In the center of Saint Clement Church, angels gaze down upon the altar, where the Mystical Body of Christ, the church, celebrates the Eucharist and gathers for prayer. It is at this center point where we visualize our prayer rising to the heavens.
The Heavenly Dome
The eighty-foot dome atop Saint Clement Church appears to float on a ring of light. Thirty-two windows of pebbled translucent glass with borders of jewels ring the base of the dome, allowing natural light to enter. An encircled cross appears in alternate windows, a symbol repeated throughout the church.
Angels with classical features and headdresses hold a circular band carrying the twelve signs of the zodiac. Around the angels are stylized stars with comet-like tails and colorful wave-like lines suggesting clouds. In early Christianity, the zodiac, with its constellations that reappear at the same time each year, represented the heavenly cycle of time. Time is re-dedicated to God each year at the beginning of the Easter Vigil when the paschal candle is marked with the cross and the numerals of the current year.
The altar is the main architectural symbol of Christ’s abiding presence among his people. The altar makes visible what connects heaven and earth – the Body of Christ.
The mosaic on the front of the altar depicts the glorified Christ as the triumphant Lamb of God resting upon the Book of Life as described in Revelation. The Lamb holds a banner symbolizing Christ’s victory over death. The crosses on the banner and on the Lamb's halo recall the sacrifice that won that victory for us.
This mosaic was originally used in the high altar that was installed in the 1930s. It was carefully removed for reuse in this new altar when the church was renovated in the 1980s.
The word of God is proclaimed to the assembly during the liturgy from an elevated reading stand or ambo. It is from this place that we share the stories of our faith. The Ambo is reserved soely for the proclamation of scripture since we believe that the God is present in the word that is spoken and shared.
The Blessed Sacrament Chapel
The Blessed Sacrament Chapel is in a shrine in the southwest corner of the transept, not far from the altar. Here, as has been done since the earliest days of the church, some Eucharistic bread from the Mass is reserved for the sick and dying. A traditional red sanctuary lamp in a brass holder burns to mark the presence of Christ in the Eucharist. Kneelers and chairs are arranged for private devotion and prayer. This chapel uses elements of the 1930 reredos or high altar in the manner for which they were originally created. It was created in the 1980s, when the church was renovated. The base was formed of marble and mosaics that were on the middle level of the reredos. The baldachin that originally topped the reredos now enshrines the tabernacle. This small stone canopy contains many beautiful symbols in mosaic and marble: an anchor for hope and a heart for the love of God embodied in the eucharist. On the blue mosaic dome, ancient symbols for Christ are joined in interlocking circles. The upper rear interior of the dome depicts a dove as a symbol of the Holy Spirit. The free-standing tabernacle is made of the same type of marble as the font and the altar. The brass door (part of the original tabernacle) contains designs of wheat and grapes, symbols of the bread and wine of the eucharist, and a cross. Over the tabernacle door are the words sanctus sanctus sanctus, sung at each Mass in our own language: “Holy, holy, holy.” The earliest reference to the use of this prayer in the liturgy is in Saint Clement's Letter to the Corinthians.
The Windows of Creation
Six windows in the east and west transepts depict the days of creation. In each, an angel holds a glassy disk in which a stage of creation is represented.
The windows of the six days of creation match the windows of the seven sacraments in the apse. Angels are messengers of God. Here the angels display symbols of creation and the sacraments- both gifts from God. The windows are in the style of Sir Edward Burne-Jones, a Pre-Raphaelite artist.