Upon entering St. Peter’s Basilica, facing the visitor, like some sunburst, is the Great Altar. It is spaced majestically beneath Bernini’s massive baldachin, held up by four thick, twisted columns, identical to the ones in Solomon’s Temple—clearly a sign that the typological figures of the Old Testament had come to fulfillment in the immolation of the Lamb upon the altars of Christendom. 

When the eye of the visitor wanders further down beyond the baldachin, it arrives at the resplendent Altar of the Chair, above it a heroic-sized bronze and gold throne which seems to float in thin air. Sealed within it is the actual chair of St. Peter from which he ruled the primatial see of Rome. It is quite mystical in its aura, bespeaking the supernatural authority of the Roman Catholic Church. As the eye moves upward from the Chair, it sets itself upon the alabaster stained glass window of the Holy Spirit. That window announces to the world the great privilege of the Roman Church to enjoy the guidance of that Third Person, guaranteeing the privilege of infallible security in the Truth.

Stained glass windows are an apt lesson for us on this feast of Pentecost. As with all stained glass windows, without external light pouring through them, they appear black and opaque. Light discloses their beauty, colors explode, miraculous persons emerge and an ethereal atmosphere bathes the Church in lessons the tongue cannot express. Such is the magic of light. 

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