The new window by Helen Whittaker for Abergavenny is described, with some justification, as ‘one of the greatest new works of church art in Wales since the Second World War’ on the Church in Wales website.
A crowned figure at York Minster dating to the mid-twelfth century is sometimes described as the earliest surviving painted panel of window glass in Britain, and probably came from a Jesse window. Other important medieval survivals include the later Jesse windows at York and Wells, as well as the most complete medieval window in Wales, at Llanrhaeadr-yng-Nghinmeirch, dating from 1533. But the subject is still returned to. The big east window of the Lady Chapel at Llandaff Cathedral also features the Tree of Jesse, and since it was made by Geoffrey Webb in 1951, it might also claim to be one of the most important commissions for church art in Wales. But in truth, there are plenty of others to choose from, such as Jacob Epstein’s Majestas in Llandaff, and other outstanding windows on the same scale or of the highest quality, but they are just not so well known.
The new window will be dedicated on 7 July by the Bishop of Monmouth.
As the the new window, designed by Helen Whittaker, is installed Canon Mark Soady reflects:
Stained glass windows came in to being in Medieval times as a means of educating the largely illiterate public about the Good News of the Bible through visual images.
Helen’s window does an amazing job in encapsulating the various themes and messages that run through the Bible. It will be a great aid to teaching and a wonderful compliment to the Jesse artefact itself.
The starting point for Helen’s design is the ‘centrality of Christ as God and man’. The dual aspects of Christ are explored through images and relationships connected with the five principal themes: Christ, Kingship, Prophecy, the Church and the Sacrament.
At the top of the tree sits the Virgin Mary with the Christ child on her knee. They are shown to a larger scale then other figures in the window, recognising…
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