Trinity Church Rejuvenation

Recognizing the Saints

by: 
James Melchiorre

Trinity Church Wall Street looks forward to the day when the church re-opens to the public for worship and fellowship, and when the recent 20-month-long rejuvenation of the nave can be seen by all, up close and personal. Fortunately, in the interim, we have the photographs of Colin Winterbottom, shot over the period of the rejuvenation project, to give us all a closer look at various parts of the 174-year-old building, including the stained-glass window at the western end of the nave.

Trinity Church Nave
A visitor sees the stained-glass window when facing westward inside the Trinity Church nave.

That window dates from 1846, when the third and current church building, considered the masterpiece of architect Richard Upjohn, was consecrated on Ascension Day, which fell during that year on Thursday, May 21, as it will again later this month. The window features early American stained glass, which was very unusual in the 1840s when most stained glass came from Europe. While the window has dozens of intricate features to appreciate, the eye is drawn to the seven figures, all men, across the middle.

The central figure is likely the easiest to identify. It’s Jesus.

Stained Glass - Jesus Christ

But who surrounds him?

Stained Glass - St. Peter
A close-up of St. Peter

On the far left is St. Peter, who is holding the keys traditionally associated with him in the Gospel according to Matthew (16:19).

Stained Glass - St. Matthew
St. Matthew

Speaking of Matthew, the evangelist whose work appears first in the New Testament is shown second from the left, with a winged child which, some say, references Matthew's account of the genealogy of Jesus in chapter 1.

Stained Glass - St. Mark
This image is of St. Mark.

Next to St. Matthew is St. Mark, whose gospel appears second (although scholars believe it was written first). St. Mark is symbolized by a lion.

Stained Glass - St. Luke
This image is of St. Luke.

To the immediate right of Jesus is St. Luke, Physician and Evangelist, with the ox as his symbol. While all the symbols of the evangelists have been debated over the centuries, one theory for the ox stems from the fact that Luke’s account begins in the Temple, the scene of animal sacrifice.

Stained Glass - St. John the Evangelist
St. John the Evangelist

Next on the right comes St. John, pictured as a much younger man, as he is often portrayed in scripture. An eagle is John’s symbol and there are many theories about why. A popular interpretation is that an eagle soars toward the heavens and the fourth gospel begins not on earth but in heaven, in the depths of eternity.

Stained Glass - The Apostle Paul
The Apostle Paul, though not one of the Twelve

Finally, on the right-hand end is Paul of Tarsus, represented with a sword to symbolize his martyrdom. Placing St. Paul on the right allows him, with St. Peter, to bookend the group.

Stained Glass - Trinity Church Nave
Looking down on the seven figures of the Trinity stained-glass wndow during the rejuvenation of the nave.

Colin Winterbottom captured many images from scaffolding high above the floor during rejuvenation. Trinity will share more of them in the weeks ahead. Until Trinity Church is able to re-open, consider these images as you would a Zoom call, definitely not the experience you'd prefer but, under the circumstances, perhaps the next best thing.