Burnt Oak

Black Madonna stained glass Black Madonna stained glass

Black Madonna stained glass Black Madonna stained glass


This design was inspired by the Black Madonna of Czȩstochowa, Poland. The dark tones of the Black Madonna's skin are attributed to a legend that describes a fire that damaged the monastery but left the icon unscathed, except for the discoloration of the pigments of the painting. The window is located at the back of the building, behind 2 rows of short pews where all the notices are displayed.

This provides a good focal point for congregating after services. The proportions of the window only allowed for a seated figure that would fill as much as the space as possible. I took the drawn form from a bronze sculpture found on the internet (unfortunately there was no artist's name attached), as the proportions were just right for the available space.

The client wanted the design to be bright with bold colours. The figures were given rich-coloured clothing, with jewels in their crowns. The colouring was varied by means of the background and decorative border work.


This is quite a small window in a dark area at the back of the church, and I was keen to bring in some vivid colouring, with some lighter glass, to brighten it. The subject of St.James the Great was important for the client.
His own words sum up his reasoning:-
"There are a number of reasons why I chose to have St James adorned on the window. Most significantly my father's name was James and the window where this will be placed is the exact spot where my father would stand when he attended mass. Furthermore, my family has a long association with both the church and the schools, notably St James Catholic High School, where my family and I attended, as well as all of my parents' Grandchildren. The church has been a place of solace for all of our family throughout the years, and somewhere we have all shared fond memories and have had numerous celebrations of our family milestones of Christenings, Holy Communions, Confirmations, Weddings and Funerals. The window is our way of giving something back and acknowledging the place the church has had, and continues to have, in our family life."
Being for a Catholic church, I drew inspiration from the Creed, in which St.James attribution is written in Latin and which I have set into the scroll work. This translates as:-
"Who is conceived of the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary".
The figure on horseback is from a 16th century etching of St.James. It is said that Santiago, (St. James), became a war cry during the Reconquista. The Spanish warriors used to charge the Moors shouting "Santiago, Santiago" and obtain victory through his intercession.
This led to St.James becoming the patron saint of Spain and the pilgrimage of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia that still continues today. Emblem of The Order of Santiago is depicted on the right-hand scroll.