Lent Reflections on our Stained Glass Windows

Reflections on themes from our stained-glass windows for the 40 days of Lent, by the Vicar, Fr Kevin Morris, and the Curate, Fr Thomas Couper.

Introduction

There is an oft-quoted story of a priest who asks a group of children: ‘What is a saint?’ Looking up at the church windows, one replied, ‘Someone who lets the light through.’

It is an excellent definition and, of course, a good example of the significance of stained-glass windows in the teaching of Christians through the ages. After all, such windows were not simply decorative but a medium through which the story of Christianity could be expressed. So, from the 7th century until the present day, stained-glass windows have beautified our sacred spaces and inspired our understanding of the Christian faith.

St Michael and All Angels Bedford Park was consecrated in 1880 and the first of its stained-glass, the East window, was added in 1887. The last was installed in 1952 – a replacement, in fact, for the East window which was destroyed during the war (see more below).

I hope these reflections inspire a greater interest in the history and theology of our windows and that you will take the opportunity to look at them more closely within the building itself. As we reflect on the themes of these windows, may we be brought closer to that Light which illumines the saints, and, which, we pray, may also illumine our own lives. May this Lenten devotion and serve to inspire our faith in Christ.

How to use these reflections in your prayer time

Click the links below to read the illustrated Reflections on our stained glass windows.
Photographs of the windows by David Beresford. Click the images to show them full-size.
Read pithy summaries of the Reflections in our daily tweets.

1. The Hierarchy of Angels

The Hierarchy of Angels – Ash Wednesday
The theme of this window (seen on the left, as you walk into the church by the main doors) is the ‘Hierarchy of Angels.’ It is designed by James Powell and Sons, who were closely associated with the leading Arts and Crafts architects and designers of the day, such as Burne-Jones, William de Morgan and William Morris. It is dedicated to Howard Unwin JP, a civil engineer (1837-1911) who for twenty years was Managing Director of the Earl of Shrewsbury’s company in London which supplied pneumatic tyres for Hansom cabs: the Shrewsbury and Talbot Noiseless Tyre Company.

Beginning Lent by reflecting on angels is a fitting subject for a church dedicated to the Holy Angels.
Each panel is discussed in turn below.


Seraphim (left) – Thursday after Ash Wednesday
Cherubim – Friday after Ash Wednesday

Thrones (right) – Saturday after Ash Wednesday

Dominations – Monday in Week 1
Virtues – Tuesday in Week 1
Powers – Wednesday in Week 1

Principalities – Thursday in Week 1
Archangels – Friday in Week 1
Angels – Saturday in Week 1

 

Click the links below to read the illustrated Reflections on our stained glass windows.
Photographs of the windows by David Beresford. Click the images to show them full-size.

2. The East Window

East Window – Monday in Week 2
St Michael’s was not directly bombed during the War but suffered from the blast of a flying bomb that demolished the Arts College in the Bath Road. Several stained-glass windows in the church were blown out and destroyed, including the East window. A new East window (right) was installed in 1952, the work of Lawrence Lee using a preliminary design of Martin Travers, a pre-eminent church artist of the Anglo Catholic movement, who died in 1948. Travers had lived for a while in the Bath Road, during which time he designed the St Michael window in the ‘All Souls Chapel’.

 

East Window – The Holy Trinity:
God the Father – and the ‘Hand of God’ (right) – Tuesday in Week 2
God the Son (left) – Wednesday in Week 2
God the Holy Spirit (right) – Thursday in Week 2

Mary Queen of Heaven – Friday in Week 2
Archangel Michael – Saturday in Week 2

East Window – The Sacraments (by Fr Thomas Couper):
The Seven Sacraments – Monday in Week 3

 

Watch here for further Lent Reflections, day by day.
Back to Lent at St Michael & All Angels