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The History of CPC’s Stained Glass Window

glass01The architectural space for this window was designed into the original building in 1871 with the hope that eventually a stained glass window could be installed. This space remained empty of stained glass for almost 100 years.

In 1964, an active and well-loved member of this congregation passed away. Grace Vernice Prentice Millen, a member of CPC for 17 years, served as the Treasurer of Clifton Presbyterian Church, and was active in the church’s Women’s Association and the Presbytery. She had often dreamed of a stained glass window to fill this void. She died before the fulfillment of her dream and on Sunday, June 27, 1965, her husband, Calvin Millen, her friends and relatives dedicated a new window as the Grace Prentice Millen Memorial Rose Window.

The inspiration for the window was taken from a mosaic that today can be seen in an apse of the Basilica of San Apollinare in Classe in Ravenna, Italy. (See the photo above for the full view of the basilica apse. The photo at the left shows a close up of the cross in the center above the figure of Saint Apollinare.) Ravenna was the seat of the Roman Empire in the 5th century and then of the glass02Byzantine Empire in Italy until the 8th century. The basilica was built in 549 AD under the rule of Emperor Justinian I (483 AD - 565 AD) who left a very large footprint in Ravenna. A member of our church, who had visited the basilica, took a photograph of the mosaic and then the design was adapted in a watercolor by another member of the congregation, Colonel. S. J. Conn. You can see that the jeweled cross in the basilica closely resembles our cross. Both have a starry blue background and a small head of Christ in the center of the cross.

glass03Colonel Conn also designed the wood panels for the Courage in the Scripture series carved by General Webb.

The glasswork itself was crafted by the Willett Stained Glass Studio in Philadelphia. The medallion window is crafted of “faceted glass” that is about 1 inch thick and was deliberately and roughly hand cut with special hammers that create sparkling highlights as the light goes through the glass. Before 2006, the window could only be seen from the exterior of the church and was artificially lit from the inside. When the sanctuary was renovated in 2006, the window was opened to the interior of the sanctuary thanks to memorial donations given in loving memory of Jack Scott, a long time member of CPC, by his wife, Nancy, his children and his friends.