Cistercian Preparatory School
Stained Glass Window: Leaded mouth-blown crystal, metal oxides, silver stain,14’ x 14’, 2014
The “Christ Hymn” window is located in the Preparatory School operated by the Cistercian Abbey, Our Lady of Dallas. The chapel is used for daily prayer by individuals and small groups; because it serves a school community, the window’s imagery must speak to young children and adults alike. The window looks out into a courtyard and walkway used heavily by students throughout the day. The palette and transparency of the window’s mouth blown glass allow natural light to penetrate the chapel and retain visibility to the exterior environment. At the same time, its varied textures obscure the identities of passersby and offer appropriate privacy for spiritual reflection. The window carves out a sacred space in the middle of the school’s campus and sets the chapel apart.
The Christ Hymn as recounted in Philippians 2: 6-11 is an ancient Christian hymn. It offers many and various points of reflection and can serve as a mini account of redemptive history. Included in the hymn are the core tenets of the Christian faith: The Incarnation, Christ’s sacrifice on the Cross, His subsequent glorification, etc. This window depicts imagery found in the second half of the Christ Hymn. Below the Crucifix, all levels of creation are shown facing the central axis and are bent in praise toward Christ: fish below the waters, animals of the land, birds of the air, and humanity. Behind all of these creatures, simple forms pattern a sense of landscape.
Above the Crucifix, angels surround and praise the Orb—a symbol of Christ’s victory in death. The Crucifix at the center connects the earthly and heavenly realms. Together, these form a vertical thrust toward the apex of the window, expressing a general yearning toward God. A simple gray palette of rectangles frames the imagery. The material beauty of mouth-blown glass complements the stone, polished concrete, and wood used in the chapel. Here, the design recalls the simplicity of the Cistercian grisaille tradition. Just as the Cistercian Preparatory School exists within the context of the Abbey and its monks, the color and imagery of this design are framed by the simplicity of a stone-like gray palette.
Winner of “Religious Art: Visual Art Award” from the Interfaith Forum on Religious Art and Architecture and the American Institute of Architects.
Fr. Peter Verhalen, Abbot
Our Lady of Dallas, Cistercian Abbey, Irving, TX
Architect: Cunningham Architects
Landscape: Hocker Design Group