In this stained glass scene, we see depicted St John’s great vision of the Woman of the Apocalypse. As described in Revelation 12:1-6, she is seen in heaven, clothed with the sun, standing on the moon and with a crown of twelve stars on her head. The Church has always interpreted this passage to refer at least in part to the Virgin Mary. This is because Revelation describes the Woman as giving birth to a male child who would rule the nations – in other words, the mother of the Christ child.
The Woman and her Son are threatened in the vision by a great red dragon with seven heads, who is identified later in the chapter as the Devil, the “ancient serpent”. This links the vision with God’s original promise in Genesis 3:15 of a Woman and Son who would eventually overcome the serpent. In this way, the Bible both begins and ends with the story of a Woman and Son who would bring salvation. St John – who saw the vision – is shown seated, writing the book of Revelation while on the island of Patmos. The window dates to 1889 and is the work of the stained glass studio Lavers & Westlake.
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Where to find this work of art
St John the Evangelist, Gravesend
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