I received an email from a young man serving in the United States Army. While he lived in El Paso, and when he was able, he would attend mass at St Stephen Deacon and Martyr. His late-night email asked me if I had any photos of “the most beautiful church” he’s ever seen.
These are the photos I sent to him. I do hope you will enjoy them as much as he has.
Remeber, you can click on any photo to enlarge it.
The Altar at St. Stephen contains three types of extraordinary relics. First, there are relics of St. Stephen. That gives the Church a greater spiritual connection to St. Stephen! Next, a relic of Fr. San Pedro de Jesus Maldonado (which you will see later in this posting). The last relic comes from a very dark point in recent American history. The altar also contains a relic from 9/11. The following comes from the parish webpage:
Following ancient tradition, relics were buried in the floor underneath the altar. The relics are of St. Stephen, Martyrs of the early Church, San Pedro de Jesus Maldonado, and a piece of rose-coloured granite that lined the entrance of one of the two world trade towers destroyed on 9/11.
From the picture, above, you will see that the baptismal font in directly in line with the altar. This arrangement is done with the permission of the Vatican (citation needed). This is the first I have ever seen of such an agreement. I like the image it implies- baptism in the Lord leads to the Sacrifice of the Mass and the taking of communion.
The next surprise I encountered is the Roettgen Pieta. I would never have imagined that this treasure was in El Paso, much less in a Church; though it is better there than a dusty old museum. Here, the Blessed Mother can be called upon to intercede for us, and we can share in her suffering at the death of her Son.
I tried to find information about this wonderful work in English- Click here to see what I found in German. It is an amazing devotional piece to have in El Paso. We should all take a trip to St. Stephen just to see this piece!
The very first thing I saw and the most beautiful part of this Church is the tapestries! You can’t help but be drawn to them as you walk in one of the three main Church doors (the doors, the three main ones, represent the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit). The tapestries are along the left wall as you face the altar.
Speaking to the ladies in the office, I learned that these tapestries are done by John Nava (Click here for his website). These are amazing works of art, the likes of which I have not seen before. I hope you enjoy my poor photos- they do not compare to seeing the actual works. And these are tapestries in the classical sense- they are weaved. The image you see is not printed on the fabric.
Saint Pedro de Jesus Maldonado Lucero
This next part is just further proof that there is always something to learn in El Paso. Father Maldonado is a Saint from Mexico- and he has connections to El Paso, Texas. During the revolution, he was forced to study here because of the war. He was also ordained at St. Patrick’s here in El Paso.
Father Pedro de Jesus Maldonado Lucero was a member of Knights of Columbus Council 2419. Forced to study for the priesthood in El Paso, Texas, because of the political situation in Mexico, he returned home after his ordination in 1918 despite the risk. Captured on Ash Wednesday, 1937, while distributing ashes to the faithful, Father Maldonado Lucero was so savagely beaten that one eye was forced from its socket. He died the next day at a local hospital. His tombstone aptly described this martyr in four words: “You are a priest.”
This priest, this relic is another reason to visit St. Stephen, and St. Patrick’s. There is a rich history here that I am only just learning- and I have lived in this city all my life!
If you live in El Paso, take a trip over to St. Stephen. There is a lot of history there. When you walk in, you will be met with a feeling of peace, and quiet not often found in the hustle and bustle of our busy days. You can find the Church at 1700 George Dieter. It’s worth the trip, and more than worth the time!
I hope you enjoyed the photos of St. Stephen’s. Now that you’ve reached this part of the page, would you consider supporting me and my work? You may sign-up on Patron (below), or contribute via PayPal.
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My name is Steven Zimmerman, and for just over thirty-five I’ve worked in radio, newspapers, and television. News runs through my veins. However, over the last year, I’ve decided to shift my focus from negative to positive news.