Posts Tagged ‘religion’

When I first photographed the John La Farge mural Christ Woman at the Well inside Trinity Church in the City of Boston it was late afternoon and I had a much simpler point and shoot camera. The photograph turned out just fine. As I progress as a photographer though it has been fun to revisit works photographed in the past. These photos were taken with a more advanced camera and in the light of the early morning sun shining onto the mural.



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one of two stained glass windows by daniel maher stained glass

one of the two windows depicting, “pentacost,” by daniel maher stained glass

These windows at St. James’s Episcopal Church by local artisans Daniel Maher and Lyn Lovey express a creativity and diversity that is very modern. It is almost startling to look up and see them in the clerestory after viewing older works by Tiffany, Clayton & Bell, Goodhue and others in other parts of the  building. In part that’s because of my own ignorance around stained glass making today and how churches continue to commission their design and installation. Working with glass remains a popular and contemporary art. And in places like St. James, the past and present harmonize quite nicely.

one of a pair of windows designed by lyn hovey stained glass

I’ve lived in Boston for almost twenty years and I can’t even imagine how many times I’ve walked along Massachusetts Ave past this church. When I’ve been tired I’ve stepped into its adjacent garden and sat on the church steps. I’ve always wondered, what was behind the red stone? I’m grateful to the rector, sexton and other staff for allowing me to appease my curiosity and glimpse the beauty inside. Until you can make your visit, below are a few images for you to enjoy. And there’s also a link to a very interesting overview of the windows available online.

Detail from chancel windows …

Detail from one of the choir angel windows …

Detail from the Resurrection window…

Detail from David with Harp …

Detail from Dorcas window …

Detail from Saint Dorothea window …

Detail from the Greenleaf window …

Detail from the Nativity window …


Additional Reading and Links

St. James’s Episcopal Church

Overview of St. James Stained Glass Windows

Daniel Maher Stained Glass

Lyn Hovey Stained Glass



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detail from rice memorial window “christ the light of the world”

As you travel along Massachusetts Avenue in Cambridge, just outside of Porter Square, you will find St. James’s Episcopal Church, a beautiful stone structure designed by Henry Martyn Congdon in a Richardsonian Romanesque style. While the church was founded in 1864, the cornerstone of the particular building in which I peered today was laid in 1888.  Inside is quite a variety of stained and painted glass (and a bell re-cast by Paul Revere!).

While I visited at the wrong time of day and time of year for the best effect, the opalescent windows along the west wall still caught my attention. I visited in early morning in spring but for the windows to be seen as their designers — John La Farge and possibly Tiffany — intended, I will need to visit again in winter in the late afternoon just before sunset.

detail from "jesus the good shepherd"by john la farge

detail from “jesus the good shepherd” by john la farge

I’ve already marked my calendar. 🙂

detail from the batchelder-dexter window, “the mission of the seventy”

I’m still sorting through pictures and their stories. More to come from my delightful visit. Meanwhile you can learn more about the church, its people and the history of the building here: http://www.stjames-cambridge.org/

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virgin & child by charles connick, 1916

Emmanuel Church in the City of Boston is an Episcopal parish located on Newbury Street. Consecrated in 1861 it is a masterpiece among the many architectural treasures to be found in Boston’s Back Bay.  Its history as a place of worship and advocate for social justice for over 150 years are well documented on the church’s website. On the day that I and a friend visited to view the interior, an arts program for the homeless was concluding. Based on brief interactions with some of the participants it is clearly an empowering project, and just one of many offered in service to those in need.  I hope to learn more in the future but on that day my focus was the stained glass windows. From the literature shared by one of the clergy, the stained glass artists whose work can be found in the church include John Ninian Comper, Charles Connick, Frederic Crowninshield, Harry Eldredge Goodhue, Heaton Butler & Bayne, Charles Eamer Kempe, Tiffany, Samuel West and Henry Wynd Young.

incredulity of st. thomas by tiffany glass & decorating, 1890

incredulity of st. thomas by tiffany glass & decorating, 1890

With expansion and construction into the 1920s, there are many different styles represented in the windows of Emmanuel Church.

st. michael killing the dragon by charles eamer kempe, 1901

st. michael killing the dragon by charles eamer kempe, 1901

by harry eldredge goodhue, 1905

adoration of the magi by henry wynd young, after 1918

adoration of the magi by henry wynd young, after 1918

Windows have been lost over time.

Others have been beautifully restored including the church’s signature window, Emmanuel’s Land, comprised of 15 panels of leaded glass with 17 smaller sections of tracery above, and done in the opalescent style made famous by John La Farge, Louis C. Tiffany and Frederic Crowninshield.  Emmanuel’s Land is one of Crowninshield’s largest works.

emmanuel's land by frederic crowninshield

emmanuel’s land by frederic crowninshield, 1899

The window is especially notable because it does not depict a religious scene but instead a scene from John Bunyan’s book, The Pilgrims Progress.

Piety, Discretion, Prudence and Charity show Pilgrim Emmanuel’s Land. The window was designed in memory of Mrs. Howard Payson Arnold, Crowninshield’s mother.

The windows are housed in a structure that has evolved quite a bit over its history from its original construction in 1861.  As the parish grew, adjacent plots of land were purchased and new adjoining structures were built including a parish house, west transept, and two chapels. The Lindsey Chapel was the last to be built between 1920-1924. A poignant tale is at the heart of its construction but I shall save that story and those images for another post.

In this post I’ve shared just a brief glimpse of the windows inside this lovely church. I hope you have the chance to see firsthand. Learn more about the church via the following link:

Emmanuel Church in the City of Boston

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details from life of st. paul's life, by henry holiday of london, 1878

details from st. paul’s life, by henry holiday of london, 1878

During my time visiting Trinity Church in the City of Boston, I have focused my camera on the details of the stained glass windows and the stories behind their creation. Within the church itself there are over 30 windows visible to the public and, less accessible to the public, there are additional windows in the parish house that I refer to as “hidden gems.”

detail from ephphatha by burlison and grylls

detail from ephphatha by burlison and grylls

Significant changes have occurred to the church over time, which you can learn about on the excellent guided tours. It’s the changes that took place in the parish house during the 1940s and 1950s that recently intrigued me. As the parish house was being reconfigured, three stained glass windows were removed.  My curiosity was sparked. What was the story of those “lost” windows? Here’s what I found on my search, not much that wasn’t already known but for me it was a wonderful journey.

An 1888 history of the church describes in detail The Harmon Window.  Designed by Frederick Crowninshield, the window was created in memory of Cordelia Harmon.  Harmon was “Almoner of Trinity Church for many years, and through her good deeds was well known by all the poor connected in any way with the Parish.”  The window depicted Charity composed of “a woman and two half-clothed children in the centre, and a figure with bowed head at the left. Behind is the figure of Christ, with his hand extended over them. Above is the text — Inasmuch As Ye Have Done It Unto One Of The Least Of These, My Brethren, Ye Have Done It Unto Me.” You can read more about Miss Harmon in this previous post Enduring Legacies.

1920s photo of Charity, courtesy of Trinity Archives

In a 1910 history of the church there is a description of The Tuckerman Window.  Designed by artist Francis Lathrop, most well known for his work with John La Farge on the murals of Trinity Church, the window depicted a woman surrounded by her four sons and instructing them from the bible.  According to the history, the woman and the boy at her right are the ones commemorated by the window.  They were Florence Tuckerman and her son Brooks Fenno Tuckerman. The design includes the words, Seek Ye Out The Book Of The Lord And Read. The window was given by Mr. and Mrs. John Brooks Fenno who also gave the window, The Storm on the Lake, located inside the church.

And finally there is The Suter Window. Designed by Charles E. Mills, it was executed by Edwin Ford and Frederick Brooks. It was a gift by Hales W. Suter in memory of his daughter, Gertrude Bingham Suter. “In the lower part of the window is the figure of a young girl, holding a sheaf of wheat.  On the ground before her, there lies a cross, while the path is strewn with roses. Her face is turned upward toward a vision – an angel who points out the New Jerusalem above.  The New Jerusalem is further represented in the smaller window above by the figures of two angels holding between them a crown.”

from Exhibition Catalog for the Boston Architectural Exhibition, 1891

The cartoon above I was able to find in the Catalog for the Boston Architectural Exhibition, 1891.  Such catalogs and similar art and architectural publications from the late 19th and early 20th centuries are increasingly being digitized and made available online. I love online research but it has been a pleasure interacting with archivists and stained glass experts too to learn as much as I did about these windows, the artists and their studios. While my search for now has come to an end, I hope you enjoy this brief glimpse of something beautiful that once was but is now no more except in stories. 😉

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During a recent trip to California, I was standing on a street corner looking up at a church.  As usual, I’d come upon it because I’d gotten lost. I wanted to enter to see what kind of stained glass might be inside but I could tell that mass was about to start and I did not want to disturb the service with the shutter of my camera.  I was about to walk away when a voice behind me said, “Well, why don’t you come inside?” She was an older woman with a bright smile.  “It doesn’t matter if you’re not Catholic. Just sit in the back so you can take a peek.” All but taking my hand, she led me inside.  I did not take pictures that day but I did return and this is a little of what I saw.

Little Flowers

Presentation at the Temple

St. Barbara

St. Ignasius

St. Ignasius

St. Cecilia

St. Cecilia

Detail from Crucifixion

Detail from Crucifixion

Our Lord is Laid in the Tomb

Our Lord is Laid in the Tomb

Detail from Resurrection

Detail from Resurrection



You can learn more about Our Lady of Sorrows church via the following link: http://www.our-lady-of-sorrows-santa-barbara.com/history/

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This post was inspired by the images of Trump (and others) espousing hateful words against those who are different, and the audiences who are looking up at him (and others) with these beautific smiles as if he (and the others) are the second coming of … something.  Trump (and too many others) are playing upon peoples’ fears and I’m not sure what to do except when the opportunity arises to reach out to those who think that I am different, and perhaps fearsome, and hold out my hand.  But sometimes I can’t make myself take my hands out of my pocket and I will excuse myself by saying, “Well, I am not a saint.” But what is a saint? It is a concept found in many cultures and across different religions.

There is a word that I overuse: timeless.  Yet timeless is what comes to mind whenever I read the words of Theodore Parker Ferris in the book, Death & Transfiguration.  It is a small book of sermons he began compiling shortly before his own death in 1972.  The book’s cover is unfortunate I think because these days, especially for people who know nothing of Ferris, they are not drawn to pick up a small book with only those words on the cover in black and green on a white background.  Even when I hold the book, people come up to me and ask what’s wrong, why am I reading a book about death.  I’m not reading a book about death. I’m reading a book about life. About how we live and about how we could live.

I keep returning to a sermon he wrote about saints. In a sermon titled The Unknown Saints he invokes the “image of Christ” – words that fit his life and times.  But looking past that historical and theological specificity to the heart of his message – generalizing his “image of Christ” to encompass the range of behavior we all recognize as holy, however labeled — do not his words fit these times as well?

… we stand before the staggering fact that in a world so steeped in sin, there are still people who live saintly lives.  By sin I mean anything that blurs the image of Christ; anything that blurs his image either in you or in the world.  The word sin means vastly more than that, but seldom can we take in at any one time all that it means.  Right now it means anything that blurs the image of Christ. The pursuit of money as an end in itself is one of the things that blurs the image of Christ. Everyone, of course, has to make a living, and he has the right to have the opportunity to make a living; but not everyone has to make a fortune, and when this becomes the obsession of his life, to make not only the money he needs to live on and a little extra to spare, but to make enough to give him excessive power and inordinate pleasure, then his money begins to blur the image of Christ. It does to his image of Christ what glass wax does to a window before it is wiped off; it cuts off the view.

The bitterness brought to light by a political campaign like some we have been through blurs the image of Christ. It has brought out into the open, and this may be healthy for all I know, hostilities that run deep beneath the well-paved surface of our national life. It has revealed the fact that we are much less mature as people than we thought we were, and perhaps it is better for us to know the truth; but in the meantime this bitterness which is bred by hostility, and this immaturity which it reveals, blurs the image of Christ.  We look at ourselves and at our world through the distortions of the most adolescent political campaign of the twentieth century.

The desire for freedom which rejects every conceivable restraint, where there is no respect for law and order, or decency, or the rights of others, no consideration for other people, this too blurs the image of Christ. We see ourselves and our world through screens of litter, licentiousness, and violence.

The refusal to face facts when the facts hurt; this is another thing that smears the image.  There is a social revolution going on in our country and in our world.  In our own nation a submerged race is reaching for its rights.  If it is not recognized, it will seize by force what those in power refuse to give it.  Thousands of people refuse to face the fact that there is any such revolution going on and, if they do face it, they refuse to face the fact that the people who are reaching for their rights have a right to reach, and that the rest of us will not find it easy to do the right thing when we have done the wrong thing for so long that we have come to think that it is right.

By sin I mean the self-centeredness in your own life which leaves no room for the spirit of Christ.  We all have to cope with this because in a sense we are all self-centered.  We are all deeply concerned about our own lives.  We are made that way, we can’t help it.  But when that self-concern reaches the point where it excludes everything else except the things that concern our own pleasure, our own welfare, or our comfort, when it reaches the point that there is no room left for the spirit of Christ, then that self-centeredness blurs the image of Christ.  In fact it blots it out.

And yet, in spite of the fact that we are living in a world so steeped in sin, there are people who are nevertheless living saintly lives. They are not perfect, not by any means.  They are living imperfect lives, under difficult circumstances, without word of complaint.  They do not win all the games, but they never play a crooked game.  They have their faults but in some peculiar, mysterious way, they are lovable faults. They make mistakes, but their mistakes do not make them. Everyone makes mistakes, but there are some people who are made by their mistakes; they are shaped and molded by them. Other people make mistakes, but their mistakes do not make them; they rise above them, go on in spite of them, and sooner or later master them.

In an un-Christian world, these people are the unknown saints.”

Would Ferris today think that there is a whole industry today in blurring the image of Christ? Clearly there is much money being made in promoting hateful behavior.  Is it behavior that has become so common, so taken for granted, that people do not even recognize what is being done to them and taking place around them?

Just something to think about perhaps. Meanwhile I am grateful for those who are able to take their hands out of their pockets and reach across the aisle.

Please note that the above words by Ferris is just an excerpt of the full sermon.  His book, Death & Transfiguration, can be purchased online and at the Shop at Trinity Church in Copley Square.

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It was a bit of a race against time.  A storm was rolling in. So though we knew we had a few hours before the sun was due to set we didn’t have that great a window of time for light. We raced, as fast as the trolley would take us and then putting foot to pavement, from the Mucha Foundation back to Prague Castle and the St. Vitus Cathedral.  Why? Because at the Mucha Foundation we’d seen a drawing of a stained glass window that Mucha had designed for the St. Vitus Cathedral but he had passed away before seeing it executed. But then while watching a brief foundation video on Mucha we learned that a company had funded the execution of the window and it was in the cathedral.  We made it back to the cathedral in time to purchase a ticket and track down the window. And what a sight it was.

And now there is a race against time to catch a flight home and so I will simply leave you with a few images and a few links. Read more about this amazing artist here: http://www.mucha.cz/index.phtml?S=biog&Lang=EN and http://www.muchafoundation.org/

More to share when I return to the States. Until then, be well.

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Yes, I have sought out stained glass in Prague and what beauty there is to be found like these images from the St. Vitus Cathedral at the Prague Castle.

Only a quick glimpse this trip …

… I hope to visit again for a longer period of time.  The windows were breathtaking as was the light they cast upon the stone.

Learn more about this cherished structure here: https://www.hrad.cz/en/prague-castle/guidepost-for-visitors/st-vitus-cathedral.shtml

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As the previous post suggests, yes, I am on the road for a bit beginning with a return to Dublin, Ireland! A quick trip for work and pleasure, and it was certainly a pleasure to chance upon the Saint Saviour’s Dominican Priory.  I had such a short window of time to photograph that I mostly focused my attention on a few windows. These are details from one window.

Here are details from a second.

Here is the third …

Little literature could I find at the time on the church’s architecture or artwork but the stories can be discerned from the glass.

I found the building by getting lost, but if you are seeking it out, it is located at 9-11 Upper Dorset Street, Dublin 1. Learn more about the priory via the following link: http://www.saintsavioursdublin.ie/

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