Last year, in the course of removing shutters while repainting the Abbey, a stained glass window was uncovered over the church door and porch. At that time, it was still walled over in the interior of the church. A week ago, the wall was cut away to reveal the window.
What do we know about the window?
It was donated by someone, removed from an old church and was part of the original construction in 1951. It was covered over soon after that, possibly on the orders of the Father Immediate, the Abbot of Spencer. Figurative stained glass was forbidden by the primitive Constitutions of the Cistercian Order; in fact, the only imagery permitted was the Crucifix and an image of Mary and St. John, flanking the cross. There was an interest in early Cistercian customs at the time of our foundation and in the late 1940’s the abbey church of Our Lady of the Valley, Valley Falls, Rhode Island, was renovated according to norms of the Liturgical Movement. (In the 1960’s, the Abbey of Gethsemani would remove it’s figurative 19th century stained glass windows in favor of a more reserved, abstract glass)
What don’t we know about the window?
There is no record of where the window came from or who donated it or who might have taken initiative to secure it. There is a rumor that it was made by the Tiffany Studios; since it is a fragment of a window, probably about one fourth the original height, we are missing the portion that would carry the window’s hallmark and might have also recorded the donor of the window.
...to be continued