Tuesday, July 5, 2011

the Oil Can windows

This a church visible from several points. This view is from East Boulevard on a hazy day. The pie window is visible. This church has been called the 'Holy Oil Can', it is currently University Circle United Methodist. It was built just days before the Cold Storage Building [1926-8 v. '28-9].

Tuesday, i stopped for the first time to enter the Oil Can Church in University Circle, Cleveland. It is sort of reminiscent of the Mont Saint-Michel on a tidal island in Normandy, but more of a giant Oil Can (gallican gothic meets art deco gotham).

I was impressed, by the small scenes of the windows. The large windows, as in several local protestant temples of architectural distinction in the area, wish to be imitative of the cathedrals in Chartres, Canterbury, and some other grand mediæval wonders. The trouble with that is they overwhelm. They sit too high, and have too much. One needs an hour, and a pair of binoculars, for each. They are impressive, and even magnificent, but lack directiveness, and warmth; too many scenes on too slender a light.


In the narthex, between the nave doors, and the outside main doors, there are beautiful small windows that one can take in. There is a double methodist window of John Wesley, and Francis Asbury. And there are the catholic windows. First century saints of the initial generation are often found.
Now, Lazarus of Bethany, had two sisters Mary and Martha. In the narthex they have two separate lancet windows. The upper portion, of each, has the standing sister; the lower has the sister with Jesus. Martha was the dutiful housekeeper, Mary was the admiring audience.
There was a double lancet window, each with two scenes, as the Mary and Martha windows, of Francis of Assisi and Girolamo Savonarola. Francis is often the only saint after the first station that makes an appearance in a protestant church. In the top he is in the company of a trio of birdies, and a squirrel — no surprise. The bottom scene is not that well known of an episode. During the Fifth Crusade (1219), Francis at Damietta, a port on the Nile, crossed the line to speak with the Sultan of Egypt, Malik al-Kamil, nephew of Saladin. Francis wanted to convert him, the Sultan was amused. Francis was courting martyrdom, the sultan was impressed with his sincerity, presence, and fool-hardiness. How many people know this story, and recognise that window.
Il falò delle vanità martedì grasso. The most famous bonfire of the vanities (all the items that may aid in an occasion of sin) took place in Florence on the day before Lent in 1497. Savonarola was a Dominican. Dominicans were a preaching order. In 1494 the French invaded Florence. The ruling family, the Medicis were driven away, and Savonarola declared a christian republic. He was a strict moralist, he did not advocate new theology, but a rigid adherence to faith and morals. His chief target was the corrupt current pope, Rodrigo Borgia, Alexander VI. Borgia would win the battle.
There is a chapel with a rose window, or in this case — a pie window, having six wedges. Each wedge is a parable, and notation of the first line of chapter and verse is given. One is of the rich man and poor Lazarus. English protestants had traditionaly called this one Dives and Lazarus, using 'Dives' as a proper name. By the window detail, and the Scripture, we see the rich man (dives) in purple at table; and we see Lazarus, without food being licked by a dog. It is a beautiful, and illustrative window [the blue is solid, it lightened up in this exposure].
Homo quidam erat dives, qui induebátur púrpura et bysso, et epulabátur quotídie spléndide. — Luke xvi. 19

There was a certain rich man, who was clothed in purple and fine linen; and feasted sumptuously every day. And there was a certain beggar, named Lazarus, who lay at his gate, full of sores, desiring to be filled with the crumbs that fell from the rich man's table, and no one did give him; moreover the dogs came, and licked his sores. — Luke xvi. 19-21.

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