Stained Glass Windows

Erected in 1897, Trinity Episcopal Church was the second church built in Pocatello and the first Episcopal Church in Idaho.  In 1978, Trinity was designated an historic site under the National Register of Historic Places.  The building is classified as American (High) Victorian Gothic.  The church is built of sandstone and Red Idaho Rock quarried from the Ft. Hall Indian Reservation. 

The windows’ history is not entirely clear.  Tradition holds that they were imported from Ireland when the church was built, and the green glass in Window R is unquestionably Irish.  The windows’ background glass, however, was made in the United States.  It is possible that the glass was shipped to Europe, assembled there, and shipped back; it is also possible that only the center medallions were imported.

Wherever they were made, Trinity’s windows display a wide range of glassmaking techniques.  The hearts in the front windows (O, Q), for example, were created by blowing the glass and flattening it out into a pane of clear glass sandwiched between layers of ruby red.   Some of that red glass was then etched off to create the white flowers around each heart.

Precious metals were used to create special colors.  The yellow glass in the side-aisle medallions was made by heating silver nitrate until it seeped into the glass and changed color   The pink glass in the main altar window contains actual gold, so its price today rises and falls with the gold market.  Some medallions must have been fired more than half a dozen times to achieve just the right colors, even though the glass could have shattered during any firing.

The one window unlike the others is above the outer door in the entryway (A), which was designed in 1976 and created by stained-glass artist Jan Raymond.  Originally a symbol of the lily associated with purity and the Virgin Mary, the fleur-de-lis in this window is also a traditional symbol for the Trinity.  It echoes the fleur-de-lis in the smaller window (B) over the guest book.  Its color, green, is the traditional color used for the church’s robes and hangings during what used to be called the “Trinity” (now Pentecost) season of the church year.

As you enter the church you are facing east: the three large windows in the sanctuary, behind the altar, are oriented to the rising sun (O, P, Q).  The images in all three refer to Christ.  The cross in the center window (P)  is flowering, making it a stylized form of the tree of life, and it proclaims the resurrection of Jesus from the dead.  On the left and right sides (O, Q) are two hearts, reminding viewers of God’s love.  The heart on the left (O) is encircled by a garland of flowers and topped by a blooming bouquet reflecting a forgiving, merciful God.  The heart on the right (Q) is encircled with thorns and topped with a little cross and fire, representing the heartbreaking love of God.   The art nouveau style orange inserts at the top of each window repeat the same heart shape, while their color evokes the tongues of flame associated with the Holy Spirit.

If you walk towards the altar and turn around, you can see the Star of David in the window over the west entrance doors (D).  A blue and white Star of David would have represented the old covenant, God’s promise to the Hebrew people and the tradition into which Jesus of Nazareth was born.  The purple and gold of this star, however, represent the coming of Christ.  This window was placed where the sun sets behind it each day, as a symbol that the old covenant was fulfilled in Christ’s coming.  The star itself is surrounded by olive leaves, a traditional symbol of peace which recalls the Mediterranean world of the Old Testament.

The medallion in the middle of the window to the left of the doors (C) depicts the Chi Rho sign.  This is a traditional symbol representing Christ’s name, because “Chi” and “Rho” are the first letters of the word “Christ” (“the anointed one”), as written in Greek.  The Chi Rho was used by early Christians as a secret sign of their faith, and one tradition suggests that it might have been the symbol the Emperor Constantine placed on his army’s shields before his battle at Milvian Bridge. The medallion in the window to the right of the entrance (E) shows a harp, which evokes King David’s special talent as a harp player, singer and writer of psalms (Psalm 71:22).

As you stand at the entrance to the church, all the stained glass windows to your left have blue glass at their points.

Window F:  Depicts the bible on one side and the law of the Ten Commandments on the other.  This window could

be called the window of God’s written work. 

Window G: Depicts a censer, a pot that holds incense, on one side and the seven-branched candlestick of the

Jewish menorah on the other. These items are associated with worship as practiced in the Old Testament.  The

candlestick has been used by Christians to represent the Holy Spirit and its seven gifts: wisdom, understanding,

counsel, might, knowledge, fear of the Lord, and delight in the Lord.

Window H:  Depicts a communion wafer displayed in a ciborium (an ornamental container) on the left and a chalice

for the communion wine on the right.  This is the sacrament window; it celebrates Jesus’s institution of the holy


Window I:   Depicts the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet:  alpha and omega.   The last book of the New Testament refers to Jesus as “the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end” (Revelation 22:12).

As you stand at the entrance to the church, all the stained glass windows to your right have pink glass at their points.  As you stand at the altar facing the doors, these windows are on your left. Another five windows are in the church’s sacristy and are not usually available for viewing, although they will be described at the end of this leaflet.

Window R: Is located in the sanctuary, on the right, south-facing wall.  In it an olive branch, a horn, and a scythe are arranged triangularly.  Each is associated with the agricultural world of the Old and New Testaments. The use of three elements suggests the Trinity, which of course is the name of the parish. 

Window S:  Depicts the crown of thorns on the left and a sheaf of wheat with rake and sickle on the right.  The theme of this window is sacrifice, pain, and the suffering that Jesus endured.  The rake and sickle represent the bare stalks of grain that must be ground before the wheat can be kneaded into dough and baked.

Window T:  Contains monograms representing the name of Jesus.  On the left, IHS is the first three letters of the name “Jesus” in Greek.  On the right, the Greek letters alpha and omega are superimposed.

Window U:  Portrays Jesus as the Lamb of God who shed his blood to take away the sins of the world.  On the left, the lamb carries a banner as a symbol of the Resurrection. On the right is a cluster of grapes, the raw material for the wine which Jesus called his blood at the last supper. Grapes have also been used to symbolize the blood shed by Jesus on the cross for the forgiveness of sin and the fruitfulness of the Christian life.

Window V:  Depicts a crown and crossed keys.  The keys are the keys to heaven, which Jesus promised to his church.  The keys are arranged in the form of a St. Andrews’s cross, which is traditionally believed to have been shaped like an “X.”   

Window W: Depicts a reading lectern on the left, symbolizing the importance of reading and hearing the word of God.  On the right, a winged hourglass is set on a plank against a field of stars: it is a traditional symbol of mortality, representing the fleetness of life.

The windows in the sanctuary are not usually available for viewing; one of them (N), in fact, is now in a closed space containing organ pipes and so cannot be seen from the inside at all.  The others can be viewed by special arrangement.

Window J:     Depicts a beehive and a baptismal font. The beehive is a relatively modern symbol for the community of the church, while the baptismal font represents the believer’s entry into that community.

Window K:    Depicts the burning bush from which God spoke to Moses, telling Moses “I am who I am” (Exodus 3:13-14).  Because it symbolizes God’s choice to reveal himself, it is also associated with Jesus Christ.

Window L:     Depicts an oil lamp over crossed torches, evoking Jesus’s description of himself as “the light of the world” (John 8:12).

Window M:    Depicts an anchor and pelicans. The anchor symbolizes the Christian’s hope in Christ (Hebrews 6:19); the pelican is associated with a legend that in times of famine, the mother pelican plucks open her breast and feeds her young on her own blood. In the middle ages, the pelican was used to represent Christ's sacrifice.

Window N:      [Inaccessible]. Depicts the flowering cross.

Trinity’s windows were extensively restored between 2002 and 2004, through the generosity of innumerable contributors from the congregation and surrounding community.  In the words of the 12th century Abbot Suger, a great patron of stained-glass artistry:

Bright is the noble work; but, being
       nobly bright, the work
Should brighten the minds, so that they
               may travel, through the true lights,
To the True Light where Christ is the
       true door.

All are welcome to view our beautiful windows at our regular Sunday Worship at 10:00 a.m. or during Old Town Pocatello's First Friday Art Walk on the first Friday of every month from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m.

Trinity Episcopal Church

Pocatello, Idaho

est. 1889