The Stained Glass Windows in St. Mary’s Church

by M. Patricia Gavel -1993

Stained glass window in St.Mary's ChurchA stained glass window is best described as a decorative composition, constructed of hundreds, even thousands of pieces of irregularly cut white and colored glass, bound together by strips of lead. These two materials, glass and lead, have certain characteristics and in making the design for the stained glass, the artist has to preserve these characteristics in the finished art work.

He will not try to imitate the art of painting as if he had a canvas on which oil colors are applied with a brush; he has to think in terms of glazing, that is putting together small and large pieces of colored glass, rather than of painting with a brush. He will be eloquent in his presentation, but he will avoid a naturalistic approach and will not seek “prettiness” in the common sense of the word. His figures and his symbols will always be stylized and since the windows are part of the wall, which is a flat surface, his figures and scenes will be flat, without perspective.

In order to create colorful windows and to assure, at the same time, sufficient light for the interior of the church, the designer has introduced a vertical band, about two feet wide, which is repeated in each window. This band is composed of deep tones and in an effective progressive color scheme; olive green, greenish blue, blue, purple, red and gold. The remaining background area in each window consists of a blending of light tints.

The color scheme of figure work has been carefully worked out in each window to harmonize with background colors and create the necessary contrast. To preserve sparkle of the mouth-blown antique glass, the designer has not made use of any artificial patina. A half-tone controls light and helps to achieve desired expression in the faces.

The name of our church suggested basing the overall theme of window designs on the life of the Blessed Virgin and on her role in the history of our salvation. The series begins, therefore, with a prophetic vision of the Old Testament and finds its conclusion in the scene of “Mother of the Church,” a title given to the Blessed Virgin by Pope Paul at the end of Vatican Council.

The research and documentation of St. Mary's stained glass windows was done by a former parishioner, M. Patricia (Trish) Gavel in 1993.  The photos of our windows were taken and donated by Mark Flannery, a current parishioner and noted landscape architect and architectural and landscape photographer.