Monday, July 6, 2009

Stained Glass Windows - the most overlooked of Church artifacts

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Stained glass windows date back to the Middle Ages (the year 1000 or so) and the construction of the large Gothic cathedrals of Europe. The windows (and the statuary) were designed to portray Old and New Testament stories to congregations, both rich and poor, well born and peasant, were for the most part illiterate. Monks and scholars (most of whom were monks) were generally the only people who could read and write in those days.

Even after the invention of movable type in the 15th century, and the printing of books in large quantities, reading among the populace did not become common until the 18th and 19th centuries. Churches continued to use stained glass to tell religious stories.

Today, with almost universal literacy in most countries, stained glass continues to be used in the construction of most churches, but the perceptive viewer will note that they no longer tell stories as they did in the past. No doubt the cost of stained glass also has something to do with that. Most new churches include clear glass in their original construction specifications and then as the original debt begins to be paid off, interior decoration and stained glass are added to the building.

Anyhow, all this is preparatory to listing some links of beautiful stained glass found in nearby churches that I ran across on the Flickr photo-sharing website on the Internet today.

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