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From buried treasure to Oklahoma jewels: The windows of Immaculate Conception tell their own story

PAWHUSKA, OKLAHOMA -- LeeAnn Ammons never realized this growing up and going to church.
She never made the connection between herself and this 36-foot tall window facing to the north inside the Immaculate Conception Catholic Church.

"I looked up there and read my grandmother's name," she recalls.

LeeAnn's grandmother helped pay for what's called the Osage Window now.

Her aunt, Clara Mae Neal, is one of two girls staring right back at her across more than a century of church history.

Her reaction, "So, yes. I'm very proud that my aunt is depicted in that window."

In the early part of the 20th Century, after big oil strikes hit on Osage lands, the tribe suddenly went from one of the poorest to the richest in the U.S.

In 1910, the church priest laid the cornerstone on a grand cathedral.

He made meticulous plans for the interior and the windows, too.

LeeAnn spends part of each week conducting tours of her church, now widely referred as the Cathedral of the Osage.

Of the windows, Ammons says, "Most of them were donated by the Osages."

She takes guests beneath the light of 22 different stained glass windows that offer a history of their own as well.

"I can't even imagine the process," she says.

Money being no object, the church commissions a group of artisans in Munich, Germany to create these masterpieces.

When World War I intervened, those same artisans buried most of what you see here in a local river bank to protect from possible shelling.

"They were mostly completed," she says. "But then they had to be hidden in the sand banks in the rivers."

It wasn't until 1925 the church was finally dedicated, the original vision finally realized in vivid color.

"It was a multi-year process," she says.

Within these walls, beneath the light of many church windows, a healthy debate roils about whether the age of miracles is long finished.

LeeAnn points to these windows as proof that God is still at work right here.

The Immaculate Conception Church conducts regular tours on weekdays between 10AM and 3PM.

Click here for more information.