The Evangelist Windows

In order to view these stained glass windows you will have to pass the altar rail and head for the back altar.  As you stand before Burnham’s beautiful Reconciliation window with its deep blues and reds, turn to your left and right. There you will see the Evangelist Windows, also designed and fabricated by Burnham and dedicated on April 7, 1940. Why are they there? The Reconciliation window visually describes the birth of Christ, His deeds and miracles, and His sacrifice. Images of reconciliation abound. We know of these narratives and images through the words of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, and so they are placed to either side of the central theme as a resource to us. The blue and red lines and geometrical shapes incorporated into these two windows tie them back to the central Reconciliation window and themes. 

The Evangelists are presented as symbols—the living creatures surrounding the throne of God  found in Revelation 4:6-8 and Ezekiel 1:5-11. It was St. Irenaeus in the second century who made that connection. The first window on the left presents Matthew and Mark by using their symbols (and then naming them for us). Here Matthew is represented by a man because of his detailed account of Christ’s ancestry and incarnation. The attribute used to portray Mark is a lion. There are several suggestions for why a lion was chosen to represent him. Mark begins his Gospel with John the Baptist, a voice crying in the wilderness—like a roaring lion.  Alternatively, Mark writes of the coming reign of God and a lion is seen as the King of heaven.

The second window on the right presents Luke and John. Luke’s attribute is an ox, a sacrificial animal. He opens his Gospel with the sacrifice of the priest Zechariah and presents the priesthood of Christ in it.  John is represented as an eagle, the creature which soars into the light of the heavens. Light is a particular theme of John’s Gospel, as is the divinity of Christ. 

Why do all of these symbols have wings? In addition to the citations in Revelation and Ezekiel, wings in Christian art are the symbol of divine mission. All the winged creatures representing the evangelists are on the divine mission of spreading the Word and focusing us on reconciliation. Other symbols, frequently found in stained glass windows, also appear here. Grapes and vines symbolize Christ as the true vine. Leaves represent the heavenly gardens.

While not as dramatic as the Reconciliation window, these two windows are a crucial part of the narrative. And more than that…they are an example of the love that the Church of the Reconciliation had for a devoted Rector and the love that Rector had for his wife. The Matthew/Mark window was dedicated to the Reverend S. Wolcott Linsley who was the longest serving Rector of the parish. He spent 28 years at Reconciliation, from 1910 to 1938. In turn, Rev. Linsley dedicated the Luke/John window on the right to his wife Juliette Peck Linsley.

And the stories continue……

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