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Stained Glass Windows (Altar) - English

Stained Glass Window Descriptions - Altar 
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When we as a design studio approach any commission the first step is to identify what is unique or special about this parish. In this situation there are two outstanding identifying characteristics of St. Agnes Church. 

The first is the unusual architecture of the church; the main altar windows are partially concealed until one approaches the altar. 

The second rather wonderful feature is St Agnes Kouying Tsao herself and the idea that this parish that is named in honor of St. Agnes is represented by a majority of Chinese Canadian members. 

In our presentation we have used both ideas with the main emphasis on the architecture and a very subtle reference to the second. 

In the lower sections of the altar window, the designer has drawn from two traditional images and stories from the bible. The first show Christ blessing and teaching small children "Suffer the little children to come unto me" . This is an important responsibility for all parents and the spiritual life and teaching of their children. 

With this image are the Dove; an ancient and Christian symbol of purity and peace as well as the most important aspect, which is the Holy Spirit. 

On the other side in the bottom section, we have shown "Mary, holding baby Jesus", offering Jesus' unconditional love to mankind. We are receiving this Love with joyful heart, like the two smiling angles. 

The unique architecture of the Church comes into play here, as you approach the altar more of the windows are revealed and you begin to see “The Angelic Ladder” This is appropriate in many ways. 

When Luke was praying with Jesus in the Garden “there appeared an angel unto him from heaven”. The ladder is one of the instruments of the “Passion”. “Behold a ladder set up on the earth and the top of it reached to Heaven”; And Behold the Angels of God ascending and descending on it” (Gen.28-12). 

The ladder is the gateway to heaven and in this setting the closer you are to the altar and Jesus the more of the ladder to heaven is revealed. The ladder is also indicative of both our spiritual journey as well as the journey to the new land, which almost all Canadians have taken from their homelands to their new home. 

Embracing the ladder and the crossing at the bottom are two branches. Look closer for these are from the Tree of Jesse, which is the Tree of Life,“and there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse and a branch shall grow out from his roots.” This is another reference to the unique nature of all Canadians, establishing new roots and growing branches.One of the two branches bears maple leaves, representing Canada, and the other, bamboo leaves, representing the Canadian Chinese. 

As you look towards the top of the windows the circle is revealed. The circle is globally accepted as the symbol of Eternity and never ending existence; the three of them express the beginning, the middle and the end. In Christian Symbolism three became the divine number suggesting the Trinity and also the three days that Jesus Christ spent in the tomb. Within the circle is the lily; the symbol of purity and also of the Virgin Mary. 

At the top of the windows we see the stars, lighting the darkness of the heavens at night. The start represents Divine Guidance. And finally the clouds in the corners are the natural veil of the blue sky and therefore used as a symbol of the unseen but ever present God.