Stained Glass Window
STAINED GLASS WINDOW
TO COMMEMORATE THE ONE HUNDRED AND FIFTIETH ANNIVERSARY OF THE FOUNDATION OF
SAINT PATRICK'S PARISH, STRATHAVEN
The artist, Fiona Foley, decided at the outset of the project to seek the collaboration of the pupils of Saint Patrick’s Primary school. In a series of brainstorming sessions with pupils from throughout the school, ideas began to emerge which could be incorporated into the final design. The emphasis would be on the way in which the Parish had evolved, from its beginnings to the present day, that is to say, over the period of one hundred and fifty years. What was the origin of the early community? What work did they do? How did they settle into the environment of Lanarkshire and Strathaven in particular?
It was important that the pastoral dimension of life and work in the area was highlighted and that some of the physical features of the locality be blended into the final design. The obvious landmarks were the War Memorial, the River Avon and the Powmillion Burn. The actual site of Saint Patrick’s Church would also be indicated.
Under the Artist’s direction, the children produced their own line drawings from nature representing the four Seasons. Greenery, dried flowers and fruit heads were sources of inspiration in this exercise.
As the figure representing Saint Patrick was not to be part of design, it was felt that it was important that the essence of the Saint be captured and so elements of his life and mission are depicted.
A symbol of Saint Patrick’s status in the Church, yet also a reminder of his early life, as a shepherd boy, spent on the mountains of Antrim.
Well aware of the symbolism of the three-leaved plant and the representation of the Blessed Trinity, the children thought that is must be included but did not want it to be too obvious. It was incorporated into the crosier, as a decorative element
Tradition links Saint Patrick to the absence of snakes in Ireland. In the representation of the snake, a portion of a mirror was used. The suggestion was that those who looked in it would be reminded of their own human frailties, and the temptation to do wrong rather than right – an echo of the Book of Genesis and the story of Adam and Eve.
The children were taken with the story of the kidnap of Patrick to Ireland and his being forced to tend sheep. The lamb has a black face, like so many in the Strathaven area.
The identity of the pupils who worked with the Artist is recorded by their initials being hidden in the fleece of the lamb.
The Seasons run from the Spring colours surrounding the Lamb, into the heat of Summer, represented by the poppies and the lush green leaves. Above the image of the War Memorial are included some Autumnal shades, which in turn flow into the greys and purples of Winter. The top righthand panel is dominated by the image of the sun – a common
element linking the four Seasons.
Within the Winter/Spring section of the window are included images of ‘flame’ to mark the story of the Paschal fire on the Hill of Slane and Saint Patrick’s encounter with the High King on the Hill of Tara. This can also be linked to the inclusion of the River Avon close by to commemorate Patrick’s trials by ‘fire and water’ set by the High King to test Patrick’s faith.
Many of the pupils included the ‘sun’ in the top section of their images. Then the dove was added. Traditionally in stained glass the circle symbolises ‘the Eternal’ and ‘the sacred’ and the ‘dove’ is the Christian representation of the Holy Spirit.
In addition to the names of all the Parish Priests who have served Saint Patrick’s, Strathaven since 1859, and the initials of the children involved in the project, it was considered appropriate to include a phrase from the Saint Patrick’s Breastplate (an old Irish prayer form protection against all harm): “Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me.”