
In this window, Cardinal Newman is flanked by two buildings. On one side is an image of this Newman Center which bears his name. On the other side you can recognize the administration building of the University of Wisconsin - La Crosse, Graff Main Hall. Cardinal Newman stands between the two representing the bridge between the world of academia on a state college campus and the Catholic home for students studying there. It also serves to remind us of Newman's ability to engage conversation between science and religion, a still a popular subject on campus today.
It is not lost on many that the avenue separating the two institutions is called State Street.
Cardinal Newman is seen holding an open book and a quill pen calling attention to his scholarship and the prolific body of his written theological works.
On September 19, 2010, Cardinal Newman was proclaimed "Blessed" by Pope Benedict XVI. The title of Blessed is given as the second to last step of the process that leads to canonization as a saint of the Catholic Church. The Church celebrates his feast day on September 24.
Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli
Roncalli is the surname of the man who would be St John XXIII - Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli. He was the pope from 1958 - 1963 and is known for having called the Second Ecumenical Vatican Council (Vatican II) that forever changed the Catholic Church in the modern world. It was on the heels of his papacy, and near the end of the Council in 1964, that the Roncalli Newman Center was built. Plans for the new student chapel and fundraising for the building had begun nearly a decade earlier.
In our window, the Pope is seated on a raised platform wearing the traditional white cassock and fascia (sash), the white zucchetto (skull cap) and the red mozzetta, (the elbow length cape). The white of his garments signify innocence and charity while the red signify compassion. As the Bishop of Rome, St. John XXIII also has his pectoral cross, a sign of his ordination and consecration as a bishop. All bishops wear one. The Pope's right hand, when seen from the outside, is raised in blessing, revealing also his papal ring, the Fisherman's Ring.
The inscription in this window is a quote from Robert Frost: "The woods are lovely, dark and deep, but i have promises to keep and miles to go before I sleep." The association of this poem and this Pope is ambiguous.
Some speculation: it was during this papacy that the United States elected its first Roman Catholic president. At John Kennedy's inauguration, Robert Frost recited his poem "The Gift Outright." Later, 1963 would witness the death of Kennedy, Frost and Roncalli.
In 1963, the Newman Club held a name-the-Newman-Center contest. The rules established by Msgr. Wagener called for "a Catholic layman who was a saint and scholar who has contributed in some fashion to Newman or the advancement of Catholic thought in higher education.'' Angelo Roncalli hardly met any of the condition.
Pope John XXIII was canonized April 27, 2014 by Popes Francis and Benedict XVI. His feast day is celebrated on October 11, the anniversary of his opening of the Second Vatican Council.
Sir Thomas More
Sir Thomas More was a 16th c English scholar, lawyer and statesman, a counselor to King Henry VIII and Lord High Chancellor of England. The Lord High Chancellor is the second highest ranking of the Great Officers of State. Thomas More was a very important and influential figure; until he dared to defy the sovereign, King Henry.
St. Thomas More opposed the Protestant Reformation, in particular the theology of Martin Luther and William Tyndale. He opposed the King's separation from the Catholic Church, refusing to acknowledge Henry as the Supreme Head of the Church of England and the annulment of his marriage to Catherine of Aragon. After refusing to take the Oath of Supremacy, he was convicted of treason and beheaded.
The symbolism of this window to the west includes a lamp of knowledge or education placed atop three books, "Science", "Humanity" and "Religion." The large medallion with embellished chain signifies his position as Lord High Chancellor. The sword the young More holds is the instrument of his holy death.
The inscription in the window is said to have been his dying words: "I die the king's good servant, but God's first."
Pope Pius XI canonized Thomas More a saint in 1935 as a martyr for the faith. Pope John Paul II, in 2000, named him Patron of Statesmen and Politicians. His feast day is June 22.
So, why does St. Thomas More have a window in the Newman Center Chapel? According to sources within the diocese, then Newman Club chaplain, Msgr. Anthony Wagener was keen on the idea of naming the new Catholic Student Center in honor of Thomas More. The window was in anticipation of the St. Thomas More Newman Center.
However, the Bishop has the last word on naming rights.
Having convened the Second Vatican Council, Pope John XXIII did not live to close the Council. He died the year before the Newman Center was dedicated. Then bishop, John P. Treacy chose to honor, instead, the memory of the late Pope by giving the new Newman Center his surname, Roncalli.