Shedding light on the church

In honor of its 100th anniversary, Our Lady Star of the Sea Catholic Church in Bremerton will open its doors to give visitors and worshippers alike a tour.

Tours are scheduled for 9:30 a.m. and 12:15 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 3 and every second Sunday afterward.

“This is the first time we’ve done something like this,” Pastoral Assistant Jim Beamis said. “We had our first tours two weeks ago and averaged about eight people in each of the groups.”

Each visitor is given a booklet describing the church history, including its founding in late 1901 and eventual move to its current site at the corner of Fifth and Veneta streets in downtown Bremerton. The booklet also describes the importance of the stained glass windows ringing the walls.

Stained glass windows depicting the life of Jesus and various saints have been adorning churches for centuries. Jesus adorns the north, or Mary, wall, while saints and church decrees adorn the south, or Joseph, wall.

In the mid-’60s, Pope Paul VI issued the Roman Missal which addressed the use of images for veneration.

He decreed that, “in keeping with the Church’s very ancient tradition, it is lawful to set up in places of worship images of Christ, Mary and the saints for veneration by the faithful. But there is need both to limit their number and to situate them in such a way that they do not distract the people’s attention from the celebration.”

Although the current church was built in 1953, it follows Pope Paul VI’s message to the letter.

The saints were chosen by the Rev. Joseph Camerman, who oversaw the church’s construction.

“They tend to reflect the mission and foundation of this parish,” Beamis said.

The saints honored with windows are Joseph, John the Baptist, Pope Pius X, Patrick, John Vianney, Vincent DePaul, Frances Cabrini and Mary Goretti. The wall concludes with images of the assumption of Mary and her coronation as queen of Heaven and earth. All of the windows were created in Italy by New York-based Bernardini Studios.

Beamis said Joseph is given additional prominence because “he was the name saint for Monsignor Camerman.”

A close look at the windows reveals that each frame is heavily adorned with symbols. This centuries-old practice is meant to confer messages to those who might be illiterate.

A rose window on the east end of the church depicts a lamb carrying a banner of victory, meant to represent the triumph of Christ over death.

Another rose window on the west end shows the barque of Peter on rough seas, which Beamis said represents the church facing the reality of life.

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