The New Testament Windows
All that We Have: The Stained Glass Windows in the Daily Mass Chapel, Part 3
Published on March 9-10, 2013 in the Parish Bulletin of Saint Andrew Catholic Church, Harrodsburg KY
The chronology of the Old Testament windows is continued on the windows on the right. But, unlike the former whose narrative was told from the top to the bottom, these New Testament windows are meant to be “read” from the bottom up.
According to Fr. Schuhmann’s notes, the panel at the base features a sunflower cradled in a manger. The sunflower alludes to the “sun of righteousness” whose rising was foretold by the prophet (cf. Mal. 4:2). That prophecy also speaks of calves in the stall, a foreshadowing of the newborn Christ being “laid in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn” (Lk. 2:7). A crescent shaped image symbolic of night can be distinguished to the right of the crib, reminding the beholder that Christ, “the light of the human race…shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it” (Jn. 1:4-5). The gold crown on this panel evokes His Epiphany to the magi from the east who had come to pay homage to Him who was the newborn King of the Jews (cf. Mt. 2:1-2).
A red monogram called the chi-rho rises from the manger and spills over to the panel above. This symbol is formed from the first two Greek letters of the word “Christ” (Χριστός): chi (χ) and rho (ρ). It is immersed in waves of blue waters, recalling the Lord’s Baptism by John in the river Jordan. A haloed white dove hovers over the chi-rho, calling to mind the Spirit of God descending like a dove upon Christ after His baptism (cf. Mt. 3:16).
A black cross emerges from the way the concrete was set in the middle of the third section. On the left beneath this cross are the instruments of the Lord’s Passion and Death: the three nails of His crucifixion and the lance that was thrust into His side (cf. Jn. 19:34) with the sponge soaked in wine (cf. Mt. 27:48; Mk. 15:36; Jn. 19:29) fixed to its end. On the right is the chalice from the Lord’s Last Supper. Together with the haloed host behind the cross, they stand for the sacrament of the Lord’s sacrifice: the Holy Eucharist celebrated daily in this chapel. The rays emanating from the host extend to form what is called the cross of Saint Andrew, an allusion to the patron of the parish. The flower at the foot of the cross speaks of the Blessed Mother of the Savior who stood by her Son even to His death. Fr. Schuhmann suggests that it also represents the new life that comes from the Lord’s death, the new life that we live with Him because we have been baptized into His death and united with Him in the Resurrection (cf. Rm. 6:3-5).
Finally, at the topmost panel is the image of a fowl rising from the flames. It is the symbol of the phoenix, the blazing bird of legend that rose to new life from its own ashes. Since the earliest days of the Church, the phoenix has been a symbol for the Risen Christ, a sign of His Resurrection, of the new and eternal life that emerged from His suffering and death. A capital ‘Ω’ crowns this image; it the ωμέγα, the last letter of the Greek alphabet. Paired with the άλφα at the top panel of the Old Testament windows, these letters refer to the Lord who “is the first and the last, the beginning and the end” (Rev. 22:13). It is He whose memory we continue to celebrate at every Mass in this chapel, whose second coming we await in joyful hope.