A Catholic Monthly Magazine

Mary’s Life in Stained Glass (6)

Glen McCullough


The only mention of Mary in scripture after the crucifixion is in Acts 1:14, which states that Mary, the mother of Jesus, met and prayed with the apostles. So she would have been in the upper room with the disciples at Pentecost.


Of the windows I have seen of Pentecost, about half feature Mary. The simplest I have seen was in the village church at Chavagnac, France (marked [1]) featuring a very ornately dressed Mary with the remaining eleven apostles. The use of strong colours was typical of windows I saw in those parts of northeastern France that I was able to visit.

Unfortunately, I was not always able to photograph the windows sufficiently well, and the window in St George’s, St Emilion, France [2] is slightly out of focus. But I have included it because of the beautiful colour, and the artist’s idea of what the upper room would have looked like.










The window in Our Lady of the Sacred Heart, Randwick, Sydney [3] shows the scene as I have imagined it - some of the big crowd, with Mary and some of the other women. The tongues of fire are quite small in the haloes of everyone. I am pleased to see that Mary has pride of place in the centre of the window.

The window [4] in St John’s, Trentham, Wellington was designed by my friend Beverley Shore Bennett and made in Miller Studios, Dunedin. Mary again is in front, and the tongues of fire are shown as dramatically as I suspect they really were.



“It is a dogma revealed by God that the Immaculate Mother of God, Mary ever Virgin, when the course of her earthly life was finished, was taken up body and soul into the glory of heaven.” - Pope Pius XII , August, 15 1950.

The Pope was confirming the Assumption, which had been part of the tradition of the Church since the 4th century. That is attested to by the number of stained glass windows featuring Mary being taken up into heaven.

Two churches I have seen feature a progression from dormition to coronation - St Mary’s, Banff (see back cover, August 2016 MM) and these insets [5] in a very tall window in Holy Name of Mary, Hunters Hill, Sydney.

Most windows simply show Mary in Heaven. One example [6] of dozens I have seen is in St Stephen's Cathedral, Brisbane.



Crowned Queen of Heaven

The Church has long held that Mary is Queen of Heaven because her Son, Jesus Christ, is King. Perhaps that is why I have seen so many windows (45 at last count) that feature Mary as Queen or in heaven. Here is a representative sample.

The first is in my old favourite, Our Lady of the Sacred Heart, Randwick, Sydney [7] with Mary surrounded by angels. A very plain way of showing she is in heaven.

The window in St Mary’s, Manly, Sydney [8] shows Mary as she appeared in Revelation 12:1-3, standing on the moon with a crown of 12 stars on her head.  My favourite, though, is in the Church of the Holy Spirit, North Ryde, Sydney [9]. To my eye, Mary and Jesus are beautiful.




St Vitas Cathedral, Prague has a huge window [10] of Mary in Heaven which I find a little bizarre, but nevertheless is a colourful way to end this series.


Hail Mary, Queen of Heaven!

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