On Sunday, July 19th, our parish will welcome the two newest stained glass windows to arrive from Beyer Studio in Philadelphia. They represent the second of three stages of windows we expect in this project. We call these highly pictorial windows our Garden Windows in that both the Agony in the Garden (that faces the evening sun) and the Resurrection encounter in the Garden (that faces the morning light) are events that take place in garden settings. As such, they will make for beautiful transitional windows from the outside to the inside.
The subject matter of these windows relates to the Triduum of Holy Week, and gives witness to a principle truth we as Catholics are called to preach to all: the death and resurrection of our Savior. These windows are also appropriate in that the Narthex is where the caskets of our beloved dead will be brought into the church for the last time, surrounded by family and loved ones. And in that setting, how appropriate it is that on one side of the Narthex will be a depiction of our Lord’s confrontation with and acceptance of His own human mortality, whereas on the other side of the Narthex will be the moment His triumph over death is first revealed to His disciple, St. Mary Magdalene.
In one window, the Lord ponders His final act of obedience to the Father after a lifetime of perfect obedience to the Father, and in the other window, our humanity is given a glimpse, for the first time, of just what that obedience affords us, which is eternal life. Both Garden Windows also include texts from canticles or chants. The Agony in the Garden window includes part of the Philippians Hymn, which is likely one of the oldest hymns in our Church. This is a hymn praising Christ for His humility and obedience. On the other hand, the Resurrection window includes a portion of the great Easter Sequence, where Mary Magdalene declares to the Church that she has encountered the risen Lord.
Each of these Garden Windows are complex compositions, containing nearly 1000 pieces of stained glass, painted through three cycles of firing, and finally glazed together by lead. Each window incorporates trees and flowers. The Agony of the Garden Window incorporates the olive tree and purple irises representing penance. The Resurrection Window incorporates our local dogwood tree and white lilies that we so associate with Eastertide in Georgia.
We want to thank those families who so generously donated towards these beautiful windows, and to express our gratitude to the artists of Beyer Studio, and in particular Joe and Rita Beyer, for their ongoing efforts to make our little parish in the mountains one of the most beautiful churches in the state.