|SYMBOLISM IN THE BUILDINGS OF ST. ROBERT BELLARMINE PARISH|
|LET US GIVE THANKS FOR FAITH AND FREEDOM|
ST. ROBERT BELLARMINE CHURCH
133 North Fifth Street Burbank, California 91501
Rev. Paul F. Seday,Pastor
Colonial architecture reminiscent of historical places dominates the entire complex of St. Robert Bellarmine parish. It was chosen by the Very Reverend Monsignor Martin Cody Keating, pastor from 1930 to 1967, an ardent patriot, to stress the American way of life as described by the founders of our country.
Individuals, families, or groups are invited to a self-guided tour to become better acquainted with, to be inspired by, and to appreciate the many beautiful and unique symbolisms in the parish buildings.
The tour begins in front of the church at Orange Grove and Fifth Streets. Only highlights are pointed out -- the information is not all-inclusive.
ST. ROBERT BELLARMINE CHURCH
St. Robert Bellarmine Catholic Church, dedicated on September 17, 1939, was formerly known as the Holy Trinity Parish. The dedication date was chosen because it was the 318th anniversary of the death of St. Robert Bellarmine and the 152nd anniversary of the signing of the Constitution of the United States.
St. Robert Bellarmine, 1542-1621, was a Jesuit and an Italian Cardinal whose views, expressed in his writings, agreed in many aspects with the views of Thomas Jefferson. 1743-1826, the author of our Declaration of Independence, and later President of the United States.
Facade of the Church. The facade of the Church resembles the facade of Monticello, the home of Thomas Jefferson, and was designed by him as typically American.
The Tower. The tower resembles In-dependency Tower in Philadelphia.
Plaque. On a plaque beneath the point of the roof, in terra cotta, are the features of St. Robert as they appear on his official medal authorized by the Pope.
Front door. The door is similar to that of the Gregorian University in Rome, of which Robert Bellarmine was president. The coat of arms of Cardinal Bellarmine appears about the door. At the top corners above the door are found the American eagle and the shield of the United States guarding the Cross and the Ten Commandments, symbolizing American protection of religious liberty and individual rights.
The flagpole. At the base of the flagpole is a bronze plaque with symbols holy to both Jew and Christian – the six pointed Star of David and the Cross. Inscribed is an excerpt from the Declaration of Independence; “All men are created equal. They are endowed by their Creator with unalienable rights.”
The design of the Star of David and the Cross is used many times throughout the buildings of the parish, symbolizing the unity of the Judaic-Christian traditions.
(Now step inside the front doors.)
North Window. This stained glass window pictures St. Frances Cabrini. She was the Italian nun who blessed the San Fernando Valley by living here while she founded the Cabrini Villa for girls in the foothills, to the north, above Glenoaks Boulevard.
Panels on the door. Two panels or "handboards" affixed to the centers of the doors are preserved from the original mahogany doors of the old Holy Trinity Church. Mother Cabrini attended the old church and her hands touched the panels as she pushed the doors open when she came to Mass.
Baptismal font. The font is modeled after the one in which Pope Pius XII (formerly Cardinal Eugenio Pacelli) was baptized.
South Window. This stained glass window pictures St. Elizabeth Ann Seaton, 1774-1821, the first native-born American nun to be canonized.
Portrait. The official portrait of St. Robert Bellarmine hangs here. (Walk down the main aisle of the church.)
The Main Nave
Statue of St. Robert. In an alcove on the left side of the church is a statue of St Robert. The chair is an exact replica of his throne chair which can still be seen in his titular church in Rome. On his lap he holds a book. Words inscribed on the open book are these, "Political right is from God and necessarily inherent in the nature of man."
The statue was presented to the church on the tenth anniversary of the visit of Cardinal Pacelli to Burbank.
Stained glass windows. Most of the stained glass windows have been added, gradually, to beautify the church and to commemorate special saints. Many were presented in memory of parishioners who have died.
The third window from the front on the left side honors Pope John XXIII.
The second window from the front on the left side tells the story of Cardinal Pacelli's visit to Burbank in 1936. Cardinal Pacelli was Papal Secretary of State at that time. The Cardinal was met at the Lockheed Airport by the Bellarmine Jefferson Guards - a name used to designate the boys and girls of St. Robert's Grammar School. He blessed the Guards and became the honorary chaplain of the First Company. Among the persons represented by the figures in the window are St. Robert Bellarmine, the Cardinal, local clergy, a BVM sister, and boys and girls of the school.
The two round windows over the side altars are dedicated to two founders of the Society of Jesus - the Jesuits - of which order St. Robert Bellarmine was a member. The two are St. Francis Xavier, 1506-1552, and St. Ignatius Loyola, 1491-1556, who was president. The chief work of the Jesuits, the "Soldiers of Christ," was and is missionary and educational work.
(Pause in front of the Sanctuary)
The SanctuaryStained glass windows . The first two windows to be installed are directly over the sanctuary on either side. One, “The Annunciation,” shows the Blessed Mother giving her consent to be the Mother of the Redeemer. The other, “The Agony in the Garden,” shows Jesus praying in the garden the night before he was crucified.
The altar. The Sistine Chapel in Rome was the model of the original high altar. The background was redesigned when the altar was moved to face the people. The altar table is Vermont marble. The carving of the crucifix on the front is a Jesuit design and a tribute to St. Robert's religious community.
Candlesticks. The large candlesticks are mahogany reproductions of the brass candlesticks on the altar of St. Robert's Church in Rome.
Blessed Mother's Altar. A reproduction of the original miraculous image known as "Our Lady of Guadalupe" or as the "Madonna of the Americas" was created by a Mexican artist, Candelario Rivas, for St. Robert's church. In size and color it is like the original that hangs in the Shrine of Guadalupe in Mexico City. The legend is that, in 1531, a humble Mexican Indian boy, Juan Diego, had a vision of the Virgin. He carried roses in his shawl to her. When he opened his shawl he found her imprint on the mantle. The image is believed by many to be the only authentic likeness of the Mother of God. The Virgin of Guadalupe is now the official protectress of the people of Mexico.
St. Joseph's Altar. The painting above the altar is said to be the first attempt to portray Our Lord as an adult carpenter and to use such a painting on St. Joseph's altar. It is known as "Christ the Worker" or "Christ the Laborer." It was created by Mr. Rivas.
Bronze Plaque. On the side wall next to St. Joseph's altar is a plaque presented after the death of Monsignor Keating by Temple Beth Emet, because of his friendship for the Jewish community.
(Walk down the aisle to the door, noting)
The stations. The stations were also created by Mr. Rivas.
The paintings. On the back wall hang three paintings - the "Assumption" and two "Madonnas." These are very old and a legacy from a Pasadena family.
(On Fifth Street look across at the Grammar School)
ST. ROBERT BELLARMINE GRAMMAR SCHOOL
In 1936 the St. Robert Grammar School opened with grades 1-4 and 88 pupils. The school was the original Holy Trinity Church remodeled into four attractive classrooms. The school has since grown to eleven rooms and office facilities, with grades K-8 and 310 pupils.
In architecture it resembles the buildings behind the main house at Mount Vernon.
Commemorative plaques. Two commemorative plaques, in colored tile, are mounted on either side of the main entrance. One depicts the occasion when Mother Cabrini said to Father O'Neill, then pastor, “Father, the mountains remind me of home." The other plaque relates to the dedication of the new church of September 17, 1939, and feature likenesses of Bellarmine and Jefferson.
(Walk across the street to the Courtyard of the school)
The grotto. The grotto is at the north end of the courtyard and was built in 1936. Girls, members of the Sodality of the Blessed Virgin Mary, collected rocks from nearby hillsides as a Sunday activity. Parishioners helped in the construction.
The mural. The mural of Early California Missions was painted a few years ago by the mother of one of our sisters. It beautifies the school grounds and fosters pride in the spiritual side of California's beginnings.
The flagpole. The flagpole is exactly like the flagpole in front of the church. Opening ceremonies are held here every morning before school by the Guards, who are pledged to guard the spiritual values of America.
THE PARISH CENTER
The Parish Center, extending back from the school, is one of the two new buildings of our parish complex.
(Walk down Fifth Street to Olive, noting:)
Built in 1967, and modeled after Mount Vernon, our three resident priests live here.
East wall of the high school. A quote from Jefferson is recorded on this wall:
"Adore God. Reverence and cherish your parents. Love your neighbor as yourself and your country more than yourself. Be just. Be true. Murmur not at the ways of Providence.”
The Corner-stone. Note the cornerstone at Olive and Fifth.
(Cross Olive. The buildings are best viewed from across the street)
BELLARMINE JEFFERSON HIGH SCHOOL
As with the other buildings many years of American history are built into the architectural design of Bellarmine-Jefferson High School. The school was named after both Robert Bellarmine and Thomas Jefferson to express commonly held ideals of both.
The corner-stone of the first wing was laid in 1945 and an addition completed in 1950. The Auditorium was added in 1954 and the Gymnasium in 1982.
The Main Building
The facade. The facade is modeled after Independence Hall in Philadelphia where the Declaration of Independence was signed. The bricks used on the exterior walls conform in size and color to those used in the original structure.
The clock tower. Raising high into the sky is a clock tower that can be seen for many blocks. The hands are permanently set. The side of the clock facing east is set for 8 pm to commemorate the signing of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776. The side of the clock facing west is set for 4 pm, the hour that the Constitution of the United States was signed on September 17, 1787.
Medallions. There are two medallions near the roof, one on each of the extreme ends of the buildings. The likenesses are, one of Bellarmine, and one of Jefferson.
The front door. The doorway beneath the clock tower opens into a rotunda.
Plaques. On either side of the doorway are plaques representing St. Peter and St. Paul, the crucifix, and the coat of arms of Pope Pius XII.
The auditorium was named St. Eleanor Hall in 1980 after Sister M. St. Eleanor Flynn, BVM, long-time principal of the high school.
The exterior. The exterior of the auditorium is modeled after the Library of the University of Virginia which was founded and co-designed by Thomas Jefferson in 1785.
Thirteen steps bearing alphabetical letters and representing the original thirteen colonies lead up to the entrance. (Recross Olive and enter the front door)
The Rotunda. Inside the front door, the rotunda duplicates the foyer, stairway and balcony of Independence Hall. Enshrined as a focal point is a full scale model of the Liberty Bell embossed with the words, "Proclaim liberty throughout the land unto all the inhabitants thereof."
A large copy of the Declaration of Independence hangs on the right wall.
(Walk down the main hallway, to the left, and enter the auditorium)
The interior. Details on one inside wall repeat the floor plan of Independence Hall. Here is a ceiling-high alcove similar to the spot where Jefferson sat to sign the Declaration of Independence.
Above the door on the other side and leading to the courtyard is a picture of Sister Mary St. Eleanor. On this wall also are likenesses of Bellarmine and Jefferson, and the Seal of the United States. (Step into the courtyard)
The Gymnasium. Note the Martin Cody Keating Memorial gymnasium to the left.