PHOTO | SARAH HALL STUDIOS
Sarah Hall stands before the Glory window in progress at Glasmalerei Peters Studio in Germany where her windows were created.
One of the most striking features of Saskatoon's new Cathedral of the Holy Family is the innovative stained glass that adorns the building's white spire.
Those driving by on busy Attridge Drive can clearly see the solar-cell-equipped glass art of Lux Gloria, arrayed in three large sections of colour - red, gold and blue-green. Twelve small golden crosses are visible in the swirling colours of the glass panels.
Canadian artist Sarah Hall says the design was inspired by prairie skies and the glory of light and creation. Visiting Saskatoon recently for the installation of five interior non-solar windows that she also designed, Hall reflected on the impact of the solar stained glass feature.
"I am so happy, because for the first time we have been able to bring strong colour to the outside of a building," she said. Traditional stained glass is often invisible from the outside.
Even on a grey day, the colour captures attention, and when the sun hits the spire, the effect is both "dazzling and celestial," she said. "For me, this celebrates the glory of God."
The south-facing Lux Gloria panes collect solar energy to help meet the building's electrical needs. God has created light, and from that gift we are also creating light, and honouring the gifts of creation, noted Hall.
"There is a partnership with the sun and a partnership with light and it is manifested in such a way that is only possible with our latest technologies."
Inside the building, in the cathedral's worship space, five stained glass windows circle the sanctuary, drawing eyes upward to the upper-level windows.
Inspired by the Saskatchewan landscape, the Scriptures and the story of revelation, the five windows are entitled Creation, Covenant, Incarnation, Resurrection and Glory.
The five windows create a narrative. "They are part of a story. These are not just windows, they are proclamations," she said.
At the same time, the themes are also cyclical, containing images of life, death and the emergence of new life. "It's a universal story as well."
The five themes span the story of divine revelation - beginning with Creation, then moving to Covenant with its imagery of the rainbow, the burning bush and the parting of the Red Sea.
The Incarnation window explores the theme of God coming to dwell among us, enfleshed in the here and now of this time and place, said Hall. "Between Covenant and the next window, Resurrection, comes Incarnation, the birth of Christ. That has to be the strongest light - it is pivotal."
The Resurrection window above the altar features imagery of light and revelation, and text in Aramaic, the language of Jesus: words from the Sermon on the Mount, including the Beatitudes and the Lord's Prayer, as well as the Apostles' Creed.
The fifth window is entitled Glory. Texts sent by Bishop Donald Bolen helped Hall to depict the transformation of eternity.
Hall turned to the parable of the kingdom of God being like a mustard seed that grows to be the largest tree, filled with birds of every kind - depicting a tree of life bursting with motion and colour, showing a world of light and beauty transformed and born anew as in a beatific, eternal vision.
In their stunning beauty, the windows are a way of evangelizing to our culture in a gentle and profound way, said Bolen. "Their beauty is going to attract people in our community - even people who are not Catholic, or even Christian."