Saturday, February 12, 2011

Mormon Temple Stained Glass - Scenes with People

The topic of temple stained glass windows is so large that I have avoided writing about it.  This is unfortunate, because LDS temples have a rich history of using stained (and art) glass windows in various styles and ways.  To make the topic manageable, today I'll just talk about scriptural scenes (with one exception).  This post is limited to stained glass scenes of people so it does not include representations of the Tree of Life, which is also common in temple windows, nor does it cover stained glass stars, etc.  Even so, stained glass windows showing people in scriptural or other scenes have been used in many temples and should be an interesting topic.

The Salt Lake Temple
Adam & Eve leave Garden of Eden, Salt Lake Temple
There are 3 scriptural stained or art glass scenes in the Salt Lake Temple.  These were made in New York and are Tiffany glass.  The first scene is Adam and Eve being expelled from the Garden of Eden.  It shows an angel holding a flaming sword guarding the way to the Tree of Life.  This window was originally seen as you left the garden room and headed to the world room and so it was exactly in place with the endowment ceremony.  At some point it was moved and now you notice it just after you exit the celestial room.  I think the original placement was better and should be restored.

Moroni Giving Plates, Sealing Room, SL Temple
The next stain glass windows are in the sealing room to the right (west) of the Holy of Holies.  This is the sealing room on the west end of the celestial room.  The sealing room contains a stained glass window of Joseph Smith receiving the golden plates The Book of Mormon was translated from from the Angel Moroni.
In person, the window is much more impressive.

First Vision Stained Glass, Holy of Holies, Salt Lake Temple

The final scriptural stained glass window in the Salt Lake Temple is in the Holy of Holies.  This stained glass scene is of the First Vision, where God the Father and Jesus Christ appeared to Joseph Smith in answer to his prayer.  This is a very fitting work of art for the room where the prophet can go to seek revelation on how to run the church.  I've never seen this, because you aren't allowed to enter the Holy of Holies, but I have included a picture.  Also, you can see the window from the other side where it goes into either the sealing office or a hall off the sealing office.

Windows by Tom Holdman
Utah stained glass artist Tom Holdman has a lot of experience doing stained glass for the church in numerous temples.  Some of these are geometric, others are nature scenes, and a few are scriptural including the following windows in the Palmyra New York Temple, Winter Quarters Nebraska Temple, Nauvoo Illinois Temple, Sao Paulo Brazil Temple, and Manhattan New York Temple.

The Palmyra New York Temple
Palmyra Temple First Vision Window
The Palmyra New York Temple is filled with stained glass depictions of nature - mainly the sacred grove and tree of life.  The first window commissioned  by the church was one of the First Vision and it is in the lobby.  Tom Holdman convinced the church to let him do all the windows in the temple (by coming up with private donations to pay for them) and he did a wonderful job of filling them with symbolic stained glass trees.

The Winter Quarters Nebraska Temple
Winter Quarters Temple Lobby Art Glass
This temple was built in a suburb of Omaha where the Mormon pioneers camped for a year while heading to Salt Lake. The Church News reported about the window:
Similarly, the Winter Quarters temple site is sanctified by the interment nearby of the remains of Latter-day Saints of the 1840s and 1850s who, in the words of William Clayton's now world-famous hymn, died before their journey was through.

A depiction of Elder Clayton's writing of that hymn while camped with the Pioneers on the plains of Iowa, "Come, Come, Ye Saints," is included among 18 stained-glass art scenes that tell the story of the epic gathering of Zion by way of Winter Quarters. The artist, a member of the Highland 6th Ward, Highland Utah Stake, said he had a recording of the hymn playing continuously as he formed the William Clayton scene. Thus inspired, he was able to portray Elder Clayton with a pleasant countenance, "happy to be a Saint." (Indeed, Brother Clayton was jubilant, having learned that morning of the birth of his son back in Nauvoo.)

But sadness mitigated by hope is depicted as well in the window scenes. A father and mother are shown in winter walking away from the grave where they have buried a loved one, he supporting her in their mutual grief. The shovel he carries points toward the grave site. Near the grave grows a tree, laden with fruit. Yes, it is an unseasonable element in a winter scene, but intended so: It depicts the tree of life, symbolizing the hope of exaltation and eternal life for those who die in the Lord. (See Doctrine and Covenants 42:45-46.)

Other art scenes in the stained-glass panels depict the wooden roadometer the pioneers fashioned to measure their travel; the building of cabins at Winter Quarters; Brigham Young signing papers calling for the Mormon Battalion enlistment; pioneers crossing the Elkhorn River; the chief of the Omaha Indians, who showed kindness to the Pioneers at Winter Quarters; the log tabernacle at Kanesville, on the Iowa side of the river, where Brigham Young was sustained as president of the Church in December 1847; and the handcart pioneers.

One of the art scenes is a portrait of President Young himself. "Personally, I think it's the best thing I have ever done in my life," Brother Holdman said of the portrait, which depicts President Young as a figure of strength and fortitude. "Here, he has all of these people stretched out across the plains. People are dying; people are asking him, 'What should we do to survive?' He had to be going through a lot, don't you think?"
Winter Quarters Temple Sealing Room Art Glass
Although the Church News doesn't mention it, another scene is found in a stained glass window in a sealing room. In the center pane is an image of parents with children, a wonderful symbol in the room where husband and wife are married for eternity and children are sealed to them for eternity.

The Nauvoo Illinois Temple (rebuilt)
Baptism of Jesus in Nauvoo Temple Baptistery
The newly rebuilt Nauvoo Temple contains a wonderful stained glass scene of the baptism of Jesus Christ in the baptistery. The window is just behind the font and was also done by Tom Holdman.  John the baptist is shown in camels hair clothing as stated in the Bible and the Holy Ghost is seen in the form of a dove.

The Sao Paulo Brazil Temple (remodeled)
Christ Visiting Nephites, Sao Paulo Temple
When the Sao Paulo Temple was remodeled the church added several stained and art glass windows.  In the lobby a scriptural scene was made by Tom Holdman showing Jesus Christ appearing to the Nephites at the temple in the land Bountiful after his resurrection.  It is a reminder to patrons as they enter and leave the temple that Christ has visited the Americas and did and still does care about their people.

The Manhattan New York Temple
Christ and Apostles on Road to Emmaus, Manhattan Temple
On the first floor of the Manhattan Temple is a stained glass scene done in an older style showing Christ with two apostles on the road to Emmaus.  This window was also done by Tom Holdman.

The Snowflake Arizona Temple
Christ and Children, Snowflake Temple
I find it interesting that the Snowflake Arizona Temple has a stained glass window so similar to the one in the Manhattan Temple.  The Snowflake window was originally in a church for a different faith in the eastern U.S. and was purchased at an auction and then installed in the temple.  It shows Christ  surrounded by children, caring for and teaching them.  More information on the window can be found here.

The Redlands California Temple
First Vision, Redlands Temple
Just behind the recommend desk of the Redlands California Temple is a stained glass window of the First Vision.  The window has an interesting history.  Here is an excerpt from the Church News story.
After the first chapel was built in San Bernardino, Calif., in 1933, a large art glass window depicting the First Vision and over a dozen small windows or icons showing various aspects of Church history were installed. . . . 

In 1960, it was deemed necessary to sell the building — windows and all — because it had no off-street parking for the growing wards.
Once the building was sold, San Bernardino Ward Bishop Charles W. Eastwood tried to buy the First Vision window but the pastors of the Protestant faith that had bought the building would not allow its removal. Finally, in 1978, after repeated requests, a new pastor allowed it to be taken if it would be replaced with amber glass.
Some time later, the icons were also obtained and put into storage.
Brother Eastwood and his wife, Laurie, became the custodians of the window and began to search for an artisan to restore the dirty and broken panes of art glass. Sister Eastwood, daughter of famous Latter-day Saint artist Minerva Teichert, had a special interest to see these works of art preserved. . .
The First Vision window was finally installed in the Pacific Chapel in San Bernardino and unveiled on March 7, 1979.
When the Redlands California Temple was announced, Sister Eastwood initiated efforts to obtain the window for permanent display in the temple.
"I felt impressed that this exquisite piece of art should be in the temple," recounted Sister Eastwood. "In the temple thousands will enjoy its beauty and message."
The icons have also now been restored by John Heiss of the Upland California Stake. . .
If anyone reading this has pictures of the other windows in the Redlands Temple that show church history, please let me know and how to get them.  I've found a few here.  I'm very glad that we were able to save and use these stained glass windows and that we have such great stained glass in the Redlands Temple.

Well there you have it.  Those are the stained glass windows depicting scenes with people that I know about in LDS Temples.  If you know of any temples that I missed, please comment and let me know.  Also, if you know of any pictures of these stained glass scenes, please let us know where they are and how to get them.

I hope the church continues to occasionally add stained glass scriptural scenes in temples.  The really do add to the experience of the temple and remind us of important parts of the scriptures.


Brett said...

I do love stained elevates a sacred space so much better than nice furniture or crown mouldings.

I hope that this practise continues with future temples...and perhaps may make it's way back into Stake Centres.

Excellent post... particularly the recycling of another faiths religious art.

Anonymous said...

For the Salt Lake Temple stained glass window showing the expulsion. This was moved to accomodate an elevator. It can not be restored to its original location until elevator technology changes.

Scott said...

I hadn't thought about the elevator, although new elevator designs in the last few years take up significantly less space. It probably isn't worth the cost to install a new smaller elevator just to move a window.

Brian said...

The thought about the elevator bothers me. The interior of the temple was designed with elevators in place, elevators having been first sold the year ground was broken for the temple.

The church has on hand the invoices from the Otis Elevator Co. for the original elevators from before the dedication of the temple. Was this an additional elevator added to the tample later?

Scott said...

I think ananymous was talking about a newer elevator. I believe the original elevators were in the towers and this elevator would be in the center to bypass the grand staircase. I'm not sure if that central elevator is original.

The stained glass window could still be accommodated with the elevator, although this may have been why they originally moved it.

Anonymous said...

The elevator that is used for handicapped patrons of the temple to bypass the Grand Staircase was added later. The space it now occupies was once a Sealing Room. One of the older temple workers told me this several years ago.

James B. Lansing

PS I LOVE this site!

Anonymous said...

re: request for " of the other windows in the Redlands Temple that show church history, please let me know and how to get them"
The Redlands Temple open house had on display "icons" of stained glass symbols or pictures like a wagon being pulled by oxen. The icons are from the original San Bernardino Church that was sold. I thought you may want to include the photos of them here.

Godspeed your endeavors,
Walter y
Coalville UT