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Window 12: Reconciliation in the church of Saints Leonard and Fergus, Dundee, Scotland. Designed and made by AJ Naylor.

Window 12: Reconciliation.

Window 12: Reconciliation

The twelfth window in the Creation and the New Creation series of windows at the church of Saints Leonard and Fergus, Dundee.

In Window 12: Reconciliation, all three main themes running through these windows meet and overlap. Two of them meet in the biblical story of the woman who washes Jesus’s feet, as told in Luke 7.36-50, and two of them in the symbolism of the moon in the transom. It is also the fourth window in the Spring series to feature women.

The biblical story portrayed here belongs to the Events in Jesus’s Ministry theme as this is one of the events that took place during Jesus’s life that Dad chose to include in these windows. In it, Jesus is invited for a meal at a Pharisee’s house and while they are eating at the table, a woman ‘who was a sinner’ heard that Jesus was in town, bought an alabaster jar of ointment and took it to the Pharisee’s house. There, she wept and bathed Jesus’s feet with her tears and dried them with her hair. She continued to kiss his feet and anointed them with the fragrant and costly ointment she’d bought. The Pharisee who had invited Jesus into his home was not impressed and complained that if Jesus truly was a prophet, he would know this woman was a sinner (many commentators have claimed she was a prostitute, but there is no evidence she was; the nature of her sin is unclear). Jesus explains, by way of a parable about creditors and debtors, that the woman, by lavishing on him precious ointment and by washing his feet with her tears, was showing more love than the Pharisee had. The Pharisee hadn’t even given Jesus any water to wash his feet. Jesus told him that because

The woman who was a sinner, washing and anointing Jesus's feet (Luke 7.36-50). Detail in Window 12: Reconciliation in the church of Saints Leonard and Fergus, Dundee, Scotland. Designed and made by AJ Naylor.

The woman who was a sinner, washing and anointing Jesus's feet (Luke 7.36-50).

she had sinned greatly and had been forgiven, she was able to love greatly. By contrast, someone who has only sinned a little and has been forgiven, does not love as much. Jesus concludes, ‘Therefore, I tell you, her sins, which were many, have been forgiven; hence she has shown great love. But the one to whom little is forgiven, loves little.’ He ends by saying to the woman, ‘Your faith has saved you; go in peace.’

 

Dad, using his own design, portrayed a moment in this scene where the woman, bowed in humility, is drying Jesus’s feet with her flowing hair, a jug of water and alabaster jar beside her. The Pharisee is looking on with annoyance at her audacity – look at the expression on his face and the way his hand is gripping the edge of the table! Jesus’s left hand is outstretched as if to say to the Pharisee, ‘Hang on a minute, let me explain …’

 

On the table are some oranges, or ‘unmade marmalade’ as Dad called them when I asked him about them. Their presence is a reference to the Keiller marmalade made in Dundee and mentioned in Window 7: The Scottish Window – the ‘jam’ of the three Dundee industries of jute, jam and journalism – which just goes to show how immersed in these windows Dad was when he was creating them!

The transom containing an acid-etched moon, a symbol of reconciliation. Detail in Window 12: Reconciliation in the church of Saints Leonard and Fergus, Dundee, Scotland. Designed and made by AJ Naylor.

The transom containing an acid-etched moon, a symbol of reconciliation.

This biblical story is a story of forgiveness. The sinful woman with her many sins was forgiven by Jesus which connects this event to the sacrament of Reconciliation, also known as Confession or Penance, one of the sacraments to feature in The Seven Sacraments theme that runs through these windows.

 

The purpose of the sacrament of Reconciliation is to absolve a person from sins committed after Baptism and to reconcile them to the Christian community. It is called a sacrament because it is not simply a function or a ceremony but an outward sign of an invisible grace, as are all sacraments. A person (penitent) confesses their sins to a priest who absolves them, just as Jesus absolves the sins of the woman in the story above.

The concept of being absolved of sin connects to the idea of bringing light to the darkness within, as in the prayer, ‘lighten our darkness, Lord, we pray.’ To symbolise this, Dad chose to include the moon in the transom of this window, as the moon acts as a light in the darkness of night.

 

As mentioned in the previous window, Window 11: The Sun & the Planets, it is clear, looking at them together, that they are connected – in the transom of Window 11 are the sun and the planets and in this window is a beautiful silvery moon. The backgrounds of both transoms are deep blue to represent the night sky and the heavens. Together they represent the fourth day of Creation, when ‘God said, “Let there be lights in the firmament of heaven to separate the day from the night …”. God made the two great lights – the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night – and the stars’ (Gen. 1.14-16) and as such are featured in The Days of Creation theme running through these windows.

The moon, ‘the lesser light to rule the night,’ has a beautiful, luminous and somewhat etherial quality which is created mainly by acid-etching clear glass. This technique is good for showing its cratered surface – you can even see the man in the moon!

At the bottom of this window we see more flowers but their numbers have noticeably decreased as the season of Spring starts to transition into Summer. Among the flowers and connecting to the previous window is another thistle, one of the emblems of Scotland, and a symbol of Christ's passion, this time painted more realistically instead of abstract. There are also snakes-head fritillary, borage and yarrow. Grasses make an appearance for the first time and among the creatures included are a shrew, a snail, a ladybird, a dragonfly and a couple of honeybees.

About two-thirds of the way up the main window, and not visible in the image of the entire window above, is a simple line-drawn bird, a ‘nothing bird’ as Dad calls it because it’s not symbolic of anything in particular. And why not.

 

The colours in the Celtic-style latticework background pattern in the Spring series of windows are visibly changing now, moving from the fresh, bright greens of Spring to the warm yellows of Summer.

More flowers, their numbers visibly decreasing as Spring starts to transition into Summer. Detail in Window 12: Reconciliation in the church of Saints Leonard and Fergus, Dundee, Scotland. Designed and made by AJ Naylor.

More flowers, their numbers visibly decreasing as Spring starts to transition into Summer.

W12 Reconciliation detail 3 #4 LOW RES.jpg
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