The Transfiguration Window

Back in August 2000, just after the dedication of the church, artist Helen McLean of Wexford, Ireland wrote about her experience creating the oculus for the Church of the Transfiguration.

This window presented me with a difficult challenge. How to create the window of the Transfiguration? The more I meditated on the theme, the more the spiritual, mystical nature of the Transfiguration dominated my thought. The moment Christ was transfigured and his garments became strong, white light, a heavenly radiance was at the center of my inspiration: “He was transfigured before them, and his garments became glistening, intensely white, as no fuller on earth could bleach them” (Mark 9:2-3). No human form or figurative piece could I feel express this experience — this incredible, intangible moment.

The window was to be an expression of energy and power with light emitting from the center — the light expressed by a hand-blown piece of glass with flecks of red. The rest of the composition was conceived as this divine energy transmitting lines and waves, flowing around the middle, meandering and moving, evoking color and energy. Fiery reds, vivid orange, gold and yellows explode forth, enlivening the circle, the entire cosmos. The cosmos is ablaze with the glory of Christ!

The four flames flicker, symbols of spiritual purification, enlightenment, and love. Thus this can be seen as a ‘fire window’ — the force of rejuvenation and renewal. The flame-form, outlined in gold, is a further expression of pure light.

Within the circle, elemental forms are portrayed, conveying the movement and energy of the divine light. The three interlocking forms and nine circles were intended on one level as abstract elements. On another level, they could be interpreted as Saints Peter, James, and John, and the nine circles as the nine choirs of angels.

The same light and energetic power provides the relationship between the window, seen on the outside, and the portal below. The circular cosmos and the power of God in every day of creation is clearly expressed, as is the light of God’s first word, “Let there be light!”

Inside, the window relates to the baptismal font. Both are created in a glass material. One absorbs and reflects light, whilst the other lets light pass through it. The gold on the font floor absorbs the natural light to reflect a white, sacred light. Both pieces have a central circular form, from which lines radiate around the center. This can be understood as the power and light of the Holy Spirit emanating out, flowing from light to dark, embracing all the baptized.

“All ye who would the Christ descry, lift up your eyes to Him on high:
There mortal gaze hath strength to see the token of His majesty.
A wondrous sign we there behold, that knows no death nor groweth old…”
—Prudentius, 4th century

Helen McLean
Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord, 2000

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