I spent several hours trying to figure out who this was. My sister Bevin came with me one day to church, to help decipher the clerestory windows, and she had several things to say about the other little bits of symbolism in the windows. The book and scroll in the Temple window. The clover by Jesus' feet. What angels are what. And when she said something about angel, I said, oh, you have to see this angel in the stairwell. Because I don't know who it is.
I figured it was more than just cherubim, seraphim, etc. I thought for sure this was one of the named angels--Raphael, Gabriel, Michael (I know there are others, like Uriel, but I figured if we had a window of a specific angel, it was going to be one of those first three--also, is Uriel even mentioned by name anywhere? I know where the other three appear). Anyway, before I get into a debate over canonical books, Raphael shows up with fish, Michael of course has his flaming sword, and Gabriel is shown with a trumpet, a lily, a scroll.
This guy has a scroll. He has a lily. What the heck is he doing, though? Rehearsing? Bevin and I went back out into the main part of church to look at the window depicting the Annunciation (Coming Soon!). Not the same guy. Not the same room. Not the same scroll.
Could it be Gabriel? It might be. But to have him alone in a stairwell (although he is quite near St. Cecilia), away from the purpose he is best known for, seems terribly unlike the windows in our church. They are steeped in meaning. Dripping with symbol and (literally) illumination. I just can't say this is Gabriel. It doesn't make sense to me.
This is also the window in the most trouble at Pius. Our church sits right on Grand, between Gravois and Arsenal, in a neighborhood that has definitely fluxuated over time. The fact that our windows have survived this long--ninety years so far--without being ragged and broken and marred is a miracle. This little stairwell window, with all its lovely detail, is the one in most need of repair. That sunlight you can see above his halo--it's sunlight. There is a gap, the window bends away from the leading. Now, the outside is perfectly safe from the elements (plexiglas), and really, few people come this way any longer. But it's on my short list of things that need attention, the next time it comes up in a meeting. Now that I know where our windows are from and how we came about them, I can't see this one like this and think that's ok.
That's sort of the old Pius way of thinking. But today on the house tour, amusing as it is to someone who's cleaned that floor, someone commented to the bus tram driver that "you know, that church is almost a hundred years old. And it's so clean." We've been pulling up our shoulders and brushing off the dust for a couple of months now. But there's a bit of mending that needs to happen here, still.