Architecture and Art
All Things Bright and Beautiful
Stained glass windows first adorned Christian churches in the 11th and 12th centuries. The windows served two purposes: 1) to provide beauty and light, and 2) to provide instruction for worshipers. At that time, very few people could read and the Bible and Mass were not yet translated into the vernacular. The windows were designed to tell stories drawn from scripture.
Images always play a powerful role, not only as art but as vehicles of worship. Stained glass windows are either pictorial (as in Saint Michael Chapel) or symbolic (as in the Church nave). Such images are not inert; they encroach actively and vividly on the viewer. We are encouraged not merely to look but really to see our windows as an aid to meditation, stillness, prayer or even as in invitation to play “I spy” with a child, always with our eyes open to new revelation.