MERIDEN — Art and architectural historian Amy Prescher recently talked about the historical significance of the city’s stained glass windows at the public library.
“As a student (in New Haven), I was curious about the neighboring towns... so I came up to Meriden,” Prescher said. “...I would walk around to see where I could find other views of the spires of the churches.”
Later as a professor at Middlesex Community College’s Meriden branch, Prescher would frequently take students around Meriden to visit churches. This, she said, got her more interested in the architecture of the buildings.
When Prescher studied the churches, she began to understand the historical significance of stained glass windows.
The windows depicted stories important to the church. Those stories varied by denomination and ethnicity, she said.
“Congregational churches tended not to use stained glass,” Prescher said. “They usually have a more simple kind of aesthetic.”
Prescher explained to the audience of about 25 the meaning behind the stained glass windows at St. Rose of Lima Church, located at 35 Center St., along with other churches in Meriden and a few in Europe.
St. Rose was built in 1856, Prescher said, to cater to the growing number of Irish immigrants. The church is home to a large rose window.
The rose is important because it is the church’s namesake, but it also highlights the use of geometric shapes, colors and numbers to depict a story.
“Even in the Middle Ages, scholars and theologians, were fascinated by the idea of geometry because there’s something inherently harmonious,” Prescher said. “God created the world, creation is based on geometry. Along with numbers.”
Prescher explained that the rose contains the four arms of the cross, eight blue circles, 16 yellow starbursts and 32 pointed rays. This multiplication is meant to show the miracle of creation within the religion.
Designers of religious stained glass tend to include meaning into every aspect of the window, Prescher said.
The April 9 event was part of the historical society’s monthly lecture series and co-sponsored by the public library.
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