Sunday, August 28, 2011

LDS Temple Glass - Sun Moon and Star Circles

Stained glass or art glass windows are diversely used in Mormon temples.   I've already written about how glass has been used to depict people, usually in scriptural scenes.  Now I'd like to focus on suns, moons, and stars in stained and other art glass.

Historical accounts of the original Nauvoo Illinois Temple mention skylights in the attic area where the endowment and sealings were performed.  In the rebuilt temple similar skylights have been added.  One of these lets light into the Celestial Room and can be seen in the picture below.  This skylight has a large sun surrounded by 24 moons in various phases (forming an eternal ring of the moon going through its phases).  These are then surrounded by eight six-pointed stars.  The rugs in the room have a similar pattern on them but with some added symbols such as five pointed stars, if I remember correctly.
Nauvoo Illinois Temple Art Glass Skylight
Of course I should also mention the famous Nauvoo Illinois Temple five pointed star windows.  These can be seen hereOriginal drawings also show what might have been twelve pointed star windows, but it is unknown if they were included in the original temple.

The Manhattan New York Temple includes similar art glass windows (they are by Tom Holdman, the same artist who did the Nauvoo Illinois Temple skylight windows).  In this version, Holdman has added four fig leaves at the four compass points.  The sun has 16 rays and there are 16 moons going through their phases in an infinite loop with the top of the glass containing the full moons.
Manhattan New York Temple Art Glass
The stars are no longer around the sun, but there are stars in windows nearby.  You can see the whole celestial room window layout here.

Other temples have arranged the sun, moons, and stars differently.  Take, for instance, the Winter Quarters Nebraska Temple (also by Holdman).  The glass in this temple looks like this:
Winter Quarters Nebraska Temple Art Glass
So here we have the stars in the dark portion of the moons.  Some of the stars are supposed to be laid out in the big dipper constellation.  The three moons are in different phases and form the center of compass roses which also double as suns.

The Columbia River Washington Temple has a large art glass window in the Celestial Room that has many moons (12 in the bottom section, 24 in the middle section, 1 in the top section) and a star/sun at the top of the window.   The moons start in the upper left corner with a new moon waxing as you go down.  On the right side there is another new moon and the moon waxes as you go up.  In the center the moons are all full moons.
Columbia River Washington Temple Art Glass

The St. Louis Missouri Temple has another round window with six moons in different phases inside a giant Star of David.  This can be seen here.

The Redlands California Temple features a sun design in its windows.  Circles in squares and circles in the Seal of Melchizedek (a special type of eight pointed star similar to the Star of David) form a border around the window.
Redlands California Temple Art Glass
The Lubbock Texas Temple has similar windows but with added rays of light extending from the sun.  A photo can be seen here.

The San Antonio Texas Temple has stunning stained glass windows (also by Holdman).  The spire is particularly noteworthy.  It has a long, thin window on each side filled with stained glass stars.  The very top of the windows has a large bright star with 16 points.  It is probably meant to be the sun.  It could also represent a compass.  I don't know for sure what the artist intended.  You can see this window here.

The Las Vegas Nevada Temple has 12 six-pointed cut glass stars and one giant cut glass sun mandala in its Celestial Room.  Photos of these can be seen here. I explained possible symbolism of this in this post.

Of course, the Oquirrh Mountain Utah Temple also uses stars in its windows.  As you get higher in the temple there are more stars in the glass.  In the Celestial Room, the windows are divided into three levels with increasing densities of stars as you go up.  This is meant to represent the three degrees of glory in the Celestial Kingdom (and also the three heavens).
Oquirrh Mountain Utah Temple Art Glass
The Bountiful Utah Temple uses Native American designs throughout the temple.  Sun designs are prominently featured, especially in the Celestial Room window.  The window can be seen here.

I should also mention the San Diego California Temple.  Its windows are filled with eight-pointed stars that are the Seal of Melchizedek.  You can see pictures here and here.

That is my list of temple art glass windows with suns, moons, and stars.  Please comment and mention any that I've missed, or just talk about what you think about these windows.


Becky Pett said...

Do you have Tom Holdman's story about about how he was inspired to construct the skylight window in the Nauvoo Temple? I believe he also made the stain glass picture in the baptistry as well. The story refers to both pieces. A temple worker in the Nauvoo Temple referred to the spiritual experience Tom had and said it was published somewhere, but I am having trouble locating it. I would love to read it.

Scott said...

I don't. You could check the Ensign and New Era as I believe both have posted articles about him. Otherwise you could go to his website: