A View of St. Joseph’s New Rose Window

The historic Cumberland church updated its stained glass masterpiece.
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Photograph by Mike Braca.

All is quiet at Saint Joseph’s Church in Cumberland. But the silence is interrupted when a cherry picker’s engine turns on, followed by voices that float through a gaping hole in the church where a stained glass rose window used to be. Today, the rose window is returning home. This nineteenth-century work of art was crumbling and cracked when James Donahue of New England Stained Glass removed it and refurbished it at his shop. But for Donahue, repainting and fixing the broken glass is the easy part. “The most challenging thing is making sure that when we’re done it fits,” he says. Not to mention that the window could fall and shatter. “We can handle anything in the shop,” he says, “but when we’re on a job, when we’re on a lift or whatever we’re doing, there’s always a chance…it’s a big window!” One hundred and eighty-eight inches across, to be exact. But as the morning wears on, and the sun streams through the colored glass, the last piece is put in place and a jubilant “We’re good!” indicates success. “Now I can relax,” says Donahue.

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