Rose Window - Its Meaning and Explanation
The circular window on the west gable wall (seen as
one looks at the gallery) was designed by Evie Hone and was considered
by the late Sir John Betjeman to be one of the finest examples of 20th
century stained glass in Europe.
The description in the following pages is intended as a guide to help worshippers and casual visitors in their understanding of its fascinating symbolism.
The Cock is associated with an old Irish legend of Saint Peter's Cock and the Resurrection. The crowing of the cock is a warning to Peter as to his steadfastness and as a rebuke to his weakness. (Mark 14, 72)
The two symbols encircled in red and shaped like the English letters X and P are in fact the two Greek capital letters Chi and Rho respectively. They are simply the first two letters of the Greek word "Christos" meaning 'Christ'. The ChiRho symbol is Sometimes called the 'Constantine Cross', as it is said to have been adopted by the Emperor Constantine when he became a Christian.
The Cross in this form represents Christ's suffering
and death through which he won salvation for men, and the two doves his
The circle symbolises eternity and this is given emphasis by the two Greek letters Alpha (A) and Omega (0), the first and the last letters of the Greek alphabet. This clarifies our Lord's claim in Revelation chapter 1 : 'I am alpha and omega, the beginning and the end".
The Fishes are often thought to represent the
sacrament of Baptism and our responsibility as Christians to witness and
evangelise. We are reminded of this responsibility in our Lord's words:
'I will make you fishers of men" (Luke 5).
The Fish was a secret sign used by the early persecuted Christians to designate themselves as believers in Jesus. The initial letters of the Greeks words for "Jesus Christ, God's Son, Saviour" spell "ICTHUS", the Greek word for fish.
The Three Hares form an equilateral triangle, symbolising the unity of the Trinity - Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Research has shown that this symbol is found throughout the world.................more
The Eagle is the symbol of the Apostle, John the
Evangelist, the patron saint of this parish church.
The eagle is said to be able to gaze into the
brightness of the sun without blinking ‑ the only bird to be able
to do so. In the same way Saint John is recognised as being the one
evangelist who penetrates theological truths and depths more than any of
the other writers of the Gospel and could recognise Jesus Christ as the
"Light that lighteth every man that cometh into the world".
(John 1). That is why many lecterns, as in this church, are symbolised
by the eagle.
The most obvious display of the eagle in this building can be seen in the Belfast‑made pottery and mosaic mural behind the altar in the Edward Garrett Memorial Chapel.
The Lamb resting beneath the Cross ‑ the Cross is in the old form of a hooked cross ‑ represents the soul of the departed Christian. The "Agnus Dei" (Lamb of God) has been associated with the sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ : "Behold the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world". (John 1, 29)
The Alpha and Omega are once again to be seen at the very
centre of the rose window and are possibly best summed up in the words
of Frederic W. H. Myers:
"Christ is the end, for Christ was the beginning
Christ the beginning, for the end is Christ".