Built St. Louis > > MidCentury Modernism > > Emil Frei Stained Glass > > St. Ann of Normandy Church

St. Ann of Normandy Catholic Church
7530 Natural Bridge Road, Normandy - inner NW County
Architect: Joseph Murphy
Date: 1951

Stained Glass - Emil Frei Co.
Artists - Emil Frei Jr. and Robert Harmon

Even more so than most stained glass, the great window at St. Ann's is designed to change with the light. Aware that the enormous (35' x 35') south-facing window could unleash a blinding flood of light at the congregation, Frei and Harmon designed a window that is more solid than glass. The light that does come through is heavily filtered. The remainder of the window - the better part of its square footage - is painted wood panels.

Accordingly, the window varies enormously depending on when it is viewed. At night, illuminated only from the church's internal lights, it reveals itself as a painted mural with black lines and shapes running through it. Throughout the course of the day, the glass portions may equal or overtake the opaque portions.

The window depicts Calvary Hill in highly abstract form, with the three crosses upon which Jesus and the two thieves were crucified. The repentant thief is at left, with the dove of the Holy Spirit soaring above. At right, the Hand of God reaches towards a darkened void where the third cross might otherwise be - the unrepentant theif. The only literal figure in the composition is Mary. The overall effect is intended to convey notions of cataclysm and cosmic significance.

The window received numerous writeups, even in the popular press.

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