Last weekend I visited Saint Meinrad Archabbey1, in Saint Meinrad, Indiana, for a long weekend to relax and get some work done on BibleQuestions.info. The church at the Archabbey has numerous stained glass windows2, but there are eight windows I want to focus on, because they show examples of beatitudes. These eight stained glass windows were made by Francis X. Zettler in Munich, Germany, when the church was completed in 1908.
“Beatitudes are statements, promises, or exclamations of happiness. They begin with the word ‘Blessed,’ which can also be translated ‘happy.'”3 They contrast our earthly experiences and emotions with what God offers us by grace when we trust in Him. “These beatitudes are pronounced upon the person who is righteous, having faith and hope in God.”4 Beatitudes appear in several Old and New Testament books.
- Blessed is the one whom God corrects; so do not despise the discipline of the Almighty. (Job 5:17 NIV)
- Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. (Psalms 1:1-2 ESV)
- Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. (Psalms 32:1 ESV)
- Blessed is the man against whom the LORD counts no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit. (Psalms 32:2 ESV)
- Blessed is the one who finds wisdom, and the one who gets understanding, for the gain from her is better than gain from silver and her profit better than gold. (Proverbs 3:13-14 ESV)
- Blessed is the one who listens to me, watching daily at my gates, waiting beside my doors. For whoever finds me finds life and obtains favor from the LORD, but he who fails to find me injures himself; all who hate me love death. (Proverbs 8:34-36 ESV)
- Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” (John 20:29 ESV)
- Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin. (Romans 4:7-8 ESV)
- Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written in it, for the time is near. (Revelation 1:3 ESV)
The best known Beatitudes (Matthew 5:3-10 DRB, Matthew 5:3-10 ESV) are part of the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7 DRB, Matthew 5-7 ESV) spoken by Jesus. The stained glass windows with the Beatitudes at the Saint Meinrad Archabbey church are truly beautiful. The top panel in each window shows a significant event in the life of a Benedictine saint. The bottom portion of the window is a scene from the Old Testament or Apocrypha which represents the beatitude.
Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.5
- Saint Peter Urseolus is with the nobles of Venice as he steps into a Gondola. Peter was the duke of Venice, but in 976 decided to leave and live in a Benedictine monastery. Peter left a successful life in order to spend a life worshiping God.
- Job was considered the greatest among all the people of the east, and faithful to God. God allowed Satan to take away all of Job’s possessions and even his family. Job remained faithful to God, and God blessed him.6
Blessed are the meek: for they shall possess the land.7
Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.9
- Saint Laurence of Canterbury, the successor to Saint Augustine of Canterbury as the Archbishop of Canterbury in 608, decided to leave England because of problems caused by King Eadbald. The night before he was to leave, Saint Peter appeared to him and scourged him with a cord because of his lack of courage. Laurence showed the wounds to King Eadbald, and the King promised to reform his life and serve God.
- The Prophet Jeremiah is lamenting over the destruction of Jerusalem after being conquered by Babylon. The widow who is weeping represents Jerusalem, which is shown in the background.10
Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after justice: for they shall have their fill.11
- In 1534, Blessed Richard Whiting, Blessed Hugh Faringdon, and Blessed John Beche reluctantly signed an Act of Supremacy stating King Henry VIII was the head of the Church of England. They later recanted and swore allegiance to the Pope. These three men were arrested, and were hung, drawn and quartered.
- In the Apocryphal book of 1 Maccabees, Mattathias ben Johanan and his sons lived between the Old and New Testaments, when a pagan king ordered the Jews to worship other gods. Mattathias and his sons refused, and started the Maccabean Revolt. They freed the Jews from over a century of pagan rule in 142 BC/BCE.12
Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.13
- In the sixth century, Pope Gregory I was known for his generosity to the poor people of Rome. One day Jesus appeared among the poor to be fed.14
- The Apocryphal book of Tobias is about a Jew who risked punishment to help feed the hungry and bury the dead while they lived under Assyrian captivity. The angel Raphael protected Tobias and his family. 15
Blessed are the clean of heart: for they shall see God.16
- Saint Benedict of Nursia committed his life to God and founded the Order of Saint Benedict. When Saint Benedict died in 547, one of the monks had a vision of Benedict walking into heaven on a carpeted path.
- Joseph was sold into slavery by his brothers, but was committed to following God. Because of his ability to interpret dreams and his wisdom, he was made the second highest ruler in Egypt, only after Pharaoh. Pharaoh gave Joseph his signet ring, a robe and a chain of gold.17
Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called children of God.18
- In the 11th century, Saint John Gualbert searched for the person who had murdered his brother. When he found the man, John remembered Jesus had forgiven his own sins, and John in turn forgave the murderer.
- Abraham and his nephew Lot had conflict over land. Abraham didn’t want to quarrel, so he let Lot choose first which land to settle on.19
Blessed are they that suffer persecution for justice’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.20
- Pope Gregory VII is receiving Last Rights from the Archbishop of Salerno, Saint Alfanus I, in 1073.
- The King of Babylon, Darius the Mede, made a decree that only he could be worshiped.21 The Prophet Daniel refused to worship Darius, and was thrown into the lions den, but protected by the one true God. 22
Much of the information I used came from the book Archabbey Church Windows, published by Saint Meinrad Archabbey. I also took the self-guided tour the day I arrived at the Archabbey, and the monk-guided tour the next day. I then spent hours in the library researching the windows.
The wording of theBeatitudes on the windows, and the order the windows are in, show the versionof the Bible used is the Douay-Rheims Bible (DRB), published by the Catholic Church in 1610.23 I’ve also chosen to add links to the English Standard Version (ESV) because that’s what I am (and I expect some readers are) more familiar with. I did change some of the spellings of names to be consistent with Wikipedia, rather than use the spellings in the Saint Meinrad books.24
- Linton, Fr. Edward, O.S.B. Archabbey Church Windows (Saint Meinrad, IN: Abbey Press, 1991) (Amazon)
- R. Bavarian Art Institute. The Pictorial Paintings on Glass of S. Meinrad’s Abby Church, St. Meinrad, Ind. U.S.A. (Munich, Germany: F.X. Zettler, 1908)
- Saint Meinrad Archabbey. Inspired Light: Windows of the Church of Our Lady of Einsiedeln (Saint Meinrad, IN: Abbey Press, 2015)
- Saint Meinrad Archabbey. The Renewed Heart of Saint Meinrad: The Art and Architecture of the Archabbey Church of Our Oady of Einsiedeln (Saint Meinrad, IN: Abbey Press, 1998) (Amazon)
- Saint Meinrad Archabbey. Stained Glass Windows
- Saint Meinrad Archabbey is one of only eleven Archabbeys in the world, and one of two Archabbeys in the United States.
- “The coloured glass is crafted into stained glass windows in which small pieces of glass are arranged to form patterns or pictures, held together (traditionally) by strips of lead and supported by a rigid frame…. The term stained glass is also applied to windows in which the colours have been painted onto the glass and then fused to the glass in a kiln.” (Wikipedia Stained Glass)
- Barry, John D. (Editor). The Lexham Bible Dictionary (Lexham Press, 2016) Beatitudes. (Logos)
- Elwell, Walter A. (Editor). Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible (Baker Book House Company, 1988) Beatitudes. (Logos)
- Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 5:3 DRB, Matthew 5:3 ESV
- Job 1:1-12 DRB, Job 1:1-12 ESV; Job 42:10-16 DRB, Job 42:10-17 ESV.
- Blessed are the meek: for they shall possess the land. Matthew 5:4 DRB, Matthew 5:5 ESV The Douay-Rheims Bible (published in 1610) has Matthew 5:4 and Matthew 5:5 in reverse order, compared to several other versions I checked, such as the English Standard Version (published 2001). Compare the Douay-Rheims Bible with other versions of Matthew 5:4. I am keeping the order in which the windows are in the church.
- Numbers 12:1-15 DRB, Numbers 12:1-15 ESV.
- Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.Matthew 5:5 DRB, Matthew 5:4 ESV The Douay-Rheims Bible (published 1610) has Matthew 5:4 and Matthew 5:5 in reverse order, compared to several other versions I checked, such as the English Standard Version (published 2001). Compare the Douay-Rheims Bible with other versions of Matthew 5:5. I am keeping the order in which the windows are in the church.
- Lamentations 1:1-2 DRB, Lamentations 1:1-2 ESV.
- Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after justice: for they shall have their fill. Matthew 5:6 DRB, Matthew 5:6 ESV
- 1 Maccabees 13:41 DRB. In 1 Maccabees 13:41 “the year 170” corresponds to 142 BC/BCE. The Seleucid Empire, which ruled Israel at this time, started in what we consider 311 BC/BCE. The Seleucid era counted dates from the founding of the empire at year 1, so 170 years after 311 BC/BCE is 142 BC/BCE (inclusive).
- Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy. Matthew 5:7 DRB, Matthew 5:7 ESV
- Jesus said “as long as you did it to one of these my least brethren, you did it to me.” (Matthew 25:34-40 DRB, Matthew 25:34-40 ESV)
- Tobias 1:19-20 DRB; Tobias 12:2-3 DRB.
- Blessed are the clean of heart: for they shall see God.(Matthew 5:8 DRB, Matthew 5:8 ESV
- Genesis 41:40-42 DRB, Genesis 41:40-42 ESV.
- Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called children of God. Matthew 5:9 DRB, Matthew 5:9 ESV
- Genesis 13:8-9 DRB, Genesis 13:8-9.
- Blessed are they that suffer persecution for justice’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 5:10 DRB, Matthew 5:10 ESV
- The King was tricked into passing the law. Daniel 6:3-9 DRB, Daniel 6:3-9 ESV
- Daniel 6:20-23 DRB, Daniel 6:20-23.
- The Douay-Rheims New Testament was completed in 1582, the Old Testament volume 1 in 1609, and the Old Testament volume 2 in 1610. The complete Douay-Rheims Bible was published in 1610. The Bible has had several revisions since then as scholarship has improved, and more manuscripts have been found.
- Some of the details in the published works about these eight windows is inconsistent with what I found on Wikipedia and other web sites, but the overall information is pretty close. The minor differences in no way detract from the beauty of the windows or the stories they tell.