Stained Glass Story

 stain_glass_1 Chapel of the ResurrectionStory of the Stained Glass Windows The stain glass windows in the Chapel are patterned on an Easter theme.   The window closest to the Altar depicts the earliest scene of Easter, as described in John 20, the Prayer Book Gospel for Easter Day. The window contains a beautiful picture of the angel standing by the empty tomb on Easter morning. Moving down the chapel we find the continuation of the Easter story in Chapter 20 of the Gospel of John, in which Mary Magdalene recognizes the Risen Lord. The basic elements of the Easter Story may be seen in this stain glass window. In the background stands the empty tomb with the large stone rolled away. The three crosses which are outlined on the Hill of Golgotha have been adopted from a similar detail in the first window. The resurrected Lord continues to bear the wounds of death in his hands and feet. The nimbus, the circle of light around the head of Christ, also contains the cross. The whole effect of this emphasis on the cross is to ensure that the beholder is informed that there is no resurrection with a death. Mary Magdalena stood by the Cross of Jesus (Mark 15:40) and it was she to whom the Risen Lord Jesus first appeared (John 20:11). In ancient religious art, as in the window, a vial has been placed near Mary. From early times, Mary has been identified with the “woman who was a sinner” who anointed Christ’s feet (Luke 7:37) and also with Mary the sister of Martha, who also anointed him (John 12:3). The vial recalls these anointings of Jesus. Below the figure of Jesus there is a skull. In religious art and in the icons of the Eastern Church, the skull is commonly found near the base of the cross or close to the person of the Risen Jesus. The legend contends that Golgotha, the “place of the skull” was the burying place of the head of the first man, Adam. The truth which the legend illustrates is that the First Adam who fell in sin has been rescued from hell and death by the Second Adam, Jesus Christ. Remember St. Paul’s words, “as in Adam all die, even so, in Christ, shall all be made to live.” Mary Magdalene knew that death to life experience when Jesus blessed her by casting out seven devils. The next window focuses on the theme of the Gospel for the First Sunday After Easter, in which Jesus appears to the assembled disciples and says “Peace Be Unto You.” The window closest to the entrance is a beautiful representation of the Prayer Book Gospel for the Second Sunday after Easter, The Good Sheppard. The four windows focus on the central theme of our Christian Faith, on which all other tenets of our faith must rest—the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. The theme is especially appropriate in that the Chapel is often used prior to a funeral service as a repository for the bodies of loved ones who have died. To sit quietly and reflect upon the glorious Christian message of resurrection can only be a source of inspiration for those who mourn. Each of the stain glass windows in the Chapel of the Resurrection contains interesting symbols. Most people can benefit by inquiring and discovering the meaning of the symbolism. The experts suggest that a viewer of stain glass should look for three factors in assessing its quality, colour, drawing, and interval. Different colours induce different moods. The light shining through the window varies in intensity at different hours of the day. As a consequence the colours change their hue with the passing hours of daylight. On Sunday morning the rear of the church would be relatively dismal without the enliving colour of the Chapel windows. In bright light people react energetically and the reflective faculty recedes. The windows in the Chapel of the Resurrection are in the west and thus the light is generally sedated giving an atmosphere of reverence, especially just before the sunset. In the drawing factor we look carefully at the details of the faces, the stances of the persons depicted, the garments, or the setting of the scene to discover attitudes or purposes the artist would have us appreciate. By interval is meant the manner in which the colours are placed in relation to each other. When you look at a stain glass window note how your eyes linger on one colour longer than the other, then moves to another area for a shorter time. It is this reaction to the stimulus of colour that gives the whole composition of the window its vitality. It takes time and concentration to really appreciate a stain glass window. When you visit the Chapel of the Resurrection here at Holy Trinity or have an opportunity to view stain glass windows in other churches, try to do so, for the new world of distinctive beauty to be discovered there can enrich our faith and our lives.