Part one of an eight part series exploring the Hunt Stained Glass windows in Trinity Cathedral’s Nave. By Bonnie-Marie Yager-Wiggan
I remember my first glimpse of the pink light dancing across the stone floor of Chichester Cathedral and I knew the long bus ride through the Hampshire countryside had been worth it. I paused for moment, turned, and fully faced Marc Chagall’s stained glass window. Installed in 1978, the window depicts the words of psalm 150, “Let everything that has breath praise the LORD.” For Chagall that meant men with fiddles, goats dancing, women and children swirling around the frame. To see this window, the figures alive with light, you feel the joy and experience the beauty.
For centuries stained glass windows have let light and beauty into our churches and places of worship. These windows bring to life the narrative of scripture and invite our minds, hearts, and imaginations to engage with that story—our story. Trinity Cathedral has many beautiful stained glass windows including a series of windows designed and installed by Hunt Stained Glass Studios in 1968. This series of windows depicts Christ present and active in every aspect of life. Each of these windows invites us to see ourselves alongside Christ. Over the coming weeks we will be looking at the eight Hunt stained glass windows in Trinity Cathedral. We will explore their beauty and “read” the stories, our stories, etched in glass.
The first window of the series is entitled “Christ, Our Lord and Savior” and pictures the divine plan of salvation and the divinity of our Lord. The rose window at the top depicts a cloud and rainbow which points to the ancient Covenant between God and humankind, as recorded in the Old Testament Scriptures.
This window speaks of the Triune God. The flames of fire and dove are symbols of the Holy Spirit and God’s presence. To see Christ, the Light of the World, is to see the Father. The sign of the Trinity is portrayed behind the head of Christ sitting on the throne.
Christ is born—the Word becomes flesh. This stained glass window juxtaposes the majesty of the throne and humility and intimacy of birth. The star shining brightly over the holy family, the sign of the Epiphany, reminds us that Christ came as the Messiah for the whole world.
The chalice, or cup, depicts the New Covenant sealed by the Savior’s sacrifice on the cross. As the seed is buried in the ground to bring forth fruit, so Christ, risen from the grave, triumphs over sin and death and offers new life. The crown and cloud represent the Ascension and the future return of our Lord and Savior with power and great glory.
On any given afternoon in Pittsburgh, the sun shines through and blue lights grazes the pews of Trinity Cathedral. The figures come to life in the sunshine. What do you see? What story is being told and where is it leading you?
Almighty God, whose Son our Savior Jesus Christ is the light of the world: Grant that your people, illumined by your Word and Sacraments, may shine with the radiance of Christ’s glory, that he may be known, worshiped, and obeyed to the ends of the earth; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
For more information about the windows, architecture, and history of Trinity Cathedral visit the history section of our website or Trinity and Pittsburgh by Helen L. Harris.