Delighting in God: Holy Spirit window

CathedraPetri-Gloria2 cropped

Friday 28th February 2020

I enjoyed a lovely holiday in Rome several years ago with a group of friends, exploring the city and surrounding areas. We visited all the usual sights and walked miles from place to place, trying to see as much as possible. Feeling hot and tired, but not wanting to miss out anything on our ‘must see’ list, we arrived at St Peter’s late one afternoon. Having waited in a long queue winding its way around the piazza outside, we finally made it inside the Basilica.

The church was bustling with tourists, and my friends made a beeline for Michelangelo’s Pieta – another item to tick off our checklist. Being rather footsore, I wandered off in search of a quiet place to rest and have a moment of quiet contemplation and found myself facing the Chair of St. Peter altar, above which was the most amazing golden stained glass window of a dove through which the sunlight was pouring.

I was deeply moved by the beautiful simplicity of the window, situated above Bernini’s incredibly ornate altar, and the wonderful warmth and light which radiated from it onto the visiting tourists below. The contrast between the different aspects of the altar was particularly striking – the marble and jasper base, the gilded bronze throne encasing the ancient wooden chair of St Peter, the huge bronze figures surrounding it, the host of gilded angels and billowing stucco clouds and, above all the elaborate decoration, the window of Bohemian glass with its gentle depiction of the Holy Spirit as a dove.

It reminded me of how easy it can be to lose sight of God in the midst of all the complex interactions of our everyday lives, and how overly complicated our faith can sometimes become. Sometimes it is important for us to look past all the symbolism and details, and take a moment to rediscover the peace and simplicity of just resting in the light of the Holy Spirit.

Angie Poppitt


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