Visitors from all over the world come to the cathedral to see our unique and renowned collection of stained glass windows.
The invention of Gothic architecture in mid-12th century France was a move toward minimal structure and large windows, opening up a cathedral to more light. The craft of stained glass, colored by mineral oxides, dated to late Roman times, but the introduction of large window spaces in the Gothic era opened a whole new world of stained glass artistry and iconography. The “jeweled foundations” of the scriptural heavenly city, New Jerusalem, became the jeweled walls of Gothic cathedrals. Windows depicted heroes and sacred stories from the Bible, the lives and legends of saints, royal genealogies and angelic choirs, all ‘readable’ to the largely illiterate churchgoers.
The creation of a traditional stained glass window was/is a complex process. A preliminary sketch is followed by a full scale-cartoon, and selection of prepared glass. The glass is chosen and cut to the sizes and shapes required. Any detail or decoration required is painted on the glass with metallic paint and the pieces re-fired to bond the paint. The glass pieces are then fitted into a lead framework of “cames”, ‘h-shaped’ in cross section, and a completed panel is grouted to make it watertight. A window is made of several panels, strengthened by steel crossbars. Faceted glass, a modern technique, is made up of unpainted thick glass bricks chipped or faceted on the inner-facing edges, and assembled in reinforced cement or resin. A third technique, fused glass, involves manipulation of semi-molten glass, and the addition of glass shards or “frit” to meld with the surface.
Grace Cathedral has a rich collection of stained glass; some 68 named windows by five artists, in three techniques, covering some 7290 square feet. The 34 windows by Charles Connick Studios of Boston comprise the largest Connick collection in the west. America’s acknowledged master of medieval-style glass, Connick windows are especially known for their rich “Connick” blues. Of special note are the Gospel windows (1930) of the Chapel of Grace, and the nearby Blessed Virgin Mary and Twenty-Third Psalm windows. Connick’s Nine Choirs of Angels choir series are the tallest in America, and the two transept façade windows are the largest in the west. More modern in style, but traditionally-crafted, the colorful eastern aisle Willet Studio windows were designed by Marguerite Gaudin. Above are the Canticle of the Sun faceted glass rose window by Gabriel Loire of Chartres (1964) and faceted Human Endeavor windows including Albert Einstein and John Glenn. In the north transept is The Gift, a fused glass window by Narcissus Quagliata (2001). It depicts our Milky Way galaxy within a cloaked human silhouette. One interpretation could be, “The kingdom of heaven is within you.”
For further information contact the cathedral archivist, Michael Lampen, at [email protected].