Art Glass at St. Philip the Apostle Church
Dalle de verre
The Beautiful Light of Broken Places
When a mirror is broken, one often hears the superstitious phrase, “Oh, seven years of bad luck.” As believers in the light of Jesus Christ, we do not see our world as a place for luck or even as one of good or bad fortune. We are people who see with the “eyes of faith” meaning, that our world is a place of God’s gifts, blessing and Providence at work. St. Paul reminds us that, “all things work together for good for those who love God.” Romans 8:28. Broken glass can be quite beautiful, as is demonstrated in the stained-glass windows that grace the main entrance wall of our Church, Narthex (lobby) area and our church’s Reredos (the altarpiece or screen behind our altar). The art glass is illuminated from behind and adds a subtle beauty to our altar space. The artwork is designed as an enhancement that supports the focal points of the Ambo and Altar during the Eucharist. At other times, the focus is the Tabernacle and Crucifix.
The rich colored, jeweled tone glass has a French name, Dalle de verre, which means – thick slabs of glass. Like most things, the French name is more beautiful. The origin of Dalle de verre glass dates to the Byzantine Empire whose love of mosaics was channeled into the creation of similar patterns in colorful windows. The style went out of fashion until French artists in the 1920s revitalized the art form. Pioneer Auguste Lobouret brought this form of stained-glass to Canada after World War II and to the United States in the early 1950s. 75 years ago, when this glass was chosen for our church, it was – pun intended – cutting edge!
The secret of the beauty of Dalle de verre stained glass is that the glass is broken. Each individual glass slab is artfully chipped and cracked. These seeming imperfections, called facets, enable light to be radiated in multiple ways that emit brilliant and dazzling color tones. Another secret of their iridescence is the contrast of the thick dark frame surrounding the glass with the bright glow of the variated light shining through.
In addition, the delicate glass colors symbolize our lives that shine with diversity, radiating the light of Christ. We shine forth with God’s gifts. Each piece has been intentionally chipped and broken to refract a varied light. The light of Christ shines through our broken places when we embrace forgiveness and healing grace. We radiate our finest colors and truest beauty when we shine with empathetic and compassionate acts of love and service for one another.