Stained-Glass Window

Stained glass from Holy Rosary church
Stained glass from Holy Rosary church

My great-grandfather came to the U.S. from Italy in 1920 and settled in Wisconsin. A devout Catholic, he immediately joined a largely immigrant-Italian church named Holy Rosary, which served as the dominant institution in the remainder of his life and the entirety of my grandfather's. Indeed, Holy Rosary gave my grandfather the things he cherishes most: an education, a community with ties back to Italy, and his own family. My grandfather met and married my grandmother at Holy Rosary, and their children grew up there, too. Correspondingly, church ritual centered around Holy Rosary maintained the structure of my grandparents' lives until last year, governing everything from when they woke up to what they ate. Well into retirement, my grandparents volunteered extensively for Holy Rosary in various capacities.

About 20 years ago, to commemorate their service, my grandparents were given this piece of the original stained glass windows that populated Holy Rosary's interior prior to a renovation in 1948 (which my grandfather contributed money, fundraising, and physical labor to contemporaneously). Today, the glass sits on my living room mantle and reminds me of the changing significance of religion within my family. Religion helped my great-grandparents cement ties in a new country without eschewing their Italian roots. Meanwhile, for my grandparents, it is the bedrock of their community and life together; for my mother, it is a reminder of her immigrant identity; and, for me, it is a dear reminder of my grandparents. 

Place(s): Italy and Wisconsin
Year: 1920

– Kate

Relationship:  Great-grandchild of im/migrant or more Great-grandchild of im/migrant or more