St. Bernadette Catholic Church

Scottsdale, Arizona

The Approach

In response to the exponential growth of the Phoenix Diocese, a new church in Scottsdale, Arizona broke ground in 2016. The parish dedicated all available funds to the project, with the goal of designing and building an elegant church that would stand the test of time. Upon completion of the structure, funding was unavailable for full decoration of the interior and the Romanesque-style church was left with bare, white paint, for five years. Following an ambitious fundraising campaign and many months of planning, the interior decoration was completed. Intricate stencils, beautiful murals, and new stained glass enhance the space and represent the great kingdom of God. The final result is an interpretation of the three transcendentals of truth, goodness, and beauty.

The goal of this 2021 design was to provide a worship space that speaks of God’s glory and inspires a sense of holiness and reverence from the moment one enters the church. During the project’s conceptual design phase, a digital rendering was created to show the client what the church could look like. The designs created for St. Bernadette included a great deal of symbolism. Flowering vines are an earthly representation of the Garden of Heaven, perfection, and paradise; repeating patterns feature interwoven and stylized crosses, suggesting eternity and infinity; simple scrollwork is in the Romanesque style, in keeping with the architecture of the church, and much more.

The Painting

In addition to detailed polychromatic stencils throughout the church, nine large murals adorn the ceilings. These murals are visual representations of events from the life of Christ and of the lives of the Saints – placing a particular emphasis on Mary and her earthly life.

A large mural in the church’s apse features all of the American saints with the Immaculate Conception of Mary at the center. The ceiling of the baldicchino features a large mural depicting the Holy Spirit in a heavenly gold with a blue background representing the sky. Two large fine arts paintings in the transepts depict the Holy Family outside their home in Nazareth and St. Bernadette with Our Lady of Lourdes.

The Stained Glass

CSS artisans also created thirty-four new stained glass windows to enhance the traditional Romanesque architecture. Each window is specifically designed for the space, featuring an image of a particular Saint, Archangel, or representation of Our Blessed Mother. As in the detailed decorative painting, each image in the stained glass windows is rich with symbolism and meaning.

The confessional windows are adaptions of eighteenth-century engravings by renowned Augsburg artist Joseph Sebastian Klauber. Six engravings were selected to represent the Litany of Loreto: Refuge of Sinners, Comforter of the Afflicted, Help of Christians, Health of the Sick, Virgin Most Merciful, and Mirror of Justice.

Labor of Love

Fifty artists and craftsmen worked for more than 18,000 hours to bring this vision to life. With stained glass, murals, intricate stencils, and gilded details, Father Donald Kline and the St. Bernadette renovation committee have sought to do more than just “put lots of nice stuff” into the new church design. The renewed interior draws our minds and hearts to God, inspiring the marvelous sense of community that is so important to the Catholic faith.

award-Winning Work

Conrad Schmitt Studios, Inc. was pleased to accept the 2022 Acanthus Award for Interior Design for our work at St. Bernadette Catholic Church. With murals, sculptures, stained glass, decorative details and more, this project was an opportunity to give this parish a reverent place to worship where no detail was left out.

Our jurors comments: “In Ecclesiastic design, while the liturgical arts and the architectural design go hand-in-hand and are often developed together, for budgetary reasons it often requires the interior development and sacred arts program to follow at a later date. With this submittal, it is obvious that the two were developed together and in this case, the Liturgical Arts completely transform the space – realizing the original intent. They work harmoniously together within a variety of decorative elements – painted wall and ceiling surfaces, murals, stained glass and decorative detailing. It is a credit to both the design team and the congregation to fully realize this in such a short period of time after the completion of the church.”

Finished interior of St. Bernadette

Installed New Stained Glass Window


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