A reflection of faith and artistry

Parishioners raised millions to restore their beloved church and its stunning stained glass window

  • Photo: Chris Sheridan, Catholic New York, via William Moran

“The church is for the people of God. They see this as their temple, their place.”

The Rev. John Duffell, pastor of the Church of the Blessed Sacrament

The largest rose window in New York City is shining brightly once again, following the restoration of the Church of the Blessed Sacrament on West 71st Street. The Roman Catholic church has been serving the Upper West Side since it was built in 1917.

When a piece of the church’s facade fell off in 2016, the parishioners began a fundraising drive to repair the slate roof and stone exterior, as well as the prized rose window, the third largest in North America, which hovers proudly above the entrance.

Modelled after the Sainte Chapelle in France, and designed in the Gothic style, the window depicts angels offering worship to God, surrounded by incense and musical instruments. The restored window was unveiled on April 7th. The reveal brought some onlookers to tears, said the Rev. John Duffell, the pastor of Blessed Sacrament.

The restoration, which took 17 months, was necessary to restore glory to the window, Duffell said. “You couldn’t see physical damage unless you went up close to it. But you also didn’t have the brilliance of color you now have, because it was dark and dirty.”

All 240 stained glass pieces of the window were individually removed and restored. Clear glass was then installed on the exterior of the window to protect it from the elements. Damage to the old exterior glass had contributed to the deterioration of the window.

The parish raised $3.9 million for the overall renovation of the church. Reverend Duffell talked about how the fundraising and renovation effort affected members of the Blessed Sacrament community. “I think it brought people to consider the temple in which they worship,” he said. “The church is for the people of God. They see this as their temple, their place.”

Duffell expressed excitement at the near completion of the renovations, which will allow the building to reflect the energy of the congregation. “It’s a sign of life in the church. We’re alive and this place is very much alive,” Duffell said.

Sign up to get our newsletter emailed to you every week!

Enter your email address in the box below.
Select the newsletters you would like to subscribe to.
Click the 'SUBSCRIBE' button.

Subscribe to our mailing list

* indicates required
Neighborhood Newsletters