Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Stained Glass from the Past

Another great item this week from the Project's mailbag: The Saint Joseph's University Stained Glass Collection.

Saint Joseph's goal is to eventually establish a permanent exhibit of Philadelphia and non-Philadelphia area stained glass. They even published a book on Philly stained glass! (Hold on a second; the Project needs to make an addition to its Christmas list.)

Lucky for us, in the meantime they have created an online gallery of stained glass photography. The gallery features high-quality images of many stained glass windows from closed parishes, including North Philadelphia Swath of Destruction victims St. Elizabeth, St. Edward the Confessor, Our Lady of Mercy and St. Bonaventure, among others.

St. Elizabeth of Hungary Feeds the Poor. St. Bonaventure Church, Philadelphia.

The sheer craftsmanship and artistry of these pieces is astonishing, and almost certainly surpasses anything that could reasonably be constructed today. Unfortunately, seeing these also heightens the disappointment that the grand churches that once housed them are also gone.

Still, enjoy it for what it's worth. A real treat.


  1. Au contraire, mon frère,
    Windows like this can and are still being made. It is the cost factor that limits the design ideas.
    The churches are not willing to pay for it. Or they simply do not have the funds for such works of art.

  2. I agree with you, but that's why I said "reasonably." Certainly, with enough money anything is still possible. It's just not a reasonable undertaking for most churches these days. (Current architectural styles don't embrace it anyway, but that's another story.)

  3. The new churches don't have to pay for it.

    The city churches are closed and looted for whatever the churches in the 'burbs need.

  4. Speaking of St. Elizabeth (1872-1993), the Archdiocesan Offices at 17th & Arch have statue from that church in their front yard.

    I remember hearing somewhere that it had been demolished in 1995.

  5. The churches in the burbs don't need much, as so many of them are what Michael A. Rose describes as "Ugly as Sin." A big table altar, a UFO cross suspended from the ceiling, understated iconography, no altar rails. They are like large gyms or secular conference halls. Another tragedy, to be sure.