Stained glass windows, paintings, and icons were not originally placed in church buildings as decorations. When various items of art were placed in the interior of the buildings, they were received by the members as a means of Christian education.
The use of stained glass has a long tradition in the Church. Besides their lesser decorative and lighting purposes, stained glass windows were used as teaching or catechetical devices through the depiction of scenes from the Bible or key religious symbols. Therefore, stained glass windows were experienced as the Bible in picture form and could then be used by preachers to help a poorly educated, or even illiterate, congregation to understand Scripture and its teachings. Many people came to know the stories of the Bible, and specifically those of our Lord's life, ministry, death, Resurrection, and Ascension, by meditating on the depictions portrayed in the windows. The windows were then used as a source of reflection and prayer afterwards, much as someone today might read a Scripture passage as a source of prayer.
For us today, stained glass windows should also be more than beautiful decorations. We, too, can use the windows to remind ourselves of the stories from Holy Scripture. By meditating on various aspects of the scene, we can discover a new or renewed encounter regarding not only the story but also our Faith.
The stained glass windows within Saint Anne Episcopal Church are nineteenth century German. They were made in Munich at the end of that century (late 1800's) and shipped to a church in New England. When that building was being dismantled, our parish purchased the stained glass windows. As one walks through the church, examining the stained glass windows, you will notice that many of the windows have been given as a memorial gifts.
Below you will find a brief description of each window. The journey will generally travel chronologically through the events of the life of Jesus Christ, beginning with the presentation of Mary at the Temple and concluding with the Feast of Pentecost. After these, the windows depicting several saints of the Church (the Virgin Mary, authors of the Gospels, and Agnes) are described.