Saturday, February 9, 2013

Isaias' coal

 from R. Toland Wright's Isaiah window in Broadway Methodist. Cleveland, O.

Et volávit ad me unus de séraphim, et in manu ejus cálculus, quem fórcipe túlerat de altári, 
And one of the seraphims flew to me, and in his hand was a live coal, which he had taken with the tongs off the altar. -- Isaias xi. 6.
-- from the First reading of the 5th Sunday of Ordinary Time

Wright's windows are dense with color and lines. In the 1920s he made several windows for prominent Protestant churches of Cleveland, and its chief (only substantial) suburbs, Lakewood and Cleveland Heights. Some of these were of Old Testament prophets. If the prophets are not labelled, there is very little to differentiate them. Often they are identical, or interchangeable, in appearance in a group.

There are a couple of iconographic items for Isaiah:  a saw, the instrument of his martyrdom; and here, the live coal picked up by a pair of tongs. Isaiah describes his calling to be a prophet. He saw God and his seraphim in the temple. He heard them cry out the Sanctus prayer, that is sung at Mass. One of the angels touched his lips/mouth with a hot coal and Isaias is rendered fit for his office, which he accepts.

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