St. Paul's - Table of Contents

2009 Photos - Ascension Stained Glass Window Above the Main Altar
St. Paul Episcopal Cathedral
128 Pearl Street, Buffalo NY

St. Paul Episcopal Cathedral - Official Home Page

The Ascension window was designed and executed by Henry Holliday & Co. of London, England at a cost of approximately $3,000 (cost $70,722.19 in 2009), and was installed in 1889.

The biblical text on the window is taken from Acts of the Apostles 1:9-11: "After Jesus had said this and while they were watching, he was taken up into a cloud. They could not see him, but as he went up, they kept looking up into the sky. Suddenly two men dressed in white clothes were standing there beside them. They said, "Why are you men from Galilee standing here and looking up into the sky? Jesus has been taken to heaven. But he will come back in the same way that you have seen him go." 

The event took place on the mount of Olives, east of Jerusalem, between Bethany and the Holy City (Luke 24:50, Acts 1:12) and was accompanied by the appearance of two angels (Acts 1:10). The event took place forty days after the resurrection (Acts 1:3).

See also: Iconography in Art and Architecture: Ascension and   Stained Glass - Table of Contents

The Great East Window of St Paul's Cathedral, Buffalo, New York.

By Martha Neri
Parish Historian
March 7, 2011

The Great East Window, as it is known in the Cathedral, depicts the story of the Ascension of Christ.  It was made in the London studio of Henry Holiday (1839-1927), an English stained-glass artist, and installed in 1889.

In the upper-most part the window, within the stone tracery, are the symbols of the Four Evangelists.  They are Matthew, a man; Mark, a lion; Luke, an ox; John, an eagle. 

In addition, this window has angels representing each of the three hierarchies. This section of the window contains the highest order of angels: seraphim in red, and cherubim in blue.  They are depicted with heads only but may have as many as six wings: two covering their faces, two covering their bodies, and two with which they fly.  Seraphim are the caretakers of God's throne while the cherubim are considered the elect beings for the purpose of protection.  [Isaiah 6:1-2, and and Hall's Dictionary of Subjects and Symbols in Art, p 17.]

Angels in the next section are the second order of angels.  They have human bodies and wings covering their torso. They represent dominions, powers and virtues and govern the stars and the elements.

Below these angels and flanking Christ ascending, is the third group of angels. They are the princedoms that protect the kingdoms of the earth and the archangels and angels who are the divine messengers.

On the lowest section of this window are Christ's followers who were present at the Ascension.  In the center of this row, directly beneath Christ, is the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Hall's Dictionary of Subjects and Symbols in Art, p 17.

Click on illustrations for larger size -- and additional information

stained glass window

Four quatrefoils with symbols representing the Evangelists

Evangelist Matthew

Evangelist Mark

Evangelist John

Evangelist Luke

Angels witnessing the Ascension

Apostles witnessing the Ascension

Angels witnessing the Ascension

Apostles witnessing the Ascension


Angels witnessing the Ascension

Angels witnessing the Ascension


Apostles witnessing the Ascension


Special thanks to The Very Rev. N. DeLiza Spangler, Dean of St. Paul's Cathedral, for her cooperation in May 2009
and to Church Historian Martha Neri for her assistance in November 2009

Photos and their arrangement 2009 Chuck LaChiusa
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