Featured Windows, January 2006
St. Philip Neri Catholic Church
Building: St. Philip Neri Church
City: Reed City
Established in 1880, St. Philip Neri Catholic Church erected its present building in 1961. Its six stained glass windows, designed by Minnesota artist Dieterich Spahn, were installed in 1991. Over twelve feet in height, they represent biblical stories from the Old and New Testaments. Below the hand of God in the Creation Window at the upper left are the sun, moon and stars of the heavens and the birds, animals and fish of the earth; a tree entwined with a serpent symbolizes man's fall from grace. The next window represents God's test of Abraham's faith by asking him to sacrifice his son Isaac, but an angel stays his hand, symbolized by the knife through the rope and the substituted ram. At the bottom of the Exodus Window, God speaks to Moses through the burning bush; above are the angel with Moses at the crossing of the Red Sea and the Ten Commandments. The window at the lower left
depicts the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove descending with the seven gifts shown as flames; below are symbols of physical and spiritual nourishment. The crown of thorns at the foot of the Resurrection Window symbolizes the crucifixion of Jesus; the bird and butterfly rising from the open tomb represent his resurrection and ascent to heaven. An angel in the Incarnation Window points toward a straw-filled manger, symbolizing the humble birth of Jesus, while the Star of Bethlehem guides the three magi coming from the East to pay homage.
Born in Cologne, Germany, Dieterich Spahn studied stained glass design and other liturgical arts at the Werkkunstchule (College of Art and Technology) in Dusseldorf with Professor Werner Lenzen, who had been trained at the Bauhaus School, and Professor Karl Scherer, who had studied under Dutch artist Jan Thorn Prikker, known for his monumental contemporary stained glass. He also studied with German painter Georg Meistermann. The artistic principles and philosophy of the Bauhaus and Prikker have remained major influences on Spahn's work.
After coming to the United States in 1961, Spahn worked for several years in the St. Paul, MN, studio of German-born artist Peter Dohmen, who also had studied with Prikker. During these years he assisted Dohmen in creating many large-scale windows, including the monumental 24' x 90' windows for the Valparaiso University Chapel at Valparaiso, IN. In 1969 Spahn established his own studio, Dieterich Spahn & Associates, originally located at Wayzata, MN, and now at Minnetonka, MN. He has worked with well-known architectural firms and with noted liturgical consultant Frank Kacmarcik on several major projects that have received national recognition. His windows, now numbering more than 3,700, can be found in churches throughout the United States. In addition to his windows for St. Philip Neri Catholic Church, Spahn has designed windows for other Michigan buildings, including Holy Family Catholic Church in Caledonia, St. Thomas the Apostle Catholic Church and Convent in Grand Rapids and St. Lawrence Chapel at Resurrection Cemetery in Wyoming. In early 2004, Spahn began a partnership with Willet Hauser Architectural Glass as a designer of both contemporary and traditional stained glass.
St. Philip Neri Catholic Church was registered in the Michigan Stained Glass Census by ViAnn M. Sarver of Reed City, MI.
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Text by Betty MacDowell, Michigan Stained Glass Census, January , 2006.