THE WINDOW was designed by the Franz Mayer Studio of Munich and gifted to the parish by former Albany mayor, Michael M. Nolan, in 1895. (Cindy Schultz photos)
THE WINDOW was designed by the Franz Mayer Studio of Munich and gifted to the parish by former Albany mayor, Michael M. Nolan, in 1895. (Cindy Schultz photos)
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Every Sunday, Mike Decker attends the 7:30 a.m. Mass with his family at The Church of Saint Peter in Saratoga Springs. The Deckers try to arrive early to grab seats on the west side of the church, where the pews face toward the front of the parish and its 19th century stained-glass window display.

Why are these spots worth the early morning rise? For the window, of course.

“They sit over here because the morning sun rises behind that wall, and they want to see the window,” said Father Tom Chevalier, pastor. “And I can tell on a sunny day, that it lights their faces.”

The church’s centerpiece stained-glass window — which shows Jesus, St. Peter and six disciples — was erected in 1895, and was recently restored and refurbished thanks to a grant from The Alfred Z. Solomon Charitable Trust, a private foundation based in Saratoga Springs. The window was designed by the Franz Mayer Studio of Munich and gifted to the parish by former Albany Mayor Michael M. Nolan. The grant of approximately $16,000 covered most of the window’s much-needed repairs.

“It hadn’t received any attention, and that’s why I think it appealed to the Solomon Foundation,” said Mark Phillips, parish trustee and parishioner. “It’s local, it’s historic … and now you expose all that beauty to the community, not just the Catholics who worship.”

The restoration of the window has been in motion since the parish officially received the grant back in 2019. The plan was to work on the repairs earlier this year but everything was delayed due to COVID-19. The window work started up again at the beginning of November and was conducted by Willet Hauser Architectural Glass of Winona, Minn., a company renowned for designing and preserving stained glass for more than 120 years. The craftsman completed repairs a little under two weeks after starting.

“We had to get a permit from the city for a cherry picker and the minute that it was delivered, they went right up,” said Phillips. The craftsmen removed an old Plexiglas coating and cleaned up the hand-painted stained glass.

“It’s just gorgeous,” added Phillips. “You really couldn’t see the whole mosaic of it from the street side, but now when the sun is out you can see.”

The focus of the triptych (three panel) window is a depiction of Jesus presenting the keys to heaven to the parish’s patron, St. Peter. The surrounding panels show six of Jesus’ disciples. It’s hard to name who the various pictured disciples are, though easily enough, Father Chevalier just calls them “the gang.”

The window was first installed on the west side of the parish, which faced away from Broadway but hung over where the high altar was at the time. When the church expanded in 1931, parish members created a new sanctuary space and moved the St. Peter window to the east side wall above the choir loft and facing Broadway.

“I think they realized what a piece of art it was,” said Phillips, “and since the congregation and the community of Saratoga Springs grew, it’s prominent. Behind our church wouldn’t have been very well developed — the west side of town — as opposed to Broadway.”

The foot traffic outside of the parish is expected to be high. Located right off Saratoga’s Broadway, and being less than a five-minute walk to the downtown area, it offers plenty of chances for passersby to enjoy the stained-glass display. The parish is working on lighting the window from the inside at night so that those walking by can enjoy the marvelous display.

Added Phillips: “They are priceless windows, and if you don’t see them, people don’t appreciate them ... I think now that it’s fully revealed more folks that know about it will certainly admire it more.” N