The Good Shepherd

The Good Shepherd and Doctors ~ Clayton & Bell of London, 1917

Doctors flank Christ as the Good Shepherd in this stained glass window. The left of the three lights shows Luke, the writer of the third gospel and also The Acts of the Apostles, who was called by Paul “the beloved physician” (Colossians 4:14). He was a Greek who traveled a great deal with Paul, recording these journeys in the book of Acts, and was one of the first members of the Christian church at Antioch. He does not do any doctoring in the New Testament, but his gospel is full of stories of Jesus’s compassion and mercy, clearly things that are important to Luke. There is no consensus on his death. Some say he lived to be an old man, dying at the age of 84, and some say he was martyred with St. Andrew. His relics are in Constantinople. (See also the St. Luke/St. Mark window in the south clerestory)

In the center light of this window is the image of Christ as the Good Shepherd, which was one of the most popular subjects for stained glass windows in the 19th and 20th centuries. The parable it comes from is about everlasting life, but the overall theme of a shepherd caring for his flock, even unto death, fits well with the picture of doctors who care for their patients.

The parable of the Good Shepherd is in the gospel of John 10:1-16: ‘In very truth I tell you, the man who does not enter the sheepfold by the door, but climbs in some other way, is nothing but a thief and a robber. He who enters by the door is the shepherd in charge of the sheep. The door-keeper admits him, and the sheep hear his voice; he calls his own sheep by name, and leads them out. When he has brought them all out, he goes ahead of them and the sheep follow, because they know his voice. They will not follow a stranger; they will run away from him, because they do not recognize the voice of strangers.’ This was a parable that Jesus told them, but they did not understand what he meant by it. So Jesus spoke again: ‘In very truth I tell you, I am the door of the sheepfold. The sheep paid no heed to any who came before me, for they were all thieves and robbers. I am the door; anyone who comes into the fold through me will be safe. He will go in and out and find pasture. ‘A thief comes only to steal, kill, and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and may have it in all its fullness. I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired man, when he sees the wolf coming, abandons the sheep and runs away, because he is not the shepherd and the sheep are not his. Then the wolf harries the flock and scatters the sheep. The man runs away because he is a hired man and cares nothing for the sheep. ‘I am the good shepherd; I know my own and my own know me, as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. But there are other sheep of mine, not belonging to this fold; I must lead them as well, and they too will listen to my voice. There will then be one flock, one shepherd.”

A former Rector of St. John’s, The Rev. Dr. Leander S. Harding, worked as a shepherd in Maine, and he feels personally close to this parable and its imagery. 

St. Pantaleon is depicted in the right-hand lancet of this window. He was the son of a pagan father and Christian mother in the second century in Asia Minor. His name, Pantaleimon in Greek, means “all-compassionate.” His mother, Eubula, brought him up as a Christian, but he lapsed into paganism again, until, as an adult and a successful physician he was brought back to Christianity. His legend says that he ministered to the poor and sick without asking to be paid. One of his patients was the emperor Galerius. When the persecution of the Christians was started in Nicomedia by Diocletian in 303 C.E., Pantaleon was exposed as a Christian and denounced by his colleagues. He was imprisoned and subjected to torture; he was eventually beheaded. His cult sprang up immediately and spread to the west as well. He was credited with miraculous cures and the working of medical wonders. He is one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers, saints whose intercession with God in times of great danger and illness was most efficient. (See also St. Catherine and St. Margaret in the chapel section.) He is pictured here with the sword by which he was killed and a tray of medicine.

This window was donated in memory of William Henry Jones (1857-1915), who must have been a doctor. It was designed by Reginald Otto Bell for Clayton and Bell of London, and it is “signed” with a little golden bell, bearing the inscription “London 1917”, in the inscription section of the central panel.

Thank you to Mrs. Ruth Cooke, secretary of the British Society of Master Glass Painters in Great Britain, whose husband Jonathan is a professional conservator of stained glass and is an expert on Reginald Otto Bell, for helping to identify the maker of this window.

Click the image for the full sized version

Location: South side of the nave, lower level, closest to the narthex.
Inscription: To the Glory of God and In Loving Memory of William Henry Jones A.D. 1857-1915.