Saturday, September 13, 2014

New England Reflections 2014 (Cont.): The Platypus Travels Part LI

When I began The Platypus Travels thread, I never thought that I would reach fifty-one posts.  The Platypus of Truth was originally conceived as a sort of daily journal share-able thoughts.  Around 2007-2008, it evolved into a literary blog with The Platypus Reads taking the lion's share of each year's posts.  The share-able thoughts and the book reviews have remained, but I'm pleased to see that The Platypus of Truth as grown over the past years to include poems, academic reflections, classic gaming reviews, and now travel blogging.  If one thread doesn't appeal to you, hopefully another will. From a small seed, this blog has grown into a vast tree and every branch and leaf is dear to me.

Today's post, then, is a short follow-up to this discussion of Victorian stained glass.  Specifically, I want to show you the companion piece on the west side of the church.  This window is in a more traditional style and features the Agnus Dei, or "Lamb of God".  The window is specifically dedicated in memory of the children that past away; whether in a specific epidemic in 1906 or over the course of several years is unclear from the dedication.  The Agnus Dei is a symbol of the Resurrection and thus fitting for a memorial window.  It may also be a reference to Blake's Little Lamb which had been converted into a popular children's hymn.  The daisies between the Lamb's feet are symbols of simplicity and are a typical emblem on memorials for dead children.  The Sunflowers in the field behind the Lamb are typically associated with the Roman Catholic faithful, an odd touch in an Episcopal church.  The lilies in the bottom panel are symbols of purity and resurrection.  The IHS can stand for the first three letters of Jesus' name in Greek or for the Latin "In Hoc Signo" (In This Sign [Conquor]).  The later is particularly fitting given that the Agnus Dei is an image of the victorious Christ from Revelation.  The oval that the central portrait sits in is a feature of byzantine icons and depicts a window into heaven.  The cross is a broadfooted cross with the triangular ends representing the Trinity(as do the clusters of three circles around the IHS and the fluer de lis around the Lamb).  The image of the Lamb creates a nimbus around the cross that gives it a Celtic flair.*  Since the sun was decidedly in the east when we visited the church, the window lacks the dazzling luminescence of its companion.  I can only imagine what it looks like in the light of the full afternoon sun.

*For help with interpreting the symbols on this window I am indebted to Douglas Keister's handy guide on funerary symbolism, Stories in Stone: A Field Guide to Cemetery Symbolism and Iconography.

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