Illuminated by the Liberal Arts
Rose Window to Pay Tribute to College’s Authentic Liberal Arts Education
Upon entering the new Christ the King Chapel, one of the most striking details will be directly behind you, illuminating the Chapel in a beautiful array of colors: the rose window. The window will honor Our Lady Seat of Wisdom, nested in the center and surrounded by angelic personifications of the seven traditional liberal arts. The beautiful imagery’s placement will be intentional, showing the marriage between the Catholic Faith and Christendom’s education.
The college’s dedication to the liberal arts is at the core of its apostolate as it seeks to set men truly free. As the college’s vision statement declares:
From its beginning, Christendom College has been committed to Catholic liberal education, but few in our time understand what liberal education is. An explanation must begin with freedom: a liberal education is the education of a free man. It prepares man for true freedom and fosters that freedom within him. The most obvious characteristic of the free man is that he is not a slave, that he is able to choose for himself, but the modern mind stops here. It understands freedom only as a lack of repression. But true freedom is not just a lack, it is something positive, an ability to direct one’s actions rationally. No one can direct himself rationally without a goal, without understanding the true purpose of human existence, the achievement of the good. The truly free man, then, lives a good life; he pursues what is truly good, both for himself and for society.
Blessed John Henry Newman saw this need centuries ago, and fought to change the direction of the university system through his own writings. In his book, the Idea of a University, Newman observed that a student, through a liberal arts education, attains an intellectual prowess by which he can take up any career and thrive with competence, grace, versatility, and success. Unlike the non-liberally trained, the liberal arts student becomes equipped for a life of leadership and excellence. By marrying a liberal arts education with the Catholic Faith, a student is even more equipped, as he is illuminated by the Light of Reason and the teachings of Christ and His Church — not too dissimilar from how light from the rose window will illuminate the new chapel.
Christendom stands as one of the last schools of higher education to embrace this “idea of a university.” In the classroom, students wrestle with the most important questions known to man, from “who is God?” to the hows and whys of creation itself. They read the greatest works of Western Civilization, and study the events and figures that shaped and molded the world into its present form. Most of all, they learn and discuss all these things with a committed faculty, who is ready and willing to engage students along their path to success, just as Newman envisioned.
Where do these students end up as a result? In every career field imaginable. Law, journalism, medicine, education, politics — all of these fields are occupied by graduates of Christendom. Christendom’s founder, Dr. Warren H. Carroll, founded the school for this very purpose: to form lay people who would go out into the world and impact every field for the better. With their education in hand, alumni are accomplishing that very ideal daily.
The Catholic liberal arts is the ideal form of education, both according to Newman and to Pope Saint John Paul II as well, laid out in his landmark encyclical Ex Corde Ecclesiae. Christendom follows in the tradition of both, and the rose window aims to show this in a physical manner, which will awe and inspire for years to come.