Christians use every kind of art to worship God and to communicate their faith.
They believe that artistic talent, with every other kind of gift and ability, is something that can be used for the glory of God. In many churches, one such way of doing this is by Bible stories being told in stained glass windows.
Stained (or coloured) glass has been used in churches for over a thousand years – it is glass that has been coloured by adding metallic salts during its manufacture. The coloured glass is crafted into windows in which small pieces of glass are arranged to form patterns or pictures, held together by strips of lead and supported by a rigid frame.
The design and purpose of a stained window is to show stories - often from the Bible, from the lives of saints, from national or local history or from literature. Some windows may show an evolving story – for example episodes from the life of Jesus.
Creating a stained glass window needs great skill – not only to make the artistic design but also the engineering skills required to assemble it! A window must fit snugly into the space for which it is made, must resist wind and rain, and also, especially in the larger windows, must support its own weight. Many large windows have withstood the test of time and remained substantially intact since the Late Middle Ages.
Although traditionally made in flat panels and used as windows, the creations of modern stained glass artists also include three-dimensional structures and sculpture.