One of the most impressive art collections in Chattanooga is hanging over the head of worshipers downtown
To celebrate Good Friday, we're taking you inside St Peter's and Paul's for a tour of their unique stained glass windows
The Parochial Administrator of the Basilica is our tour guide
Videographer Harrison Pirtle captures the images for us
The windows that are in the basilica are from 1890. They were designed by Louis Comfort tiffany out of New York. There is 14 panels, 7 of which depict the life of St. Peter and 7 of which depict the life of St. Paul.
There is something about a bright, colorful stained glass window that enlivens the soul.
We have the glass that is tempered. Fired with various minerals in it that create the different colors but they include also on that some stenciled drawing to make the details.
When you look at the glass itself, the windows they tell in individual panels the life of each of these saints through vignettes. They were interacting with our Lord Jesus or with his church or with the world. And so we can see the biblical passage that is referenced at the bottom of the window. So it's a neat little practice to come in and open up the scriptures and see it come alive in light, in color.
I think we use stain glass windows because they are an image to us of the soul. They are an image to us of a soul that without the light of faith, is dark. Featureless. But when the light of faith dawns on that soul, a story starts to be told. And it's a beautiful story, it's a story of goodness. So the stain glass window is an instrument to tell the story of Jesus. To tell the story of the church.
The first windows depict the call. So over here we have the call of St. Peter. There he is on the seashore. He has dropped his nets. Jesus is saying "come and follow me."
Though they are depicting the life of Peter through the biblical stories, ultimately through his martyrdom, we'll see he is martyred upside down.
But then you have the life of St. Paul. The first scene is the call of Saul who becomes Paul. And then it goes through where Paul is teaching, Paul is doing miracles, and then finally, Paul is shipwrecked on Malta and it shows that whole scene. And then finally Paul's Martyrdom.
Again, that's what stained glass is all about. It's art and faith coming together. And telling the good news. And Louis Comfort Tiffany windows from the 1890s of this scale and this magnitude, they are priceless. They are a great treasure of art for us.