Stained Glass Windows

Stained glass windows teach lessons of the faith in addition to dappling the interior of the church with colored light. We actually get the word “story” when describing levels of a building from stained glass windows- traditionally, each level of stained glass windows told a story of our faith. Text in italics gives background information about the donor of the window. 

You should start your tour of the windows of St. Leo’s at the main entrance, on the left side of the church looking from the street.

1. Immediately over your head as you go through the door leading into the left vestibule is the coat of arms of the late Rev. Eugene J. McGuinness, second Bishop of Raleigh. He served from 1937 to 1944. He authored two books; “The Rosary, It’s Origin and Use” and “Life of the Little Flower.” The slogan under the arms is “Omnia Omnibus” which means “All to all.” It is a reference to 1Corinthians 9:22, in which St. Paul writes about his efforts to win people over to Christ: “I have made myself all things to all men in order to save at least some of them.” The coat of arms is surmounted by the symbols of a bishop’s authority; his miter (hat), a cross and the top of his crozier (staff). Dr. Wright attended priests of St. Leo’s

2. The window over the magazine rack depicts the Vatican II council taking place in Rome at St. Peter’s. Shown are the spiral columns of the baldacchino (canopy) over the high altar, and behind that are the papal tiara and chair in the sculpture by Bernini. This is one of the newest windows. Mrs. Jane Womble gave the window when Bishop Begley was pastor here 1966 - 71. Her husband’s father founded the law firm of Womble, Carlyle, Sandridge and Rice.

3. Go into the church and look back at the window over the door. It depicts Pope Leo the Great saving Rome from attack by Attila the Hun. Attila entered Italy in the year 452 and began looting and burning the country. Pope Leo the Great’s trust in God and unruffled sense of purpose was so great that he was able to meet with Attila and persuade him to abandon his scheme. The head of Christ is here to show that diving power was at work. 

Windows on the left side of the church, when facing the altar and walking towards it:

4. St. Theresa of Lisieux, the “Little Flower” is shown in her religious habit clutching a bunch of roses. She was canonized in 1925, just two years before the construction of our church. On her deathbed in 1897, she promised to “spend my He in doing good on earth,” and many miracles have been attributed to her intercession. She is patroness of missionaries and her feast day is Oct. 1. She was the favorite saint of the late John O’Day, who had a daughter named Teresa.

5. St. Elizabeth, the mother of John the Baptist, utters her famous question on the next window, “But who am I that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” (Luke 1:43). Her feast day is Nov. 5. Petway was known as an outstanding salesman for L.B. Price of St. Louis.

6. The Finding in the Temple shows the child Jesus, scroll in hand, demonstrating that he is progressing “steadily in wisdom and age and grace before God and men,” (Luke 2:52) with the help of his Mother, who motions as if teaching a divine truth. The late Martin Baylin was a baseball player in the 30’s. His widow, Floretta, ran Baylin Dance Studio on Hawthorne Rd. for many years.

7. St. Anthony of Padua depicted in a typical way: the Christ Child stands on an open book held by the saint, and gives him a lily, the saint’s symbol. St. Anthony had an unusually retentive memory (making him the saint of lost objects), and became known for his great knowledge of the Bible. A Franciscan, he was also famous for his preaching. He died in 1231. Frederick Toomey Koch, a resident of Dunkirk, NY., died on June 13, 1943, of a skull fracture he received in an automobile accident that took place in Forsyth Country the day before. He was 18. His parents were William L. and Loretta A. Toomey Koch, also of Dunkirk. June 13th is Anthony’s feast day.

8. The angel Raphael, shown here holding a spear and a fish. The fish is a reminder of the story in the book of Tobit, in which the angel commands Tobiah to roast the fish but save certain parts for their healing and spiritual powers. On a symbolic level, this also reminds us of the healing power of Christ, of whom the fish is a common symbol. Anies Daye’s middle name was Raphael. The Dayes, who were Lebanese, were one of the founding families of the church. Anies Daye ran a soda fountain downtown in the 40’s

9. St. Francis of Assisi stands on the next window with a sheep on the left and a wolf on the right. It reminds one of the story of the wolf of Gubbio, which had been doing great damage to flocks. St. Francis addressed it as “Brother Wolf,” protected it, and set about to reform it. Note the birds flying about the saint, and the stigmata with which St. Francis is afflicted. His feast day is Oct. 4th.

10. The Annunciation. The angel Gabriel holds a wand as a symbol of his commission from God. His feast is Sept. 29. He is the patron of messengers and communication workers. Mrs. Margaret Campourakis, a Greek parishioner, died in the late 30’s.

11. The large window showing the Virgin Mary has several interesting features, besides being of great beauty because of the prevalence of blue. Blue is the color of heaven, truth and fidelity, qualities we associate with the Virgin Mary. The Virgin Mary is shown with the moon under her feet (Rev. 12:1), and treading on a snake, the symbol of Satan. Roses are depicted in the pane on the right side of the Virgin Mary, while lilies are in the pane on the other side. Both flowers symbolize purity, and lilies in particular are an attribute of virginity. The window was donated by St. Theresa’s Guild.

12. The crucifixion, with the Virgin Mary and beloved disciple John at the foot of the cross.

13. To see the next window, you have to go forward towards the door on the left and look up over it. This window shows Jesus with a shepherd’s staff in his hands, wearing a crown of thorns. It dates probably from the late sixties. Rios, who died in 1971, was the city’s best-known stamp collector. He was also noted for his singing ability.

Windows in the sanctuary:

14. Over the door on the left leading to the sacristy is a window similar to the last one, this time showing the Virgin Mary. Mrs. Evans was Fr. Begley’s housekeeper in the 60’s.

15. In the left corner of the chancel is a window with St. Scholastica, which faces a window showing her brother, St. Benedict, opposite. These two windows are here because Benedictine priests founded the church and operated it until 1942, when the church came under the care of the Diocese of Raleigh. St. Scholastica was an abbess over the convent near St. Benedict’s monastery. Brother and sister would visit one a year to praise God and confer over spiritual matters. She is shown here with a dove. This refers to a vision St. Benedict had at the time of her death, in which he saw the soul of his sister ascending to heaven in the likeness of a dove. Her feast day is Feb. 10. She is patroness of convulsive children. Clement Manly (1853 - 1928) was a major benefactor involved in the building of the church. A lawyer and bachelor, he was leader and member of the St. Leo’s choir for many years. His funeral in 1928 was the first conducted in the new church.

16 & 17: Angels hold Communion under both forms. One may contemplate them in hearing the prayer of the Mass: “In humble prayer we ask you almighty God: command that these gifts be borne by the hands of your holy Angel to your altar on high in the sight of your divine majesty, so that all of us, who through this participation at the altar receive the most holy Body and Blood of your Son, may receive every grace and heavenly blessing.” J.P. Money, an engineer, helped build the Reynolda estate about 1918, at what is now the site of Wake Forest University.

18. Directly over the crucifix is a triangular window with an eye in it. The eye is, of course, God’s. The shape of the window symbolizes the trinity. 

19. The first window on the right (after the angel with the Host) is St. Benedict, who bears a scroll which reads “Ora et Labora” or “Pray and Work” the instructions of St. Benedict in his Rule. Benedict, revolted by the licentiousness of city life, escaped to solitude but soon attracted followers, who he organized into monastic life. He died in 547. His feast day is July 11. He is the patron of cave explorers.

20. Next over is St. Jerome, one of the four Latin Fathers of the church. He is shown barefooted because of his sharply ascetic life. He pens a book in reference to his work in producing a new translation of the Bible into Latin (the Vulgate). He is the patron of librarians, and died in 420. The Angelos were also one of our Church’s founding families. Their patriarch, Zaffaroni Angelo - an Italian stone-cutter, donated the land on which the church now stands. Angelo had a great devotion to St. Jerome, whose feast day is Sept. 30th.

Windows on the right side of the church, facing the altar and walking away from it:

21. The conversion of St. Paul on the road to Damascus. With him are his companions, who are not identified in the Bible story. St. Paul is shown wearing a sword, symbolic of his martyrdom in Rome. The Darrs and Francis Edward R. Payne, on the next window, were related to Mrs. Jane Womble, who donated window 2.

22. The baptism of Christ. John the Baptist (feast day June 24) is depicted in the traditional goatskin, but note the modern-looking canteen he’s wearing at his waist. He is using a shell to pour the water over Christ, while above, the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove makes His appearance. 

23. The large window of St. Joseph both complements and contrasts with the one of the Blessed Virgin Mary opposite. The window of the Virgin, dominated by blue, conveys an attitude of repose and meditation, while the St. Joseph window, with overtones of gold, is radiant. This is heightened to great effect in the late afternoon, when the son shines directly through this and the other windows on the west side. Yellow, the color of faithfulness, is the color associated with St. Joseph, just as blue is associated with the Virgin Mary. St. Joseph has his traditional attributes with him in the window; on the right is a saw, and on the left are the hatchet and a carpenter’s square. The staff Joseph is holding is in bloom, a reference to the story about how he was chosen to be the Virgin Mary’s husband; the high priest had all the unmarried men of the House of David lay their staff on the altar, and Joseph’s was the one that bloomed. The staff blooms here with lilies, a symbol of his purity. Window donated by Knights of Columbus.

24. St. Paul heals the crippled man of Lystra (Acts 14:8-23). The cure caused many to convert, but Paul was then stoned and left for dead. 

25. The Stoning of St. Stephen. St. Stephen was the first martyr for the faith and his death takes place in Acts 6 - 7. He died asking God to forgive his murderers. Saul (Paul, after his conversion later) was present, but was not one of the stone-throwers. So he’s not shown here. Stephen’s feast is Dec. 26. He is the patron of bricklayers and stonemasons.

26. St. Augustine, one of the church’s greatest scholars. He is shown with one of his greatest books, “De Doctrina Christiana” (Christian Doctrine). The ray of light coming from heaven, illuminating the word, “Veritas” (Truth), is common in pictorial representations of this saint. He died in 430 and his feast day is Aug. 28. John Ruff was a German immigrant.

27. St. Leo confers instruction. Who’s the man kneeling? The fact that the window is in memory of Benedictine Father Willibald Baumgartner suggests several possibilities: St. Benedict, perhaps, or even Abbot-Bishop Leo Haid, the first Abbott of Belmont Abbey. The Benedictines named our church after the patron saint of their beloved Abbot-Bishop Haid. It’s common for religious art to show a meeting between people who did not live at the same time, in order to show a spiritual link. Pope Leo couldn’t have met St. Benedict, either. Father Willibald was a priest here in 1916, when the fund drive for the present church began. The first church was a wooden building on 4th St. where the West End Café now stands.

28. St. Michael, shown casting Satan into hell (Rev. 12:79). Protector of the Church Militant, it is his office to receive spirits released from death and weigh them in a balance. Patron of grocers, paratroopers, policemen, and radiologists, his feast day is Sept. 29. Michael Angelo donated the window in memory of his father, Zaffaroni Angelo, who had a devotion to this saint - see window 21.

29. Christ’s Ascension. The letters IHS are the first three letters of Ihsus, Jesus’ name in Greek.

This brings us to the back of the church. Directly before you is:

30. A warm-colored window showing a ship sailing over a green whale. Lanier Williams, son of the late Mrs. William Smith Williams, remembers the window as being dedicated to Columbus. Of course, there are multiple references possible besides; to the story of Jonah, which Christ used to prefigure his own death and resurrection; to Christ’s words that he would make His disciples “fishers of men,” etc. 

31. Over the door leading out to the left is a window with the Madonna and Child and the slogan, “Peter hath spoken through Leo.” Here’s the story: in the years 448-449, the church was beset with great controversy regarding the nature of Christ. Heretics denied the twofold nature (human and divine) of Christ. Leo, by then Pope, on June 13, 449, wrote his famous pronouncement on the matter, the “Tome of Leo” which was read to the assembled bishops at the Council of Chalcedon. “Peter has spoken through Leo!” the bishops exclaimed, when they heard his convincing explanation. St. Leo’s definition became the Church’s subsequent teaching of the nature of Christ. E.W. Dunham was owner of the Zinzendorf Hotel, one of Winston-Salem’s grand hotels in the days of rail travel. A parking lot covers the location downtown.

32. Go through the door and look at the window on the right which shows the coat of arms of Vincent S. Waters, Bishop of Raleigh from 1945 to 1974. The slogan, “Omnia per Mariam'' means “Everything through Mary.” Joseph A. Glod was the father of Dr. Albert P. Glod.

33. The window over the door leading outside shows St. Leo in full regalia. Note the rubies on his gloves, which are duplicated in wood on the statue of St. Leo in the back of the Church.

Now go back inside and up into the choir loft and look at the big window in the choir loft:

34. At the top, a dove symbolizes the Holy Spirit. Angels fly in from both sides. Below the dove is a pane showing the lamb and a cross. This represents Christ, the “Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.” The four major sections of the back window are topped by symbols which represent the four Evangelists. They are: 

A cherub in human form represents St. Matthew, because the Gospel writer emphasized the human ancestry of Christ and his Incarnation. 

A winged lion represents St. Mark because his Gospel emphasizes the royal dignity of Christ, the Lion of Judah

An ox represents St. Luke because that writer emphasized the priesthood of Christ, the ox being a symbol of sacrifice.

An eagle represents St. John, a symbol of highest inspiration.

Below are the 12 disciples, with Matthias replacing Judas the Betrayer.

St. Peter - he holds keys, in reference to Christ’s promise to give him the “Keys of Heaven.” His other hand is raised as if imparting a lesson, symbolizing his teaching role as head of the Church. The shield he’s standing on has the inverse cross of his martyrdom. Peter requested crucifixion upside-down, not considering himself worthy to be crucified in the same way as Christ.

St. James - holding a staff, is seated over the shield with three shells. The staff and shells are both symbols of pilgrimage. St. James went as far as Spain to spread the faith.

St. John - he’s shown looking up to heaven and holding a book, ready to write down what God inspires. His shield below has a snake coming out of a goblet. That is a reference to the Roman Emperor Domitian’s attempt to murder him by making him drink poison. St. John took up the cup and the poison departed in the form of a snake.

St. Andrew - his shield shows the x-shaped cross of his martyrdom. He is the patron saint of Scotland. Look at the British flag sometime and you will see the white “X” behind the red cross of England’s st. George. That “X” is taken from the Scottish flag which derives from St. Andrew’s cross.

St. Phillip - he holds a staff with a cross at the top. The saint performed miracles with the cross and was martyred with the staff. The loaves in the basket (on his shield) refer to his main Biblical appearance, in the scene of the multiplication of loaves. 

St. Thomas - he holds his spear that pierced Christ (in reference to his doubt), and looks a little doubtful, too. His shield has a carpenter’s square, which refers to an interesting story: Thomas , the apostle who spread the faith to India, was given a large amount of money by the King of the Indes to build a palace. But the apostle gave it to the poor instead. The King then had a vision of a palace in heaven. St. Thomas explained that through faith and charity in this world, it was possible to build a store of wealth in heaven. 

St. Bartholomew is pictured here holding a cross, but he’s usually shown with a large knife, the instrument of his martyrdom. He was skinned alive. But the shield below him, a book and inkpot, refers to his status as patron saint of bookbinding.

St. Matthew is depicted writing his Gospel. The three money bags on the shield below him refer to his occupation of tax collector. He’s their patron saint too.

St. James the Less, is shown holding a fuller’s club. Fulling is a cloth making occupation. A fuller increases the weight of cloth by shrinking and beating. The story goes that St. James the Less was martyred by being thrown from the roof of a temple in Jerusalem, then beaten to death with a club of this type. The miter shown on the shield below him refers to the fact that he is said to have been the first bishop of Jerusalem. 

St. Simon the Zealot, is shown holding a cross, rather than the usual saw of his martyrdom. The shield below him has a fish lying on top of the book.

St. Jude is shown over a shield that has a boat on it, with a cross on the mainsail. He is the patron of desperate situations.

St. Matthias, chosen to replace Judas as the 12th disciple after the death and resurrection of Jesus, is shown carrying the halberd, a type of weapon with an axe-like blade at the end of a long staff. It was, of course, the instrument of his martyrdom. The shield below contains texts from the Gospel of St. John and Genesis.

The windows in the choir loft were made by High Point Glass and Decorative Co. and put in when Bishop Begley was pastor of the church in the 1940’s. The artist was probably a man named Peter Brown, a Catholic Irish man. He left the company during the war years to get a job in the shipyards of Norfolk, VA. He did not return. The company also made at least seven of the aisle windows. These seven windows are the newer ones toward the back of the church. They can be distinguished from the older ones at the front part of the nave by the following: a different style of type identifying the donor (the older windows are etched, while the newer ones are clear); the newer ones use a pale glass for flesh tones, while the older ones use a grey glass; in the newer windows, the portrait is surrounded by a beaded border, while the older ones have only a suggestion of beads in a clear border. Interestingly, the distribution of new and older aisle windows shows the west side was filled out more quickly. 

The angel windows by the altar are slightly different from either of the other types. People remember these angels as having been put in when the church was built. 

For a printable version of this tour click here