Immanuel Chapel, Virginia Theological Seminary

Church-on-the-Hill, Virginia Theological Seminary, Alexandria, USA


"The dove, almost moving at high speed, hovers over the baptismal font on the west wing; the oak leaves, representing the Father, the genesis of all that is, sits dignified in the north transept; and the Parable of the Sower from Canterbury Cathedral as it is refracted by the light onto the ground of the Cathedral represents the power of the Incarnation mediated to us through Canterbury to the Episcopal Church in the United States." – the Very Reverend Ian S. Markham.

"Designed by artist Brian Clarke, the three windows feature symbols central to the Episcopal faith: a dove, oak leaves, and the parable of the Sower stained-glass window in Canterbury Cathedral, the Mother Church of the worldwide Anglican Communion. The Chapel’s exterior is a 21st-century example of traditional Virginia architecture in the colonial vernacular. The Chapel’s interior, on the other hand, is contemporary, flexible, and modern. The Clarke windows are set like jewels within the classic interior with its cruciform shape. With the dedication of the windows on February 1, 2018, Immanuel Chapel itself was graced as it continues to be a landmark of formation in the Episcopal Church. It is now a place painted with the prayers of the faithful and bathed in a natural light filtered through the colors, patterns, and textures of three modern stained glass windows, which will be telling for all time the ancient truths of the Christian Tradition. These modern masterpieces in Immanuel Chapel are metaphors as well as works of art. The sun’s light enters the sacred space and banishes the darkness. Heavenly light gives life to the work of human hands. May those who see these windows be moved to say, 'This is good.'" – Virginia Theological Seminary

"The south transept of Immanuel Chapel hosts in its oculus a window to recall the Second Person of the Trinity: God the Son or God the Redeemer. The Immanuel Chapel window was inspired by the ancient glass of the Parable of the Sower window, “an elegant and monumental representation of a working person doing his job”, in the North Quire aisle of Canterbury Cathedral. Clarke found the 12th-century Parable of the Sower window’s reflection on the Cathedral nave’s pavement irresistible. Clarke captured this fleeting image in the Mother Church of Anglicanism and reproduced it in the south transept of Immanuel Chapel. In six layers of stained glass, Clarke offers us a modern, impressionistic interpretation of the parable and the ancient glass of Canterbury. At times, the south window of Clarke’s imagining is reflected on the new blue stone pavement of Immanuel Chapel, just as Clarke saw the original glass in the reflection of light on the Cathedral’s ancient, well-worn pavement."

"The stained glass in Canterbury Cathedral since I was a teenager has had a big impact on me. The level of art achieved in those windows is second to none. There's no question about it; it has long been agreed by even the dustiest of art historians. That stained glass of the Medieval period was the zenith of achievement of those years. Canterbury is one of the greatest achievements in that era. It has all, Alec Guinness says in Kind Hearts and Coronets, it, "…Has all the exuberance of Chaucer with none of the concomitant crudities of [the] period." I think that the Sower was one that particularly took, maybe, and because not only has it got such a powerful and robust narrative. But in abstract terms, it is flawless. The kind of musical rhythms established within it, in terms of the detail of the seeds, and in terms of the movement of colour behind, is only surpassed when the physical window is transformed by nature into the transillumination of colour. It becomes slightly disturbed, but nonetheless present. For those of you who have not compared the Sower window from the Canterbury medallion to this version of it; I recommend you do. I think it's quite a profitable, an enjoyable experience. It, of course, embraces rather more recent technologies than existed in the 13th, the 12th and 13th centuries. But, it's the same material. It's the same essential nature of craftsmanship involved." – Brian Clarke, VTS Convocation 2018.