Exploring the History and Purpose of Church Stained Glass

historical church stained glass

Today, stained glass is a common architectural feature that can be found in various types of buildings throughout Salt Lake City. In hotels and restaurants, stained glass is often used to create interesting light fixtures or lampshade covers. And in homes in Salt Lake City, stained glass is used to provide privacy. However, the place where stained glass appears in the highest prevalence is churches and religious architecture.

Religious Stained Glass Restoration Guide



The use of church stained glass can be dated back thousands of years to Ancient Egyptian times. Since its early beginnings, stained glass has evolved greatly as art form. Regardless, even through all the changes that have occurred over the years in architecture and design, stained glass still remains a popular part of modern churches and religious architecture. Understanding the history of church stained glass and its purpose can help explain how it has retained its popularity over time and why many churches find it so valuable and important.

The Beginnings of Stained Glass

Stained glass found its beginnings as an art form in Ancient Egypt. Egyptians found that when they wound melted glass around a piece of clay, they could create glass with a hollow center that could be used for pottery or jewelry.

colored glass egyptian

Later on, the Romans began to include glass in buildings to create windows with glass panes. Many of these early works were lacking in uniformity or had noticeable imperfections. However, though those these early works are far from perfect, they gave rise to a whole new art form and therefore are considered to be extremely precious and valuable.

The Appearance of Stained Glass in Religious Settings

However, one of the oldest examples of religious stained glass is a collection of colored glass pieces found at a monastery in Jarrow, England. It’s believed that this monastery was founded in 686 AD.

The oldest fully intact stained glass windows are believed to belong to Augsburg Cathedral. Their origins are still rather a mystery since the skill employed in the windows appears to have been produced by a practiced hand. However, there are no earlier works by the same artisans that can be found.

In the year 1930, a collection of glass fragments was uncovered by an archaeologist in Ravenna, Italy. The glass fragments combined create a window that was painted with grisaille and depicts the portrait of Christ.

Stained glass windows became a common feature in many churches across Europe, including Rome, Italy, France, Germany. During this time, the use of colored glass also grew in prominence in other regions of the world, including Asia and Africa.

However, the examples of stained glass that perhaps most people are familiar with are Romanesque stained glass windows and stained glass used in Gothic styled churches. One of the most notable examples are the stained glass windows in Chartres Cathedral.

When Jamestown was established in America, glass making was one of the first industries that was put into motion. In this way, stained glass became an important part of American culture and architecture. Today, many churches in Salt Lake City continue to honor tradition by incorporating stained glass into sanctuaries, prayer rooms, chapels, and more.

Learn More about Church Stained Glass in Salt Lake City

Bring the timeless beauty and elegance of stained glass to your Salt Lake City church. Call Scottish Stained Glass today to get a quote or receive more information!

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