SAINTS PETER & PAUL
If one ventures up the stairs to the church chancel, one additional stained glass window may be viewed on the north wall. This window displays Saints Peter and Paul.
In the left lancet, St. Peter stands holding a box or book containing a small crucifix bearing Jesus. Peter's finger seems to be pointing directly at Christ's head, perhaps indicating that Peter was seen by many as the head of the early church.
Above this figure -- in a small window of its own -- is shown some figures whose elements are open to interpretation. A dark brown cross seems to be resting diagonally on its head, likely representing the inverted crucifixion Peter is said to have suffered. Though dying in a manner similar to Jesus by crucifixion, Peter is said to have requested to be crucified head-downward because he believed he was unworthy to die in the exact same manner as Jesus.
The central element of this small window is a flame, which might refer to any or all of the references below:
- Peter's denial of Jesus by the warming fire (Luke 22: 54-62)
- Peter's speech at Pentecost (Acts, chapters 1 and 2)
- Faith tested by fire (1 Peter 1: 7)
- Fiery ordeal (1 Peter 4: 12)
- The world ending in fire (2 Peter, chapter 3)
- The burning of Rome in Nero's time, blamed on Christians, possibly leading to Peter's execution
Interestingly, one of the symbols most connected with St. Peter is not shown. This symbol is that of one or more keys, representing Peter's holding of the keys to heaven. (In our culture, this function is represented by the idea of Peter being the gatekeeper at the Pearly Gates.)
To the right of St. Peter is St. Paul, after whom both our city and our church are named. Paul stands holding a book in his right hand and a sword in his left. The book may be a reference to the claim that Paul is the traditional author of 14 of the Epistles in the New Testament.
There are at least two references one could attach to Paul's sword. The first is Ephesians 6: 17 -- And take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the spirit, which is the word of God. The second reference may be to the fact that Paul was said to have been killed for his faith by beheading, in a manner similar to St. John the Baptist.
Above St. Paul is a small window containing an anchor and a compass. These likely are symbols of Paul's pilgrimages to spread the faith to the Gentiles, as many of his pilgrimages were taken by sea.
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