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Shanghai Cathedral Restoration in Progress

Since 2001, Jesuit artist Tom Lucas, S.J., has served as project consultant on the design, iconography, and technique involved in the restoration of the stained-glass windows in Shanghai’s St. Ignatius Cathedral. His participation is funded in part by the California Province Office of International Ministries.

Lucas, who is professor of visual arts and performing arts at the University of San Francisco, reports that work is proceeding steadily on the restoration involving 3,000 square feet of stained-glass panels.

“The first phase of work is now complete,” says Lucas. “Eleven chapels surrounding the cathedral’s nave now have stained glass again for the first time since the Red Guards destroyed all the cathedral’s windows during the Cultural Revolution,” Lucas explains. “In all, about 170 panels have been installed so far. They show 44 scenes from the life of Christ, along with Chinese text and symbols that relate to the Gospel story.”

Theresa Wo YeThe new windows were designed by local artist Teresa Wo Ye and executed by three religious sisters of the Shanghai diocese whom Lucas taught stained glass techniques. The windows represent the first phase of a five-part project which seeks to restore to its former glory the church which once served as the Shanghai headquarters of the Jesuits.

The biggest phase of the project entails 30 very large window groups that run around the entire top level of the French gothic-style structure built in 1910. “These tall windows will incorporate elements of traditional Chinese flora, including bamboo, magnolia, peony, and wisteria, to create a kind of ‘celestial garden’ motif,” Lucas explains.

The team hopes to complete work by 2010.

Click here to read more about the Jesuits in China.

"The tragic beauty of the face of Christ shines in the face of man."
Daniel Berrigan, S.J.