The Stained Glass Windows of Saint Columbâ€™s Episcopal Church
with notes by chief designer Andrew Cary Young
Andrew Cary Young Owner and Chief Designer, Pearl River Glass Studio
n 1978 when St. Columb’s was located on Claiborne Avenue in West Jackson, I was asked by the Baker family to consider making a stained glass window for the sanctuary. This led to the creation of ten stained glass windows for that church. Fast forward almost 30 years later and once again we worked with the St. Columb’s family to provide stained glass windows for the new sanctuary. In the meantime, I joined the church in 1998 and have been a churchman dedicated to the traditions and members of the parish. My beginning thoughts were to honor the traditions of the
church and make windows that were traditional and yet modern at the same time. This is what we accomplished originally on Claiborne Avenue. Some of the themes and designs will be discussed in much more detail following these remarks. When the new nave was under construction, my initial thought was to provide stained glass windows in an opening in each major area of the building, the nave, the chancel, the choir and the chapel. In this way when the church opened for the first Sunday, it would have the effect of stained glass throughout the building.
Andrew Cary Young, Owner and Chief Designer, Pearl River Glass Studio
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Slowly but surely we are filling in the gaps. The first of the clerestory windows to be installed were the Four Gospels. Mark Vaughan, the architect and parishioner of St. Columb’s, provided four rectangular windows and eight pointed Gothic arch windows in the nave. Because the four rectangular windows flank the eight arched windows, it was appropriate to locate the four gospels in these corner windows as they describe how we know what we know about our savior Jesus Christ. The Steinberger family started off the clerestory windows with St. Mark. Each of the gospels has its
own symbol. Matthew is the winged man, Mark is the winged lion, Luke is the winged Ox and John is the Eagle. These particular choices of symbols are suggested in the book of Revelations 4: 6-8. If you look at one of the vacant windows you will notice that the glass pane is set back into the window jamb and that you can see the edges of the surrounding brick. When considering this, I decided to bring the windows forward so that none of the stained glass would be cropped off at the bottom and to provide an inner layer of clear glass with an etched border. This glass is perfectly clear so as to not cut down any available light and has an etched border to camouflage the window jamb and the brick which would have otherwise been visible through the beautiful hand blown antique glass. In this way the focus is on the design of the window and not
a visual distraction. One more salient feature is that each of the clerestory windows uses kiln formed glass in the artwork. Because the windows are seen against the sky, the transparent glass has a tendency to be relatively flat in appearance. I added the kiln formed glass because the irregular surface achieved by melting various layers of color bends the light in an interesting way, giving the window more life and beauty. Looking at a stained glass window is experiential. Simply by moving one’s head from side to side while looking at the window, the optical effect enlivens the window and, I hope, the spirit of the person looking at the window at the same time. We are in the process of completing the other clerestory windows. In the nave will be the Christ as the Great Physician windows. And in the tran-
sept will be the Iona House window and a St. Columba window. For many years St. Columb’s has had a Wednesday healing service. The Great Physician windows honor this tradition. Also, for many years at St. Columb’s the Order of the Daughters of the King has been a large and very active group of women in prayer service to the parish. These windows are meant to reinforce this healing tradition by having the healing miracles of Jesus on view for everyone to see. I prepared the design sketches and developed the iconographic scheme. Rob Cooper, glass artist at Pearl River Glass Studio, is applying his considerable experience, skill and talent in making these windows come to life for all of us to enjoy.
The Saint Columba and IONA House windows, to be placed in the transept.
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The Altar Window T
he altar window is meant to remind us of our St. Columb’s tradition of celebrating the Eucharist, our obedience to the commandment of Jesus to “Do this in remembrance of me” all those who gather in his name. The chalice and host appear as the central focal point of the design composition. Above the cup is the host which is shown as a loaf of round bread. In the middle of this symbol is a dark diagonal shape which represents the action of Jesus breaking the bread. The hand of God is above the host with radiating lines of light emanating from this symbol. The rays move diagonally, unifying the composition with His presence. The rays of light also form a cross that continues into the vertical line of the cross shown on the bowl of the chalice. The subtle gradations of purple and orange in the upper background symbolize the dawn of the resurrection and the promise that God has made for the redemption of the people of Israel. To the left is the
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descending dove as a symbol for the holy sacrament of baptism and to the right the grapes and wheat for Holy Communion. The flowing waters in blue glass flow from the dove down into the scene of Christ’s baptism. Four scenes from the life of Christ across the bottom of the widow depict his birth, baptism, crucifixion and resurrection. These four scenes capture the essential elements of the life of Christ and our own faith journeys. Nativity, Baptism, Crucifixion, Resurrection are shown from left to right. From the sanctuary the parishioner can see that there are pictures in the window. The reward is coming to the altar to receive communion and be close enough then to see the details and to make out the story from the figures in the compositions.
The Lady Chapel Window T
he Lady Chapel was dedicated in memory of Gene and Floyd Sulser in 2010. St. Columbâ€™s traditional Wednesday healing service is celebrated in the chapel. On crowded feast days the chapel becomes a transept for additional seating. The window depicts the fleur-de-lis, a traditional symbol for St. Mary. The fleur-de-lis was the emblem for French royalty and has had an honored place in the library of symbols and images used to adorn the Christian church over many centuries throughout the world. The design composition of the stained glass window includes the quatrefoil, seen also in the rose window. A square is tilted on its end with four circles, one on each side of the square. Three lilies are depicted inside this form as a sug-
donated by Pearl River Glass Studio gestion of the Holy Trinity. One of the unique aspects of this window is the projection of color. The window is located on the south side of the building so it receives the maximum amount of sunlight throughout the year. It is the projection of this color on the walls, floors and surfaces that tells something of the ability of stained glass to spotlight an object with vibrant color. During the year, at the right time, this projection of color lands directly on the Mary of Walsingham shrine. The variety of transparent red colors in hand blown antique glass was chosen for the ability to project a range of red hues. The red is symbolically meant to remind us of the sacrifice that Jesus made on the cross for our sins.
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The I Rose Window
began designing the rose window months before the building was under construction. The first sketch was done during church on a service leaflet. The first theme was having the lightest area of the window in the center surrounded by four circular forms. Christ as the light and His story described to us by the four Gospels became the basic theme idea. Genesis begins with God creating light. Trying to understand the nature of God is certainly a mystery and yet light as a metaphor
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for the omniscient presence is one way to attempt to explain what God is. As we learn in the Old Testament, it was the Jewish tradition that a word for God was not to be spoken because language in any form of description would be limiting and do disservice to our understanding. These theological themes are translated in the language of stained glass - a language of color and light. The story of the life of Jesus Christ is described to us through the four Gospels. The early church fathers chose these four books to tell the story. In the background of the window is a
four sided square form turned on its end. This creates an area to show a central cross. As seen from outside of the church this cross is predominant – the leads are embellished by a coating of 23K gold leaf. The cross form is inspired by the Celtic graphic art tradition of interwoven ribbons of plant and animal forms. Irish monks embellished their copies of the Gospels and other books of the Bible with these mysterious depictions. Intricate pattern designs found in the Islamic tradition are also a way to describe the cosmos. Artists from all cultures know that asking the viewer to become lost in repeating and complicated patterns
is a way to encourage contemplation. The combination of the square and four circles form a quatrefoil – an ancient pattern often used as a symbol for the four books of the gospel story. Superimposed over the Celtic cross is a figure of Christ. This particular form came from a crucifix I saw at the Garner Museum in Boston. I made a sketch of a 14th century Spanish polychromed wood carving of Christ. This drawing became the model for the Christ figure in the window.
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The Healing Scenes Forgiving and healing of a paralytic Matthew 9: 1-8, Mark 2: 1-12, Luke 5: 17-26 This well known story takes place in Capernaum in the winter/spring of A.D. 28, at a house where Jesus is speaking to a group of Pharisees and scribes. Four men lower a stretcher carrying a paralyzed man through the roof into the middle of the room right in front of Jesus. In each of the gospel accounts of this story, Jesus utters the phrase, “so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth .....” This is one of the common themes found among the 25 or so healing stories .... that Jesus performed miracles of many kinds, including healing, to authenticate his being the Messiah. The language used in the book of John when Jesus heals the man born blind affirms this theme as well ... “Neither this man nor his parents sinned” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his (the blind man’s) life.”
Healing of Jairus’ daughter Matthew 9:18-26, Mark 5:21-43, Luke 8:40-56 donated by Sherry and Jerry Vanlandingham and June Boykin This is the first of two stories told together in the gospels. Here Jesus goes to the house of the ruler of a synagogue after hearing that the ruler’s 12 year old daughter has died. He tells the man, “Do not be afraid, just believe.” Peter, John, James, the girl’s father and mother, and Jesus enter the house. The visual inside is compelling. There are flute players and a noisy crowd, wailing and mourning. Jesus tells them to go away and stop wailing. They laugh at him, and then he takes the girl’s hand and says “Talitha koum!” which means “Little girl, I say to you, get up!” Her spirit immediately returns and she stands up and walks around.
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Healing of a woman who touched Jesus’ garment Matthew 9:18-26, Mark 5:21-43, Luke 8:40-56 donated by the King family in memory of Martha Collins Melvin Saik In many of the healing stories Jesus utters the words “Your faith has healed you.” This evolves as another major theme in each of the four gospels. This story, told together with the gospel account of Jairus’ daughter, offers the opportunity for another really compelling visual. It takes place in Galilee, by the lake, in the fall of A.D. 29. While he is on his way to Jairus’ home to attend to his dying daughter, a woman who has been bleeding for 12 years approaches Jesus from behind from among the crowd and touches the edge of his cloak, believing she will be healed. As he turns (and this is what the scene in the window should show) he asks “Who touched my clothes?” because he could feel the power go out of him. She falls at his feet and trembles with fear and told him the truth. And he says,” Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace.”
Healing of a man’s withered hand Matthew 12:9-14, Mark 3:1-6, Luke 6:6-11 This is one of at least five among all the healing stories which takes place on the Sabbath. Three of the five, this one included, take place in a synagogue. The theme of healing on theSabbath is compelling because it gets to the heart of the main conflict between Jesus and the Pharisees, and eventually leads to his arrest, crucifixion and death. In this story Jesus is teaching in a synagogue in Galilee in the summer/fall of A.D. 28. A man whose right hand was shriveled was among those listening. Jesus knew that the Pharisees were looking for a way to accuse him and they watched him closely to see if he would heal on the Sabbath. Jesus, not shying away from the situation, said to the man with the shriveled hand “Stand up in front of everyone.” He then asked the Pharisees, “Which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?” But they would not answer him. He looked around at them in anger and deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts, said to the man ( the visual created by the words in each of the three gospel books is compelling as well) “Stretch out your hand.” He did so and his hand was completely restored.
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Healing the Demonic Child Matthew 17: 14-20, Mark 9: 14-29, Luke 9:37-43 This is a long and colorful healing account detailed in three of the four gospels. Jesus, Peter, James and John had just descended from the mountain where they heard the voice of the Lord proclaim Jesus as his Son. Upon their descent they came upon a large crowd surrounding the rest of the disciples. A man from the crowd yelled “Teacher, I beg you to consider my son. He is my only child. A spirit seizes him and at once he screams, goes into convulsions and foams at the mouth. The child is battered before it finally withdraws. I asked your disciples to cast it out but they were unable.” As a result ofthe man’s petition and faith, Jesus heals his son by casting out the demons, thereby curing his epileptic seizures. Among the most recognized of the language in these gospel accounts are “Oh, unbelieving and perverse generation. How long shall I stay with you?”, “I do believe, Father, help me in my unbelief ’, and finally, “I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘move from here to there’ and it will move.”
Healing the Man Born Blind John 9:1-7 donated by the Covington family in memory of Henry This healing account, found only in the Gospel of John, is widely recognized as one of the masterpieces of storytelling in this book of the Bible. Jesus is in Jerusalem on the Sabbath during the celebration of Tabemacles. Upon leaving the Temple he and his disciples encounter a man blind from birth. The disciples pose the question “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus responds, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be made manifest in him.” As he said this he spat on the ground and made spittle ofthe clay and anointed the man’s eyes with the clay, saying to him, “Go wash in the pool of Siloam”. The blind man went and washed and he returned with his sight restored. The Pharisees, confident of their faith in the Law of Moses yet suspicious of Jesus and his motives, then investigate the healing episode. They pose difficult, if not impossible, questions to both the man and to his parents and eventually expel the man from their assembly. This gospel story involves very prevalent questions being debated among the leadership at that time: healing on the Sabbath and the source of Jesus’ authority. Outside the Temple a man, blind from birth, comes to sight and faith in the Son of Man, while the Jewish leaders themselves move toward blindness.
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Raising of Lazarus John 11:1-44 Of course this is one of the most widely known healing stories, though only told in one of the four gospels. It takes place between Perea and Bethany, near Jerusalem in early (winter) of A.D. 20, not too long before Jesus is arrested and crucified. Lazarus’ sisters Martha and Mary (the same one who poured perfume on the Lord and wiped his feet with her hair) sent word to Jesus, “Lord, the one you love is sick.” After waiting two days, Jesus goes to Bethany to see Lazarus. When he sees him, he is deeply moved in spirit and troubled and “Jesus wept.” In another affirmation of one of the central themes of the healing stories, Jesus says as he looks up to the heavens, “Father, I think that you have heard me. I know that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.” Then he called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out.” The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and cloth around his face. It was not long after this event that the Pharisees and the chief priests called a meeting of the Sanhedrin and made the decision to put Jesus to death.
Jesus betrayed, arrested, and forsaken Luke 22:47-53 This is not a typical healing story, but it is compelling in its own way because it demonstrates Jesus’ compassion and desire to teach and heal others even in the midst of his own very dire circumstances. Each of the four gospels recounts the events of Jesus’ betrayal by Judas and arrest leading up to his death, but only the book of Luke includes details of the healing of the high priest’s servant named Malchus, whose right ear was cut off when Simon Peter struck him with his sword. Judas had arranged to betray Jesus by identifying him with a kiss on the cheek. As soon as he kissed Jesus, waiting sentries seized him. At that moment Simon Peter raised his sword high and struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his right ear. Jesus said “No more of this!” and he touched the man’s ear and healed him. Then the detachment of soldiers with its commander and the Jewish officials bound and arrested Jesus. He said “Every day I was with you in the temple courts, and you did not lay a hand on me. This has all taken place that the writings of the prophets might be fulfilled. But this is your hour - when darkness reigns.” All of his disciples then deserted him and fled.
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St. Mark window donated by the Steinberger family in memory of Seif and June Steinberger St. Matthew, St. Luke, and St. John windows donated by the Tate family in memory of Granville
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The Alpha and OmegaWindow
his is the fourth of the original windows in the church. When the building was being planned, stained glass was always a part of the equation. The first and last letters of the Greek alphabet, Alpha and Omega, are written in the book of Revelation: â€œI am the alpha and omega, the beginning and the endâ€?. In the Christian church these two characters are shown with a cross or other emblem of Jesus Christ in order to complete the symbolism.
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The Arch Window
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