Scores of parishioners and clergy members gathered Sunday afternoon inside St. Luke’s Cathedral to celebrate the unveiling of a restored multicolored glass window on the east wall of the historic church on State Street in Portland.

The 14-foot-tall Gothic stained-glass Rose Window, marked with hues of bright red, deep blue and gold, depicts the Ascension of Jesus Christ.

The Rose Window was first installed more than a century ago, but over time the window and supporting stone masonry suffered water damage that required repairs. A capital campaign that began last fall raised about $1.7 million, more than enough to pay for the restoration work.

The Very Rev. Dr. Benjamin A. Shambaugh, dean of St. Luke’s, thanked the Episcopal congregation for its patience.

“It has been a long process. People were talking about repairing the Rose Window and wall more than 10 years ago,” Shambaugh told the gathering of about 200 people.

He said the congregation took its role as stewards of the historic window seriously and created a vision that resulted in a work of art that will inspire generations of parishioners. He commended parishioners for taking their time and making sure that St. Luke’s missions in Haiti, where it built a school, and at Camp Bishopswood in the town of Hope, were not neglected at the expense of the Rose Window. Ten percent of campaign donations went to septic system repairs at the camp on Lake Megunticook.

“Haiti and Bishopswood are examples that show that repairing the cathedral’s infrastructure was not about preserving a museum but inspiring a mission, God’s mission in this place,” Shambaugh said.

The Cathedral Church of St. Luke has a long history in Portland. St. Luke’s Parish was formed in 1851. The first St. Luke’s Church was built in 1854 at 669 Congress St. near what is now Longfellow Square.

The first cornerstone of the current St. Luke’s Cathedral at 143 State St. was laid in August 1867. The cathedral was built at a cost of $115,000, or about $2 million in today’s dollars, according to St. Luke’s website. The first service at the State Street church was held on Dec. 25, 1868. The Rose Window was installed in 1898.

The Rose Window contains 37 window pieces, including 24 pinholes that are several inches across, 12 cruciform rosettes, and the central window. The lower 12 pinhole windows contain the names of the 11 disciples who were present at Christ’s Ascension.

Katherine Matzell Frederick, spokeswoman for St. Luke’s Cathedral, said that over the years, deterioration of the window caused significant water damage to the exterior masonry and interior plaster.

The restoration project included the complete disassembly and cleaning of the Rose Window. All of the glass restoration work was done at Phoenix Studio in Portland.

Nathaniel Croteau of Phoenix Studio said each piece of glass had to be thoroughly cleaned. In some cases severely damaged glass was reproduced.

Frederick said that while the Rose Window was being restored, damaged portions of the exterior stone masonry wall were rebuilt and the entire wall repointed.

The “Living Stones” fundraising effort brought in about $200,000 more than the $1.5 million goal for the Rose Window project. Remaining funds will go toward supporting improvements to spaces inside the cathedral, as well as St. Luke’s music program, its religious education program and a new community meeting space.

“It has been a journey of joy that ensures that 150 years at St. Luke’s is only the beginning and that this great cathedral will be here for generations to come,” Shambaugh told the gathering.

During the ceremony, St. Luke’s choir sang several hymns during a Service of Evensong.

Shambaugh led people gathered inside the cathedral in a capital campaign prayer.

At the end of Sunday’s ceremony, the parishioners and project development team who led the Rose Window restoration effort were given a standing ovation.

Parishioners Claire Hammen and John Watson co-chaired the fundraising campaign. Wardens George Cooper and Sam Allen oversaw the project.

Scott Whitaker and David Douglass of Building Envelope Specialists in South Portland served as the project’s architectural consultants, and the Joseph Gnazzo Construction Co. Inc. of Connecticut did the stonework repairs.

Dennis Hoey can be contacted at 791-6365 or at:

[email protected]

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