The Rose Window
The magnificent Rose Window which was installed in our church by Homer Rusk, Sr., is one of the finest in the South. The twelve apostles are represented in the window.
Beginning with the petals, at the top slightly to right, going clockwise, we find the Shield of St. Mathias, who was chosen by lot to succeed Judas Iscariot, which shows an open Bible and a double- bladed battle axe. It is said that he was beheaded because of preaching the Gospel, hence the meaning of the symbolism on the shield.
St. Simon Zelotes follows, showing a fish lying on a book, the fish signifying the Gospel. Frequently he was the companion of Jude in the missionary journeying.
Number three illustrates the Shield of St. James, the Less, showing a saw placed vertically with the handle above. According to tradition, in his ninety-sixth year he was thrown from the topmost portion of the Temple, and his mangled, dead body was sawn asunder.
As we near the bottom of the window we find an inverted cross, representing Peter and signifying that, by his request, he was crucified head downward, not considering himself worthy to be crucified in the same position as his Lord. The crossed keys on this shield refer to Peter’s confession and power to forgive sin vouchsafed to the Church. See Matthew 16:13-19.
Next is St. Thomas. In this shield it shows a vertical shear and a carpenter’s square. Tradition says that St. Thomas went to East India as a missionary and erected a church with his own hands. He was shot with arrows and was finally put to death by a spear in the hands of a pagan priest.
Next we find St. Bartholomew (believed by some to be the same as Nathanael). This contains a single flaying knife. Sometimes three knives are shown on the shield. Hippolytus is authority for the statement that St. Bartholomew was seized by the Governor of Albanople, Armenia, and was flayed, crucified and beheaded.
We come now to St. Jude (known also as Thaddaeus or Lebbaeus) with a small sailing ship, symbolizing his missionary journeys. It is claimed that he went to Syria and Arabia and on into Mesopotamia, preaching the gospel.
The last of the petals symbolizes St. John. This shows a chalice and a serpent representing the story of an attempt to kill him by poisoning. Tradition says that the priest of Diana gave him poisoned wine to drink, but he made the sign of the cross over the chalice and the poison escaped in the form of a serpent. Numerous attempts were made on his life; but he is said to have been the only Apostle who was not put to death, with the possible exception of St. Jude, the manner of whose death is unknown. As an evangelist, St. John is represented under the form of an eagle.
Now on the outer edge of the window at the top in the center, we find the shield of St. Phillip, containing a slender cross and two loaves of bread. See John 6:7.
On the extreme right, is St. Matthew. It usually contains three purses which refer to his early occupation as a tax-gathered. As an evangelist he is always portrayed as a winged man.
On the outer rim in the center at the bottom we find the emblem of St. Andrew, commonly represented as an X-like cross, the four ends of which touch the edges. According to legend, St. Andrew died in Greece on a cross of this form.
Still on the outer rim of the window, at the extreme left, St. James the Greater is represented, his shield showing three scalloped shells, symbolic of pilgrimage and missionary journeys. Sometimes a sword and scallop shell are used the sword signifying that he was beheaded by command of Herod
Now on the outer rim between the four shields just described we find in ruby glass half sections of stylized rosettes. The custom is that these rosettes should be repeated at least four times. The stylized rosettes, the crescent and fleur-de-Lys used represent this Mother of Jesus, our Lord. The letter “S” repeated often is the symbol of God as used by ancient Jewish people. The modern Roman Catholic used the reverse ”S”.
In the center of the window is shown the head of Christ, hand-painted in beautiful coloring, taken from Sallsman’s “Head of Christ”.
The pointed or Eastern Arch on the frame of the window signifies aspiration and striving for growth in the spiritual life. It is a characteristic feature of Gothic Church Architecture.
This window is fourteen feet in diameter, made of cathedral glass, hand painted, stained and glazed, and fired seven times. The window is fashioned from Michael Angelo’s original rose in Milan.
The characters represented in this window are becoming increasingly in favor among the churches today. They are peculiarly appropriate because evangelical doctrines have their roots almost entirely in the Teachings of the New Testament.