The West Window and its remarkable women.
Stained glass windows are a feature of the Cathedral. They help to tell the Christian story and explain key beliefs, stories and messages central to Christian belief and practice.
Bradford is known for its ‘remarkable women and the Cathedral’s windows feature many women. The West Window depicts women from both the Old and New Testament sections of the Bible.
The window was commissioned and funded by a Bradford solicitor whose name was ‘Wells’, he donated it in memory of his sisters.
At the top of the window are two sections of small glass panels two rows of small female figures from Old and New Testaments.
- Alpha – the beginning
- Lily leaves, acorns
- Elizabeth with scroll
- John red, green, purple
- Virgin Mary with lily
- Mary of Bethany with jar
- Martha with cap, plate, keys
- Lily leaves, acorns
- Omega – the end
- Leaf motifs.
- Eve, with cloak, Sarah with stick
- Miriam with musical instrument
- Hannah with clasped hands
- Ruth, back view, carrying brown bag
- Naomi with white cloth
- Esther with scroll, crown
- Joanna in prayer
- Anna in prayer
- Dorcas with tray.
The main window is divided into five pictures taken from the New Testament – four ‘quarters’ of the window and one central.
The four main quarters are:
Top left: This shows Angel Gabriel greeting the Virgin Mary:
‘Fear not Mary for thou hast found favour with God.’ (Luke 1:30).
Above Mary in this window, you can see the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove. There are three lilies: one in a Pot marked M, one held by Gabriel, one held by Mary. These are often called Madonna lilies. The word Madonna is a title of respect for Mary the mother of Jesus. The lilies are a symbol of the Madonna.
Top right: In this window Mary Magdalene is greeted by Jesus, the Risen Christ,. You can see other The women weeping in the background, but Mary seeing Jesus, believes him to be the gardener, and asks where he has taken the Jesus’ body. In the Bible it says that Jesus greets Mary by name and says:
‘Touch me not, for I am not yet ascended to my Father.’ (John 20:17)
Lower left: This depicts Jesus with the sisters, Mary and Martha of Bethany. Martha is serving food and drink, Mary sits and listens. Martha complains, but Jesus says:
‘Mary has chosen that good part that shall not be taken away from her’ (Luke 10:42)
Lower right: This window shows Jesus speaking with a woman at a well. The woman is a Samaritan, Jews and Samaritan’s did not usually speak to each other; it was also unusual for a man to speak to a woman that he didn’t know. Jesus says to the woman:
‘Whosoever shall drink of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst.’(John 4:14)
‘Then, leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the people, “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Messiah?”. ‘ John 4:28/29
Centre: The angels are telling the women the news that Jesus is risen on Easter morning in this window. Between the feathers of the angels’ wings, the morning star can be seen – a symbol of the Risen Christ. They say to the women:
‘He is not here, He is risen.’ (Matthew 28:5).
The two small windows below the centre panel, show two angels.