BBC HomeExplore the BBC
This page has been archived and is no longer updated. Find out more about page archiving.

14 October 2014
In Pictures (image: camera lens)Religion & EthicsIn pictures

BBC Homepage
Religion Homepage

Contact Us

St Bernard stained glass panels

Woman sitting in a chair, carried by men, prays to St Bernard

As St Bernard was entering Metz he cured a paralysed woman in the presence of the Bishop, saying "Pray to the Saint and depart".

The St Bernard stained glass panels at St Mary's church, Shrewsbury, are being taken out on the first weekend of March 2007. They are going to the prestigious Museum Schnütgen of Cologne for their international exhibition on 16th century German stained glass.

Photo © The Churches Conservation Trust

St Bernard on a mule as a peasant kneels before him with his hand outstretched

St Bernard, while riding his mule, meets a peasant and accuses him of wandering thoughts in prayer, which he disputes. St Bernard tells him to say the Lord's Prayer straight. The peasant says "Our Father which art in Heaven (yes, I shall get that mule) hallowed be Thy Name (I wonder whether I shall get the saddle too?)"

Photo © The Churches Conservation Trust

Harvest scene as St Bernard kneels

St Bernard cannot keep up with the reapers. He prays for grace to reap as they do, so he is able to do his full share of the work.

The exhibition will also feature glass loaned from the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of New York, the German National Museum in Nuremberg, Cologne Cathedral and the Printrooms in Hamburg.

Photo © The Churches Conservation Trust

St Bernard stands in front of a desk laden with books, surrounded by people

St Bernard reflects on his life
The Shrewsbury panels represent the largest surviving collection of the original set. They depict the well-documented life of Saint Bernard of Clairvaux, one of the major influences on 12th century monastic life in Europe.

Photo © The Churches Conservation Trust

Full view of the three arched windows holding the stained glass panels of St Bernard

The window
Known as the St Bernard panels, the windows come from the cloisters of the Abbey of Altenberg, near Cologne, and are some of the finest examples of 16th century stained glass.

Photo © Stephen Perry

Scaffolding placed in front of the windows, as men work on removing the panels

Taking them down
The panels have been removed by the German specialists, Glasmalerei Peters, under the supervision of the Churches Conservation Trust's glass conservation team.

Photo © Stephen Perry

Three men ponder over a panel that has been removed

The panels
At the Reformation, around the 16th century, large numbers of stained glass windows all over England were smashed and replaced with plain glass on the orders of King Henry VIII. Thousands of windows in Britain were lost, and this was followed by destruction of stained glass in France too, after the French Revolution. The windows were still important across Germany, however.

Photo © Stephen Perry

Each panel is carefully placed inside a wooden carton

Packing away
Each panel is carefully placed inside its individual wooden carton.

The St Bernard panels were brought to Shrewsbury by the Rev William Rowland in the 19th century from Germany, who took advantage of the sale of considerable amounts of superb glass from mainland Europe at that time.

Photo © Stephen Perry

Three arched windows in the church wall, showing the temporary replacement windows.

The replacements
Exact replica panels with transparencies of the originals have been temporarily put in their place.

The process of creating stained glass pieces has not changed very dramatically over the past ten centuries. Much of the work is still done by hand, and only the paints and kilns have changed. Depending on the detail of the glass, it may take weeks to complete one small panel.

Photo © Stephen Perry

St Mary's church interior

St Mary's church
The Church that houses the panels is St Mary's in Shrewsbury and is cared for by The Churches Conservation Trust. Peter Williams, author of St Mary's church guidebook says, "It is hard to believe that people in Shrewsbury and Shropshire - in the whole country indeed - are so little aware of this brilliant collection of glass. St Mary's is the finest medieval building left in Shrewsbury and an important national monument, with thousands of visitors from all over the world. Its windows are a huge bonus."

Photo © Stephen Perry

Other galleries »

Send us your feedback

If you have enjoyed a gallery, or have an idea for a gallery you would like to see, please email us with your feedback.

About the BBC | Help | Terms of Use | Privacy & Cookies Policy