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St Therese gets stained-glass

Two stained-glass windows made in Chartres, France, are part of a special building project at The Shrine of St. Therese near the Tower District.

The new stained glass continues the church's connection with Gabriel Loire, who was commissioned 52 years ago to create the stained-glass windows adorning St. Therese's sanctuary and chapel.

The church's building project features a 4,000-square-foot social hall and kitchen, and 1,500-square-foot offices. A dedication for the buildings will be held at 5:15 p.m. today. However, the stained-glass windows won't be installed at the gable ends of the social hall until January.

The buildings were constructed by the Fresno-based T.K. Hensleit Co. -- and it was owner Tim Hensleit's idea for the church to continue the Loire theme.

Loire died in 1996. While vacationing in France, Hensleit visited the Cathedral of Our Lady of Chartres -- and saw that some of the stained glass was by Loire. Then Hensleit located the family business, Ateliers Loire, in Chartres and discussed the project with the owners: Loire's sons, Jacques and Bruno, daughter Natalie Zinn and grandson Hervé Loire. It was a meaningful idea.

"It's important for us to tie back the old relationship with this project and the artwork with the old building, knowing there is a spiritual connection with this artwork," Hensleit says.

Loire's artwork is known for its dalle de verre fastening method, with pieces of glass cut and set in epoxy resin. The stained-glass windows for St. Therese feature a peace dove and St. Therese's image.

Gabriel Loire also did special art projects in Fresno at the Bishop Willinger private chapel, Covenant of the Disciples of Divine Master and Grace Methodist Church.

The architect for the St. Therese building project was T.A. Bluhm Associates in Fresno.

Ron Orozco
The Fresno Bee
Originally published 2008-12-06