Immediately within the front doors of the church, is the narthex. This lobby-like area is a place to gather, to welcome newcomers and to greet one another. The narthex allows church-goers to make the transition from the hectic world outside into the sacred space of the church.
A central position in the narthex is the gift table. The gifts of bread and wine are placed here until they are presented during the liturgy.
Turning back to face the portal door you will see two reliefs. Both of these marble reliefs, with gold-leaf mosaic, were a part of the original church built in the 1957. The relief to the left is of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. To the right is a relief of our patroness, Our Lady of the Assumption. The narthex contains two other sacred objects that were in the original church. On the wall is the beautiful marble crucifix, which hung over the altar for decades. The other is the former altar, now being used as the catafalque.
Located directly beneath the crucifix, the catafalque holds a special place in funeral liturgies. The narthex can accommodate over 200 mourners and is therefore a suitable place to celebrate a wake service. The casket of a loved one may be placed on the catafalque during the visitation and wake preceding a funeral. The placement of the catafalque in the narthex exemplifies the belief regarding the relationship between the communities of the living and the dead.
The wooden book on the wall to the right of the catafalque contains the names of those parishioners and friends whose time, talent and treasure built this church.
The massive doors of life are flanked by sets of smaller doors through which parishioners enter the church. The ceremonial doors are only opened for the celebration of the sacraments (funerals, weddings, first Eucharist, etc.), on high Holy Days or during Holy Years. The bronze panels from the great doors are reproductions of the doors of the Basilica of St. Zeno Major, in Verona Italy. One of the most glorious masterpieces of Romanesque architecture, St. Zeno’s was built in about 1120, but as a reconstruction of previous churches whose origins date back to the 4th or 5th centuries AD. Indeed, it was in the 3rd and 4th centuries that the town was converted to Christianity, enlightened by the teaching of the great Bishop, St. Zeno, to whom the Basilica was subsequently dedicated.
Decorating the OLA doors are caste bronze relief’s illustrating stories from the Hebrew (OT) and Christian (NT) Scriptures, marking events in salvation history. The scenes on the side of the doors facing the narthex are The Expulsion from Eden, The First Works and Death of Abel, Noah’s Dove, Abraham’s Hospitality, The Sacrifice of Isaac, The Bronze Serpent, Jesse’s Generations and Nebuchadnezzar. On the side of the door facing the interior of the church are The Annunciation, The Nativity with Shepherds and Three Kings, The Flight into Egypt, The Anointing, The Last Supper, The Crucifixion of Christ, The Descent into Limbo and the Glory of God.