Virtual Church Tour


Please join us for a tour of Blessed Sacrament Church. The diagram on the right should guide you through the terminology and historical features of our church.

Blessed Sacrament Church was founded in 1908 by the Dominican Friars, upon the request of Bishop O'Dea to establish a community in his diocese and to assume the care of the students and residents of the University District in Seattle. The church was completed and dedicated on the Feast of St. Francis, October 4th, 1925.

A major retrofit and restoration of the church building was completed in 2003, following the Nisqually Earthquake of 2001. New pews were installed in 2008, and the Sanctuary was restored in 2010.

1. Baptismal Font

The Baptismal Font was made in Italy in 1927. By tradition the baptismal font is located near the main portal as a symbol of our entry into the Christian life by Baptism.  

2. Nave and Coronation of Mary

The Nave (from the Latin, navis - ship) is where worshipers gather for services. It is meant to remind the faithful of Noah's Ark which protected and brought its inhabitants to safety. Turn around to view the Coronation of Mary, and ancient theme in Christian art, above the swinging doors of the center aisle.

This is a copy of a work by Fra Angelico, and was the gift of Fr. Joseph M. Aguius, twice pastor of Blessed Sacrament.

3. Shrine of Our Lady of Perpetual Help

The shrine is in the distinctive style of a Byzantine icon, presenting the virgin, crowned and haloed in gold, holding a similarly crowned and haloed Jesus. The Greek letters at the top identify Mary as "Mother of God."

Above, on either side of the central figures, are two kneeling angels. The Archangel Gabriel, on the right, holds a cross of the distinctive Greek type; the other is Archangel Michael holding the cane with the sponge of vinegar offered to Jesus just before he died. Jesus, the infant, looks warily at these instruments, and clings to his mother.

4. Shrine of St. Theresa of Lisieux

The shrine of St. Theresa of Lisieux, "The Little Flower," was made in Liege, Belgium and installed in its present location in 1926. The roses she holds refer to the statement she made: "After my death, I will let fall a shower of roses."

Inscribed above her alcove in an arch are her words: "I will spend my heaven doing good on earth."

St. Theresa is a Doctor of the Church and, along with St. Francis Xavier, is the patron of foreign missions.

5. Windows of Dominican Saints

Above the nave shrines, the windows along the north and south aisles depict ten prominent Dominican saints. These windows were created by Jill and Robert Hill, of HillHouse Studio on Guemes Island:

Click on image for larger picture.

St. Catherine
de Ricci

St. Raymond
of Penefort

St. Rose
of Lima

St. Martin
de Porres

St. Catherine
of Siena

St. Dominic

St. Margaret
of Hungary

St. Albert
the Great

St. Agnes
of Montepulciano

St. Thomas Aquinas

Under the windows of the saints and wrapping around the back of the church are fourteen depictions of the Stations of the Cross, a Franciscan tradition depicting the passion and death of Jesus.

6. Sanctuary

The Sanctuary is where services are celebrated. The high altar was installed in the 1958 renovation and was used until the liturgical changes introduced by Vatican II. In 1966 and 1967 the sanctuary area was expanded into the crossing. In 2009/2010 the Sanctuary was renovated and restored.

7. South Transept

a) The statue of St. Rose of Lima depicts her in the Dominican habit, holding the Child Jesus as well as roses. Like St. Catherine of Siena, her model and patroness, she is shown wearing a crown of roses. She was a member of the Third Order of St. Dominic and practiced an ascetic life. St. Rose is patroness of Peru, all the Americas, the Philippines and the Indies. She is also patroness of social services.

b) Shrine of St. Jude Thaddeus. This shrine in the south transept honors St. Jude Thaddeus, one of the twelve apostles. St. Jude holds a staff representing his wanderings in Persia, spreading the word of God, but it is also meant to recall the means by which he was martyred. The lancet windows on either side of the altar are by Tom Hemmen. They symbolize events from St. Jude's life. The right window shows the fallen head of a Persian idol below its headless torso, reminding us of St. Jude casting evil spirits out of the idols, whereupon the idols fell to pieces. The left window represents the head of Jesus, from the medallion St. Jude wears, and a broad-ax, the weapon used to behead St. Jude after he was clubbed to death.

c) The statue of St. Martin de Porres. The Peruvian Saint Martin de Porres holds a crucifix, reminding us of his devotion to the cross, and a loaf of bread, symbolizing his care for and feeding of the poor.

d) The statue of St. Francis holds a simple wooden crucifix in his right hand. On the back of his hand can be seen one of the marks of the stigmata, the wounds of the Crucified Jesus. Along with Catherine of Siena, he is patron of Italy. He is also patron of the Franciscan Order and also of the Catholic Action movement.

e) Clerestery Windows. The Clerestery windows above the Rosary Chapel are in two sets of three lancet windows.

The left panel of the south window depicts the angel's instructions to Joseph to take Mary and Jesus into Egypt: with his left hand the angel points to a pyramid surrounded by palm trees. The middle lancet represents the adoration of the magi and the shepherd by means of a star, a shepherd's crook, and the cradle from which three beams of light emanate. The third lancet depicts Joseph with a fiery halo, and in his left hand a carpenter's square.

The north window has in its first panel a representation of Mary holding the Infant Jesus, while above her head a sword points down at her, an image derived from Simeon's prophecy of Mary's future sorrow (Lk 2:34-35). The next panel contains the figure of Joseph and the Child Jesus, who holds in his right hand a bright green globe, surmounted by the cross. The third Panel balances the first in the south group, presenting another angel, this one holding a folded piece of purple paper, with the word JESV written on it. This refers to the first vision Joseph had when he was thinking of divorcing Mary and an angel instructed him to name the Child Jesus (Mt 1:19-21).

8. Rosary Chapel

In the chapel south of the main sanctuary is a sculpture group, representing the Blessed Mother making a presentation of the rosary to St. Dominic, while the Child Jesus raises his hand in blessing and hands another rosary to St. Catherine of Siena. St. Dominic holds lilies, as he does in the statue in the north transept, signifying his virginity. He is also accompanied by a dog with a flaming torch in his mouth. St. Catherine wears a crown of thorns and holds a "corignens,' a burning heart symbolic of her active love of God, a symbol related to that of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. The globe at Mary's feet symbolizes the world to be enlightened, "set afire" by the preaching of the Gospel by the Dominican Order.

The form of the modern Catholic rosary is attributed to Dominic, who constructed it as a result of a vision in which Mary revealed it to him. He popularized the devotion by using it in his missionary work against the Albigensians. The term rosary (from the Latin rosarium) means "rose garden."

The Infant of Prague is invoked as the patron of religious vocations, good health, solutions to financial problems; families, children, schools; peace, freedom, the missions, and the safety of individuals in times of danger.

9. Crucifix and West Window.

The crucifix was made by Jens Miller-Christensen and donated by the Traxinger family in 1965. The corpus presents a beardless Jesus in a pose of rest rather than suffering. The pierced side indicates that this is a dead Jesus. However, the positions of the head and neck are upright and the hands are relaxed. This recalls the heiratic, victorious crucifixes of early Christian and Byzantine art rather than the broken and suffering images made from the high Middle Ages to the middle of this century.

The West Window was donated to the church by Margaret Rummel, and designed and shaped by Tom Hemmen. It was installed in 1962-1963. In the two center panels we see Christ the King elevating the chalice and host above the empty cross of the crucifixion. We recognize first of all the dual image of Jesus as Priest and King, an honored theological concept.

On either side of the two central panels we find Mary, Mother of God, and John the Evangelist, further emphasizing the redemptive crucifixion and death of Jesus. Their frontal posture suggests, however, not their involvement in the sorrow of the Crucifixion, but their roles as intermediaries.

The two outer panels each contain three symbols. In the leftmost panel the top symbol is a scale, representing the virtue of justice as well as Melchizedek, the "king of justice." The harp recalls King David, the Psalmist and ancestry of Mary and Joseph. The rising sun suggests the prophet Malachi, who prophesies of the judgment coming to all -- "but to you who fear my name, the sun of righteousness will shine out with healing in his rays." (Mal 3:20)

In the right-most panel, the Star of Jacob recalls the Old Testament seer Balaam. The candles emblematically refer to the two natures of Jesus, while the lily at the bottom symbolizes his Resurrection, paralleling one meaning of the rising sun on the other side. 

The six lower panels offer a diverse series of emblems. The sword, anchor and heart represent the three theological virtues: faith, hope and charity. In the second panel the ship represents the Church. The palms recall the Palm Sunday entry of Jesus into Jerusalem. In addition the palm is a symbol of martyrdom. The fish in the next panel is one of the oldest symbols of Jesus, since the Greek word for fish (ichthus) was taken to be an anagram of the Greek phrase meaning "Jesus Christ, God's Son, Savior." The next panel presents chi-rho, the first two letters of the Greek "Christos" (the Anointed One, the Messiah); the Alpha and Omega, the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet, refer to the passage at the end of the Book of Revelation. Finally, in the rightmost lower panel the mother pelican is piercing her own breast to provide nourishment for her young. This story , taken from medieval bestiaries, is an apt symbol of Jesus' redemptive suffering to bring life to His children.

10. Shine of St. Joseph

The Shrine of St. Joseph is dedicated to the foster-father of Jesus and husband of Mary. The present statue, the work of an Italian woodcarver, was installed in 1981. Joseph is shown holding carpenter's tools, a square, a chisel, and a pair of pincers. The statue rejects the earlier tradition of making Joseph and old man, and instead makes him a handsome young man. Devotion to St. Joseph, emphasizing his position in the Holy Family, developed late in Church history. The chief reason for this delay, apparently, was the fear of misunderstanding which could arise concerning Mary's perpetual virginity and Christ's origin. In 1870 St. Joseph was declared patron of the Universal Church, an apt role for the guardian of Mary and Jesus. The Principal feast of St. Joseph is March 19, but in 1955 the feast of St. Joseph the Worker also established on May 1, to emphasize the dignity of labor and Christian ideals in labor relations. During the Sanctuary Renovation of 2010, St. Joseph was moved back to this original location, where he was placed when the Church was built, and the tabernacle of the Blessed Sacrament was returned to the center west wall of the Sanctuary.

11. North Transept

a) The statue of St. Dominic is located between the altar and the Blessed Sacrament Chapel. He is presented in the Dominican habit: a white tunic and scapular and a black cappa (or cloak). The dog at his feet recalls a number of stories. His mother, Joan of Aza, before her son's birth, dreamt that a dog leapt from her womb carrying a flaming torch in its mouth, with which it set the whole world afire with its light. Also, contemporaries of the early friars often made a Latin pun on the name Dominican and called them Dominicanes rather than Dominicani (Dominicanes = Domini canes, "the Dogs of the Lord"). Of course, it was not always meant kindly, but Dominicans have embraced the joke and claim to be the watchdogs of the Lord. The star on his forehead symbolizes the star his godmother saw at his baptism shining on his forehead. This was taken as a symbol that Dominic would one day be a source of illumination to those in the darkness of error and ignorance. The lilies in his hand symbolize the purity of Dominic's life, his commitment for the service of others. St. Dominic is patron of preachers, the Dominican family, and teachers of theology. His feast day is celebrated on August 8th.

b) The statue of St. Thomas Aquinas depicts him in the Dominican habit, holding a book and a quill. On one page of the book is the name "Aristotle" and on his chest is a golden sunburst with the initials IHS (the first three letters of the Greek spelling of the name Jesus). In Thomas' theological works, he sharply distinguishes faith and reason, and between the "truth" that can be known through each. While he admitted the gulf between reason and revelation, he also believed that the careful and logical use of reason could never lead to knowledge inconsistent with faith, and that the mysteries of faith could be examined and better understood by applying the tools of logic and philosophy.

Thomas was canonized in 1323. His feast is celebrated on January 28. He was declared a Doctor of the Church in 1567 by Pope Pius V. He is called the "Angelic Doctor" and is patron of universities, colleges, and schools.

 c) The Sacred Heart Shrine, the central shrine of the north transept, is devoted to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. The image of the Sacred Heart of Jesus is the symbol of God's everlasting and unrestrained love for His sinful creatures, a love proven by history, by the gift of His own Son. Devotion to the Sacred Heart, which began in the late Middle Ages, is associated with the Benedictine nun St. Gertrude and the Dominican friar, Blessed Henry Suso. In the 17th century, St. John Eudes fostered devotion to the Sacred Heart and, years later, St. Margaret Mary Alacoque experienced a series of visions of Jesus; their purpose was to make people realize Jesus' great love for all people and to request reception of Holy Communion on the first Fridays of successive months, in reparation for all offenses committed against His love for us.

The pair of windows here are by Tom Hemmen. Both windows contain symbols of Jesus' suffering and death. The window on the left shows at the bottom the crown of thorns and the three nails used in the crucifixion; in the upper right are shown a pair of pincers, associated with the removal of the nails after the crucifixion. The right window has a pair of dice, representing the gambling over Jesus' tunic; the artist has used the number two, to remind us of the double nature of Jesus, God and man, and the number three, to recall Jesus' place in the Holy Trinity. The rope and lantern are symbols of the betrayal of Jesus by Judas and Judas' subsequent suicide.

d) The statue of St. Catherine of Siena is located near the north entrance. She is depicted in the black and white Dominican habit, wearing a crown of thorns and carrying a crucifix. Like St. Francis of Assisi, Catherine received the stigmata, and again like him she is invoked as patron of Italy. She was an active force in bringing the Papacy back to Rome in 1377 from its "Babylonian exile" in Avignon. She is also invoked on behalf of the Papacy, the Church, women religious, and all Dominicans, and she is an especially fitting patroness for all who are concerned with the role of women in the church and society.

12. Rotating Shrine

In 2010, when the Sanctuary was restored, St. Joseph was moved back to the northwest shrine - where the Blessed Sacrament Chapel used to be located. This space that St. Joseph vacated is now being used as a "rotational shrine," to highlight special feast days and devotions.

13. Shrine of St. Peregrine

The Shrine of St. Peregrine is located in the north aisle near the main entrance. The icon was painted by Fr. Brendan McAnerney, O.P., in 2000. St. Peregrine was born in Italy in 1260. He was well known for his preaching, austerities, and holiness. His fame grew after he was miraculously cured of an advanced foot cancer, having experienced a vision of the Healing Christ. St. Peregrine was canonized in 1726 and is the patron saint of those touched by cancer.

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