The Virgin Mary

The Blessed Virgin Mary ~ Clayton & Bell, London (before 1898)

The Virgin Mary, the mother of Jesus, is one of the most important figures in Christianity; she was the daughter of Anne and Joachim of Nazareth (see the St. Anne window). Both of her parents were visited on separate occasions by an angel who told of her coming birth; he instructed them to take Mary to the temple in Jerusalem to be raised in strict chastity and devout study, in preparation for her role as the mother of the messiah. When it came time for a husband to be chosen for Mary, the voice of the Lord directed all suitors to come to the temple and place their staffs on the altar. The Lord would choose the man by making a flower grow from the staff of the right man, and the Lord in the form of a dove would alight on the staff. Joseph was an older man who did not at first participate in the competition for Mary’s hand, but the Lord found Joseph in the crowd and directed him to present his staff, and the holy dove alighted on it.

Shortly after her betrothal to Joseph, of the house of David in Galilee, the angel Gabriel appeared to her and told her she would bear a son conceived by the Holy Spirit, and she spoke her famous words, “Behold the handmaiden of the Lord, for I am not worthy of the name of Lady; let it be to me according to thy word.” This event, known as the Annunciation, is the subject of the predella (bottom part of the window) scene. (See also the Kempe three-lancet window on the Annunciation.)

Mary figures in many stories told in the gospels and the book of Acts, notably at the wedding at Cana where Jesus changed water to wine. John says she was present at the crucifixion of Christ. Historical record of Mary’s life after the crucifixion is scant; the early church tradition is that she lived out her life in Jerusalem and was buried there. Others claim she died and was buried in Ephesus. John was present at her deathbed, and she handed him a flower.

Although Mary has always been honored and venerated as the mother of the Christ, her worship in the West truly flowered in the middle ages. There are many feast days associated with Mary, but the Roman church recognizes January 1st as the main Marian feast day. May 31 is devoted to the Visitation of Mary to Elizabeth; the Annunciation by the angel Gabriel is celebrated on March 25. Pope Pius XII dedicated her as the saint of the entire human race in 1944.

In this window, The Blessed Virgin is holding a lily which is her symbol, representing her virginity. She is wearing blue which symbolizes heaven and her role as The Queen of Heaven.

The window was one of a pair donated to St. John’s before 1898 (the other being Saint Anne), mentioned in a Stamford Advocate newspaper article about the consecration of the church on 1 November 1898. One of the windows was donated in the memory of Mrs. Isaac Quintard by her children, and the other donor’s name was not made public. The article did not say which window was the Quintard memorial.

This window was made by Clayton & Bell of London and is located on the east wall, at the clerestory level, above the entrance to the chapel. See also the Blessed Virgin window in the chapel by James Powell & Sons.

Click the image for the full sized version

Location: Above the entrance to the chapel, upper level of the south transcept, right side
Inscription: None