Stained Glass Windows in Orthodox Churches: Do They Exist?

Dmitry Trofimov, head of the Tsargrad Creative Workshops, answers

We associate stained glass windows with Gothic churches. But in Orthodoxy, too, there is a place for stained glass, and a most sacred place. The first temple stained glass windows appeared in Byzantium. Their fragments are kept in the archaeological museum of Constantinople.

In Russia colored glass was put in the drum apertures and altar barriers even before the Horde invasion. However, it was not about icons. Glass is a fragile material.

In the seventeenth century, stained glass began to appear in homes and churches. But they became widespread at the end of the 19th century. When they were building the Kazan Cathedral in St. Petersburg, Karl Bryullov proposed breaking through the wall of the altar, put a stained glass window in the opening and thereby highlight the holy image. The idea was not supported, but such a stained glass window appeared in the St. Isaac's Cathedral - it was personally approved by Emperor Nicholas I. The large-scale altarpiece of the risen Savior is probably the first figurative stained glass window in a Russian Orthodox church. Temples in the early 20th century in the Russian-Byzantine style required stained glass windows, and Russian craftsmen learned how to make them.

Now the tradition is being revived. For stained glass windows they choose the most sacred place, the eastern wall - the altar. Most often, images of Christ on the throne and the Resurrection are placed in the altar windows. It is the luminosity of stained glass that symbolically conveys the idea of paradise. As for fragility, modern stained glass windows are very durable, almost eternal.

Source: (Russian)

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