Bavaria in America: A Tour of St. Mary's in Wausau, Wisconsin

Many of our readers will be familiar, at least by sight if not by name, with St. Mary's Church in Wausau, Wisconsin. This particular church is under the care of the Institute of Christ the King (ICRSS) and found within the diocese of La Crosse, Wisconsin.  The church, originally built in 1892, went through various renovations, a fire and was then closed in 1999. Subsequent to this the church was given over to the care of the ICRSS who undertook renovations that lasted four years, having been finally completed in 2003. 

I can recall when this church was first re-opened under the ICRSS. There was great interest in and excitement about the project and it remains one of the most spectacular modern parish revivals of the past twenty or more years. 

The style is distinctly northern European and particularly Bavarian. In fact, the three altar pieces are all reproductions of similar pieces found in Blutenburg Castle in Bavaria. Each are wood carvings that have been painted using natural pigments and minerals as well as an ample amount of gold leaf. 

The triptych above the high altar encloses a 15th century statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary that was found in -- if you will believe it -- a European antiques market.

The left door of the triptych depicts the Annunciation, while the right, the Coronation of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  When the triptych is closed, it depicts the Passion of Christ on the left and Our Lady of Sorrows on the right. 

To the gospel side of the high altar is a side altar that depicts the fourteen holy helpers and the Kingship of Christ.

To the epistle side is a side altar which depicts the Holy Trinity.

Lined along either side of the nave of the church are hand carved statues of the twelve apostles. Interestingly, these were all carved from the wood of a single tree. Here are four of them.

St. Andrew
St. Peter
St. James the Greater
St. Paul
The gothic vaulting was also inspired by the chapel of Blutenburg Castle and includes details of local Wisconsin wildflowers as well as crests that include papal heraldry, the arms of the ICRSS, Bavaria and Our Lady of Wausau.

Finally, here are a few other random images of the church, as well one that gives a view into the impressive liturgical life in the parish.

Looking back toward the narthex
A detail of the high altar
Carvings above the sedelia
St. Michael the Archangel
Solemn Mass with the relatively rare privilege of blue

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