The Rose and Lily Windows

The language of flowers seems very timely after Easter each year as our world springs into bloom. The Woodruff Memorial window is found in the vestibule of the west transept exit to the cloister that leads to the circle. It is believed to be designed by an American in the late 19th century and was installed in the second Christ Church. It and the window Christ, Apostles, and Children located in the narthex were moved to their current locations in 1910 when the new church building was constructed. They serve as a wonderful stained glass heritage from our previous place of worship.

Ann Eliza Woodruff lived 60 years and died in 1887. She must have loved flowers for such a beautiful window to have been given in “loving memory” of her. I imagine she was a gardener and perhaps a member of the Altar Guild of that time. The garden reminds us of the Garden of Eden and the saying “I meet God in my garden”.

Roses and lilies are prominent in the design of the Floral Window. Here, the artist depicts the roses in shades of red in contrast to the white lilies.  The lily is a familiar symbol of the Resurrection and the pure white lily is the traditional flower for that season. Red roses are a symbol of steadfast faith and conviction and the Blood of Christ shed in the Crucifixion. The other flowers are in soft shades of blues, greens, and golds.

The lilies appear in three forms that can be seen as the historic phases of the life of Christ and its hope of immortality. In contemporary time the three forms, still in bud and closed, some in the process of opening, and some full-blown, could be said to show us the phases of recovery from the coronavirus as our town, state and country reopen. The unopened buds represent hope for the future, those in the process of opening show us progress toward gathering again as a congregation and with our families, and fully open flowers tell of the celebration of life returning to a new version of “normal”.

At the top of each lancet, there is a symbol. On the left the descending dove holding an olive branch is for the Holy Spirit and peace. The Holy Bible on the right tells us “the Word was made flesh” from John 1:14. This window was designed in the late 1800’s and reflects some details from that time that give it the look of an “older window”. The use of the blue “bull’s eye” like rounds on each side of the dove and the Bible are one such detail. Other details are the quality of the stained glass and painted glass that was used and the types of colors that were chosen. Shades of golds are very prevalent in the compositions and the glass surrounding the main lancets.

In the doors leading to and from this vestibule, there are diamonds of clear glass with flowers on them that are done in enamel. All four reflect the Bible. The inner doors bear three lilies as in the Trinity and a rose and the doors to the outside a passion flower for the Passion of Christ and lily of the valley, which symbolizes humility. There is no history on the age or source of these very delicate and beautifully executed pieces of glass.

Karen Royce