St. Mary’s Cookbook

Hello again,                                   St Marys 3

This post is just a little different.  After my last my last success, I’m afraid to let you, but mostly me, down, so I’m going to switch this up a bit.

Let me explain.  A few months ago I was asked to help with a cookbook.  The cookbook will be from, and about, St. Mary’s Church in Elizabeth, IL.  St. Mary’s will be turning 100 this year.  The original church was a log cabin destroyed by a fire.  After it burnt down, the church was reconstructed in 1913 out of brick.  The fascinating tidbit is that the windows in this beautiful church are Tiffany windows.  Yes, the real deal.

Louis Comfort Tiffany declared that his life-long goal was “the pursuit of beauty.” Although his father, Charles Lewis, had founded the most prestigious silver and jewelry company in America, Louis chose another professional direction. Originally trained as a painter, he began studying the chemistry and techniques of glassmaking. In 1885, Tiffany established his own firm and while he continued to undertake decorating commissions, his focus was on new methods of glass manufacturing. He registered a patent for opalescent window glass, where several colors were combined and manipulated to create an unprecedented range of hues and three-dimensional effects. Tiffany believed that this new material allowed more fidelity to the inherent nature of the medium, because it enabled form to be defined by the glass itself rather than by painting onto the glass.

“What business have we with art at all unless all can share it?” Tiffany successfully created an art industry. He triumphed where others had failed because his personal fortune allowed him to sacrifice company profits in the interests of artistic achievement. In addition, he provided an extraordinary range of products, so that consumers at almost every economic level had access to his religion of beauty.


This is where I enter the story.  I was asked to photograph the windows. My modus operandi is leap before you look, so I said yes!

Fast forward to a week ago:  I rolled out of bed at 5am, poured a cup, grabbed my camera, and hit highway 20 due west. This is all new to me, I have never photographed in this type of setting before, but I had a good idea of how to tackle the windows.

The office of St. Mary’s opens at 9:00am, of course I was early, so I took a stroll.     

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Beautiful and moving ! what else can I say.  I found headstones dating back 100 plus years.  Priests of the parish, nuns of the parish, infants, war hero’s, mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers … I’d like to pay homage to each and every one.


It’s now 9:00am and the  doors have opened …

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…………   St Marys_-2    ……..    St Marys_    …..


The windows are portraying the New Testament, and I am reduced to a humble servant.  Yes, most churches tell the life of Jesus within their walls, however, I am photographing them … My style, ‘up close and personal’,  has taken on a new meaning, intimate and precious.


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………….     St Marys_-8      ……….     St Marys_-9


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No matter what your religious beliefs are, this is the story of one man, a carpenter from Nazareth. His 33 years on earth, His trials and tribulations, His life and death, all documented in the greatest book ever written. Here at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Elizabeth, Illinois, ‘Tiffany’ has made their mark.St Marys_-14

As far as the cookbook goes, I’ve got the windows covered !  …. bring on the recipes, let’s get to the meat and potatoes of this project !



10 thoughts on “St. Mary’s Cookbook

  1. These pictures are truly beautiful. You have captured all of Tiffany’s colors. Congrats again on showing all of us your genius for photography.

  2. Beautiful work–an artistic representation of artistic work– and fabulous insight. Yes, you will get to the work of food photography but photographing Tiffany is an important work as well!

  3. How exciting. I didn’t know about Tiffany’s work in Elizabeth. I understand there is a Methodist church in Dubuque with Tiffany windows also. I especially love your photo of Christ on the cross. Beautiful lighting, Have fun with the food—hope it’s not all casseroles…those are hard to photograph well, but tasty!

  4. body{font-size:10pt;font-family:arial,sans-serif;background-color:#ffffff;color:black;}p{margin:0px;}Great shots!  Now whats for dinner?  Uncle ED.

  5. Michelle this was a truly inspiring piece of work. It was fascinating and I can see it really moved you too. By the way show me the cook book when you get it. Thank you for sharing this.

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