The stained glass windows
St. Paul's United Church of Christ is graced with a wonderful series of stained-glass windows circling our sanctuary. The artist was Mr. Conrad Pickel, and these windows were designed, created, and installed during the construction of our present church building in 1950.
The descriptions of each window appearing below are taken from the publication: The Past is Prologue - Saint Paul's United Church of Christ - 1879-1979 - Saint Paul, Minnesota. However, the windows' narrative in The Past is Prologue was in turn a reprinting of The Story of Our Windows written by the Reverend Erwin Koch, D.D. and first published in the church's 80th anniversary booklet. (As of this writing in late 2012, no historical church document has been found that definitively explains the elements of the window of Saints Peter and Paul. Any readers knowing about such a document, or with further insight into the symbolism shown for these two saints are encouraged to contact the church office.)
Finally, this section may be navigated in sequence by either scrolling down to the bottom of each page and clicking on the next>> text or by clicking on a listing in the Article Index in the upper right of each page. If you want to view a window in more detail, then you can probably zoom in on the page using controls specific to your web browser. Usually a browser menu contains a View item which will contain a Zoom listing you can click on. Many browsers also allow you to zoom in by pressing the Ctrl, Shift, and +(plus) keys at the same time. Zooming out on the page might be accomplished by pressing the Ctrl and - (minus) keys at the same time.
The ﬁrst window on the south side of the sanctuary depicts the Nativity of our Lord. The divine Child lying in the crib is the focal point of the scene. The movement of the ﬁgures surrounding the child is meant to draw our eyes towards the newborn Saviour. Mary, His mother, is shown kneeling down in love and adoration. In the background, we see Joseph, the pious and devoted protector of Jesus. The shepherd's staff he is holding in his hands is a symbol of his duty entrusted to him by God. In the upper left we see the star of Bethlehem sending its rays down to earth. Two shepherds, standing in the middle of their sheep, are watching the scene from afar.
The right lancet depicts the shepherds who have hastened to the stable to adore the Saviour. They represent men of different ages and characters. In the foreground we have a kneeling shepherd, a heroic and youthful type, offering his hands to the service of the Lord. His face expresses enthusiasm and firm decision. Then we have the mature man looking up to heaven and thanking the Lord for the grace to see his Saviour. The third shepherd, an elderly man, with an inquisitive look on his face, watches the child with wonder and surprise. Two shepherd boys are looking on from the field. The upper section of the right lancet shows the angel of the Lord who had brought the good news to the shepherds in the ﬁeld. He appears in a stylized cloud to symbolize that he is sent from above, from heaven. The landscape is indicated with some suggestions on the background: the hills of Judea in the upper right section and the city of Bethlehem, in the two lower sections, is symbolized by dome- shaped oriental buildings.
This window depicts the manifestation of our Lord to the world. He appears to the three Magi as told in the Gospel, and He appears to all the nations of the world by the preaching of the missionaries. The Christ Child is again the central point of the window. Depicted on a large aureole, symbolizing His supernatural origin and divine power, He appears as a vision to the men who sought Him. The tri-radiant halo around His head symbolizes the Holy Trinity; Christ is the Word that has become ﬂesh. The three kings offer their gifts to the King of kings. One king, clad in royal ermine and wearing a colorful headgear, offers a vase with myrrh. A second king, having taken off his crown, is humbly kneeling down and presents the divine Child with nuggets of gold. A third king (right lancet) offers the frankincense; the burning censer is standing in the lower left.
The upper sections of the window illustrate various activities of the missionaries throughout the world, and three outstanding missionaries are depicted in particular: Albert Schweitzer, David Livingstone, and Oscar Lohr. Their likenesses are portrayed with a few characteristic lines. In the upper right we see a missionary conferring the Sacrament of Baptism. With a shell, the ancient symbol of baptism, he is pouring the water of rebirth. The stylized waves of water symbolize the oceans which the missionaries have to cross to reach their mission fields. In the upper left, a missionary is depicted taking care of the sick. A third missionary is holding a book (Bible) to symbolize the preaching and the teaching. The various mission ﬁelds of our church are represented by a series of buildings: we see a typical arabaic structure (Iraq), a house of western style (South America), a house with a typical Japanese setting, an Indian temple, a Chinese pagoda, a church in mission style (Honduras), and an African Kraal.
CHRIST BLESSES THE CHILDREN
The central theme of the window to the left of the Epiphany window in the south wall of the nave is “Christ Blessing the Children”. “And they were bringing children to Him that He might touch them; and the disciples rebuked them. But when Jesus saw it He was indignant, and said to them, ‘Let the children come to me, do not hinder them; for to such belong the Kingdom of God. Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the Kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.’ And He took them in His arms and blessed them, laying His hands upon them.” (Mark 10:13-16)
This biblical scene is portrayed in a deeply symbolical way. In a time when prejudice among races hovers like a dark cloud over mankind our Lord is shown calling to Him children of all races: a white girl clad in today's dress, an American Indian girl, a boy from Asia wearing a turban, a little black boy playing on the ground. Jesus invites them all to come to Him and receive His blessing. His love embraces the children of all races and nations; His love is color blind. The children are led to Christ by a mother, holding her baby in her arms.
The trees following the contour of the group symbolize the spiritual shelter they find in Christ, and also suggest that these children are in the spring-tide of life. The small design in the upper left shows a millstone, signifying Christ’s admonition: “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened round his neck and to drown in the depth of the sea.” (Matthew 18:6)
The lower section of the left lancet depicts the conferring of Holy Baptism on a little child. On the left we see the parents, in the center the minister pouring the water of regeneration on the child’s head, and on the right the sponsors.
The design in the lower right lancet shows the second important event in the child’s life: the Rite of Conﬁrmation. The minister stands before the altar, confirming the boy and girl. The oil lamp and the book symbolize the religious and scientiﬁc education received by our children.
THE CALLING OF THE DISCIPLES
“Follow Me” is the appropriate theme of this window. With these two words Jesus calls His disciples from their ordinary ways of life. Some are simple ﬁshermen like Peter and his brother Andrew (Matthew 4:18), James and his brother John (Matthew 4:21). They follow their daily routine day after day, casting their nets into the sea and mending their nets in the evening. Then Jesus comes along, and by these simple words, “Follow Me,” the ﬁshermen become ﬁshers of men. This biblical account is depicted in the upper sections of the windows and in the coat of arms of the twelve apostles.
One of the disciples, however, belonged to a class despised by the Jews. He was Levi, or Matthew, a tax collector for the Roman emperor. The calling of this man, in whom others could see little good, is the main theme of this window. “After this He went out, saw a tax collector sitting at the tax office and He said to him, "'Follow Me.’ And he left everything and followed Him.” (Luke 5:27-28). With these brief words St. Luke describes the calling of the man who became an apostle and the author of the ﬁrst Gospel.
In the window we see Christ as He turns to Levi. The Lord’s loving gaze and the inviting gesture of His hands compel Levi to look up from his work. Then the grace of God in Christ transforms him, and now for the ﬁrst time he seems to grasp the real meaning of life and puts from him the money he has collected from his fellow men for the Roman oppressor. The coins fall to the ground just as his former life falls from him. “Behold, I make all things new.” (Revelation 21:5)
From the time of the apostles to this very day the words of Jesus, “Follow Me,” are addressed to every man, woman and child. From every continent and from all walks of life have come those who have taken Jesus’ words seriously. The path that is the way to Christ is shown in the window by representatives of different vocations: the minister, the nurse, the mother, the man who works with his hands, the physician, the teacher, the scholar, and the host of others who have dedicated their time and talents, their labor and their skills, to the glory of God and the service of their fellow men.
THE SERMON ON THE MOUNT
The window depicts Christ the Teacher giving His Sermon on the Mount. This sermon, reported by St. Matthew in chapters 5-7, is a summary of the new law of love that Christ is giving to His people. Christ is portrayed seated on the mount that raises Him above the worldly environment which too often is pervaded by selfishness, prejudice and pride. His hands are raised in the solemn gesture of one who is teaching eternal truths. He proclaims the eight Beatitudes, which are in marked contrast to what the world in general teaches and believes.
The Beatitudes, far from being passive or mild, are a gauntlet flung down before the world’s accepted standards. They are the substance of the Sermon on the Mount, the mountain itself suggesting the new Sinai, for here is the new law of love. The artist has incorporated the Beatitudes in this window using symbolical figures and designs.
“Blessed are the poor in spirit.” This Beatitude is represented by the parable of the publican and the Pharisee (lower left lancet). Two men are depicted as they appear in the temple; the Pharisee expressing haughty self-pride, standing before the altar, and the publican standing humbly in the background. He does not dare to lift up his eyes, praying only, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner.” The publican represents the poor in spirit, because “everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will he exalted.” (Luke 18:14)
“Blessed are they that mourn.” Among those who have followed the Lord to the mount is a woman who mourns. She represents all who have experienced the burden of sorrow, and she listens in quiet trust to the promise of the Saviour. From Him comes words of comfort and hope, for He is the Resurrection and the Life. To Him we commit those who have ended their earthly pilgrimage.
“Blessed are the weak.” This Beatitude is symbolized by the calm serenity ofa child whose hand rests upon a lamb. “Unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven.” (Matthew 18:3) Christ Himself was the Lamb of God, Whose meekness was stronger than the strength of the mighty.
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness.” This is symbolized by the birds that drink from the pure water springing from the rock, and reminds us of the great words of the Prophet Amos, who said, “Let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever flowing stream.” (Amos 5:24)
“Blessed are the merciful.” This Beatitude is illustrated by the parable of the Good Samaritan. The Good Samaritan ministers with tender compassion to the unfortunate stranger who lies wounded by the wayside, in marked contrast to the priest and the Levite who continue their journey with no concern for the man needing help. When Jesus told this story, He asked which of the three proved to be the good neighbor. The answer was, “The one who showed mercy.” And Jesus said, “Go and do likewise.” (Luke 10)
“Blessed are the pure in heart.” The ﬂeur-de-lis is a symbol of purity in ecclesiastical art, and is so represented in the window.
“Blessed are the peacemakers.” This Beatitude is symbolized by a dove with an olive branch.
“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake.” Persecution is symbolized by the chain, the tool of tyrants. The crown signifies our Lord's promise that those who are persecuted for His sake and the Gospels will inherit the Kingdom.
The balcony window on the south side portrays the major prophets of the Old Testament, and the prophet who served as a link between the Old Testament and the New, John the Baptist.
In the left lancet Isaiah stands in the presence of the Lord. He is overwhelmed by his sense of worthiness and sin and cries out, “Woe is me! For I am lost: for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips . . .' Then flew one of the Serafin to me, having in his hand a burning coal which he had taken with tongs from the altar. And he touched my mouth and said, behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin forgiven.’ Then said I, "Here I am! Send me.” (Isaiah 6:5-9)
Underneath the ﬁgure of Isaiah the Prophet Daniel is portrayed. Daniel was thrown into the lions’ an because he prayed to the God of Israel. But, “God sent His angel and shut the lion's mouth, and they have not hurt me because I was found blameless before Him.” (Daniel 6:22)
The right lancet shows the Prophet Jeremiah, and in the background the ruins of Jerusalem, destroyed by the king of Babylon. “How lonely sits the city that was full of people! How like a widow is she become, she that was great among the nations.” (Lamentations 1:1) But Jeremiah also brings a great word of hope: “For I know the plans that I have for you, says the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, I will hear you.” (Jeremiah 29: 11 & 12)
The top section of this lancet portrays the calling of the Prophet Ezekiel: “And when I looked, behold, a hand was stretched out to me, and lo, a written scroll was in it; and he spread it before me . . and he said to me, "Son of man, eat this scroll and go and speak to the house of Israel.'” (Ezekiel 3:1)
The large figure in the two lower sections depicts the prophet who was the forerunner of Jesus. He is clad in a garment of camel's hair, holding a lamb in his arms, which recalls his prophecy: “Behold, the Lamb of God, Who takes away the sin of the world.” (John 1:29)
HARVEST & THANKSGIVING
In the large windows in the nave we have followed our Lord Jesus Christ from His birth in Bethlehem to His death on the cross, the resurrection, and His enthronement in glory. He is our Teacher, our Saviour and Redeemer, Who calls on us to help Him in the work of His Kingdom. With deep humility we thank him for the gifts of divine grace and all good gifts with which He blesses us.
The balcony window on the north side symbolizes our prayer of thanksgiving, and our need for continuing as workers together with God. “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; pray therefore to the Lord of the harvest, to send out laborers into His harvest.” (Matthew 9:37)
In the right lancet a woman gathers in the sheaves, and men carry a cluster of grapes. This group reminds us of the fruit which the people of Israel found in the Promised Land: “And they came to the valley of Eschol and cut down from there a branch with a single cluster of grapes, and they carried it on a pole between two of them.” (Numbers 13:23)
For our forefathers America was the Promised Land. The ship in the upper left suggests the arrival if the Pilgrim Fathers in this country, to which they came to find freedom to worship God. They knew that “man does not live by bread alone.” The communion cup and the bread symbolize the gifts of nature, which become gifts of divine grace in the Sacrament of Holy Communion.
A man kneels for a prayer of supplication and thanksgiving for blessings received and for help from above.
The Miracle Window portrays the power and the majesty of our Lord as revealed in His mighty works. “Jesus of Nazareth was a Man approved by God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did through Him in your midst.” (Acts 2:22) A storm is raging and the waves of the sea threaten to engulf the little boat in which the terror-stricken disciples are “crossing to the other side.” They have awakened their Lord and cry out, “Master, do You not care if we perish?” Jesus stands in the boat, calm, serene, and majestic, commanding the wind and the sea to obey Him. To His frightened disciples He says, “Why are you afraid? Have you no faith?” (Mark 4:35-41)
The words inscribed in the window, “Peace, be still,” are directed not only to the angry winds and waves, but also to the disciples whose faith has been swallowed by their fears. Blessed are they who still hear these words of the Lord in the midst of the storms and tempests of life!
In the lower left lancet, Jesus is portrayed in the midst of His miracles of healing, The sick kneel before Him, their hands outstretched in supplication, and the Great Physician makes them whole again. There is much about sickness and suffering that we do not understand, because, “now we see through a glass darkly,” but one thing we do know: those who suffer and turn to the Lord find themselves to be “more than conquerors through Him Who loved us.”
Two miracles are portrayed in the lower right lancet. The raising of Lazarus from the dead (John 11:1-46) is a symbol of our own promised resurrection and the power of Jesus over death and the grave. Jesus as the Prince and Pioneer of life says, “Lazarus come forth!” To the man who was brought to Him for healing by four of his friends, the Master says, “My son, your sins are forgiven.” (Mark 2:5) In the background are the four friends, the symbol of all those who spare no effort to bring others to the Lord. Because of the throng gathered about the door these four men had lowered their friend through an opening in the roof.
Thus the window portrays the four kinds of miracles through which Jesus manifested His power: the nature miracles, the healing of the sick, the raising of the dead and the forgiveness of sins. May we be reminded that “as many as received Him, to them gave His power to become the sons of God even to them that believe on His Name.” (John 1:12)
The Reformation Window has as its main theme the conversion of St. Paul. The man who was later to become an apostle is shown at the moment of his soul-stirring experience, when suddenly “there shined round about him a light from heaven, and he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, "Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou Me?” (Acts 9:34) Amazement, wonder, and dread are de- picted in the face of Saul, who later came to be known as Paul, and he attempts to shield himself from the blinding light. In one hand he carries a sword, symbolic of the fact that he was on his way to Damascus, “breathing out threatening and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord,” (Acts 9:1), but also of his great words: “Take unto you the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and, having done all, to stand . . . taking the shield of faith . . . the helmet ofsalvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.” (Ephesians 6:133) In the upper right lancet is the risen and ascended Lord Who called upon Paul to be His follower.
Centuries later the light of the Gospel truth was revealed to people who learned through patient study of God’s Holy Word that “the righteous shall live by faith.” The Gospel was rediscovered, and the great work of the Reformation was begun. In the lower left lancet a castle-fortress reminds us of Martin Luther's stirring hymn, “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God.” Superimposed on the castle is a parchment, symbolizing the famous 95 Theses which were nailed to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg on October 31, 1517. The appearance of the Theses was the trumpet-blast which heralded the coming of the Reformation,
In the lower right lancet the Figure of Luther is shown as he stands before the emperor at Worms and fearlessly says, “My conscience is captive to Word of God, I cannot and will not recant anything, for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. Here I stand, I cannot do otherwise. God help me. Amen.”
Our Evangelical and Reformed Church pays tribute not only to the spiritual insight of Martin Luther, but to all those heroic men of God who believed in the cardinal principles of Protestantism: the right of private judgment by the inspired and enlightened individual, justification by faith, the supreme authority of Scripture and the universal priesthood of all believers. For that reason there is included in the Reformation window the portraits of the spiritual giants Calvin, Zwingli, and Melanchthon. The Evangelical and Reformed Church recognizes the contribution made by sincere men and women of all Christian denominations, and the words inscribed in the window have a deep meaning for us: “In essentials unity, in non-essentials liberty, in all things charity.”
High in the left lancet is the symbol of the World Council of Churches, with the Greek word “Oikoumene,” signifying our longing for understanding and unity among Christians.
The Redemption Window portrays the climax of our Lord's Passion and the central event in all human history. Our Lord is hanging on the cross, as the Lamb of God “Who takes away the sin of the world.” (John 1:29) The altar of His sacriﬁce is the cross, rendered in a glowing red to symbolize the blood shed on the cross, as well as our sins: “Though your sins are like scarlet, they will be as white as snow.” (Isaiah 1:18)
After the long spiritual and physical struggle, our Lord looks up to heaven and pronounces His last words: “Father, into Thy hands I commit My spirit.” (Luke 23:46)
In this tragic hour on Calvary, Christ preserves His dignity as the Son of God. The great suffering was not able to break Him down, because He laid down His life of His own accord. (John 1:17) The willingness to surrender His will to the Father’s is depicted in the scene in the upper left which shows Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane: “Father if Thou art willing, remove this cup from Me, neverthe- less not My will but Thine be done.” (Luke 22:42)
Beside the cross we see Mary, the Saviour’s mother, supported in her sorrow by St. John the beloved disciple. In their suffering they stand together, because Jesus has just said to them: “Woman, behold thy son . . . behold thy mother.”
Extraordinary events of nature accompany the death of our Lord: the sun is darkened and lightning strikes from heaven.
Under the cross of Christ, we see two smaller crosses with the malefactors who were cruciﬁed with Him. The one on the right is collapsed in despair, while the other on the left is looking up in confidence to Jesus. He says, “Jesus, remember me when Thou comest into Thy Kingdom.” His word, “Remember me,” is used as the inscription of the window.
Through Christ's death on the cross we have regained the grace of the Father. This thought is illustrated by the parable of the prodigal son, shown in the lower section on the left. The repentant son, having wasted his substance, is returning to his father who receives him with open arms. In the background we see the house with the open door. On the left we see the other son, who had never left his father's house, working in the field. When we return from the far country of our sin, God the Father welcomes us home.
The scene on Calvary is followed by the triumphant message of Easter morning, the message of victory over death and sin. It is the fulfillment of Christ’s mission on earth, a promise of our own resurrection.
The triumphant ﬁgure of Christ rising from the tomb dominates all else in the window. Although we see the wounds in His hands and feet and side, our Lord is vigorously and gloriously alive again.
His wounds and the three empty crosses on Calvary are reminders of the terrible struggle of the preceding days. From now on the cross will be looked at as the sign of new life. That is why it is shown on top of the banner of victory which Christ is holding. The soldiers of the guard, representatives of the earthly power, are shaken and blinded and turn away from the miraculous vision. In the upper right we see the angel of the Lord who had rolled away the stone from the sepulcher.
The main ﬁgure in the right lancet is Mary Magdalene to whom Christ had appeared first. (Mark 16:9) Her whole figure expresses astonishment and surprise.
The entire scene is illuminated by the rising sun, its rays spread over both lancets of the window.
A few smaller designs are used to symbolize the glorious event of the Resurrection: the lilies have pierced the ground and appear suddenly in their white splendor. The pomegranate is bursting and shows the precious fruit that is hidden in its shell. The butterfly, sleeping as a chrysalis, is touched by the warming sunlight and starts a new life among the ﬂowers of the ﬁeld.
The scene in the lower left depicts the scene at Emmaus. “When He was at table with them, He took the bread and blessed, and broke it, and gave it to them. And their eyes were opened and they recognized Him.” (Luke 24:30)
“Let everything that breathes praise the Lord.” These words of the Psalmist are almost hidden by a moving rhapsody of color and figures, and set the mood for the third stained glass window which was installed in the north wall of the nave of the church.
Since this window eventually brings to conclusion the glorious story of the faith and life of the Christian Church, it is appropriate that in the light of Christ's redemption and the heritage which we treasure in countless Christian lives, the spirit of exaltation and praise should be depicted. So the artist has emblazoned this theme by showing David, the sweet singer of Israel, and its noblest king, lifting up his voice and harp with gladness to God. His face is radiant and ﬁlled with hope and expectancy. We cannot help but follow his line of vision and our attention leaves the left lancet of the window and centers to the right upon the splendor of the ﬁgure of Christ, the fulfillment of Israel’s hope for a Messiah.
He is the true King of heaven and earth. All the longing for a Redeemer King and all joy in God are complete in Him, Who reigns in love, majesty and power. The words from St. Luke's Gospel sum up the theme: “And of His Kingdom there shall be no end.”
As in a symphony, the artist, Mr. Conrad Pickel, permits the various portions of the window to reﬂect this main theme of praise to God in Christ through every medium and talent of life and creation. The trumpet and the harp represent all the instruments of praise while below one sees Johann Sebastian Bach, the master of sacred music. Bach’s music often carried the superscription: “Alone to the glory of God.” John Milton represents poetry and literature dedicated to God. The colors, lines and columns stand for the best in art and architecture dedicated to the King of Beauty.
In the lower portion of the left lancet are ﬂowers and birds surrounding St. Francis of Assisi, indicating nature praising God in the sanctuary and outside of it. As the glance sweeps upward and encircles both lancets of this window, one perceives the ﬁre of the spirit glowing with light from God. And the moon and little cherubs all run their course in quietest exaltation with every known thing.
In a most gifted manner has the artist caught the rapture and adoration of praise by portraying two choirs which give a sense of celestial movement as they sweep through heaven and earth. There is the earthly chorus to which you and I belong. It is moving heavenward, and you feel that some great unseen power lifts the singers beyond themselves as they stand in ecstasy on their tiptoes. Then there is the choir of angels above them joining in homage and adoration to the enthroned Christ, as told in Revelation 7:11: “And all the angels stood around the throne and worshiped God.”
The world is held like a little globe in the hands of Christ the King. All things are within His dominion and power. So is your and my life. That is the reason for both praise and consecration of our lives to Him Who reigns forever. That is why a truly Christian life sings with praise as it sees God's glory in all things.
class=The right lancet shows the Prophet Jeremiah, and in the background the ruins of Jerusalem, destroyed by the king of Babylon. “How lonely sits the city that was full of people! How like a widow is she become, she that was great among the nations.” (Lamentations 1:1) But Jeremiah also brings a great word of hope: “For I know the plans that I have for you, says the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, I will hear you.” (Jeremiah 29: 11
SAINTS PETER & PAUL
If one ventures up the stairs to the church chancel, one additional stain glass window may be viewed on the north wall. This window displays Saints Peter and Paul.
In the left lancet, Saint 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 1, chapter 2]
- Faith tested by fire [1 Peter 1:7]
- Fiery ordeal [1 Peter 4:12]
- 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 Saint 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 Saint Peter is Saint Paul, after whom both our city and 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 a verse in 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 killed for his faith by beheading, in a manner similar to Saint John the Baptist.
Above Saint 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.