St. Bridget: Narthex & Chapels

Seattle, Washington

Artist Citation Award
Texas Society of Architects/American Institute of Architects

Architect: Bassetti Architects, Seattle; Don Brubeck, AIA

Reconciliation Chapel
25.3' w. by 15.0' h. overall

St. Bridget Window
4.3' w. by 4.5' h.

Main Entry Doors: St. Bridget's Cloak
4 at 2.0' w. by 6.5' h. each, and 1 at 1.3' w. by 6.5' h.

Blessed Sacrament Chapel: St. Bridget & the Bejeweled Sword
12.3' w. by 7.8' h.


Over thirty years after its completion soon after Vatican II, as part of its first major renovation, St. Bridget finally got her stained glass. The new stained glass was created in two phases. Phase I includes the Entry Area Windows from which St. Bridget welcomes worshipers and relates stories about her life. Phase II fills the Sanctuary with stained glass that enframes the Altar and crowns the Nave with reminders of God and his gifts.

St. Bridget’s Welcome: Phase I’s Entry Area Windows welcome all to St. Bridget’s church. These windows include the Reconciliation Chapel, the Narthex and the Main Entry Doors. The lantern-like Reconciliation Chapel Windows beckon worships from afar. They include a woven straw St. Bridget’s Cross and tongues of flame of the Holy Spirit which are central elements in the life of St. Bridget. White and dichroic glass enliven all the windows at St. Bridget windows even when seen from outside during the day. This common thread of white and dichroic glass symbolizes the presence of God. Denser white glass in the lower areas of the Reconciliation Chapel Windows insure privacy and visual separation. Three expansive tongues of flame flow down and across the chapel and continue into the adjacent St. Bridget Window leading worshipers toward the main entrance. Within these flames the green glass is the first hint of St. Bridget’s Cloak. The three flames of the Holy Spirit are common to the traditional iconography of St. Bridget.

The St. Bridget Window extends the namesake saint’s personal welcome and the sense of identity. The the tongues of flame from the chapel windows here blow St.Bridget’s cloak across the entry door windows between Narthex from Nave. In the story of St. Bridget, her cloak was said to heal and restore those who touched it with the power of the Holy Spirit. It symbolically caresses worshipers as they enter and again when they leave. Rich, textured transparent color and gauzy opals impart the illusion of separation while allowing ample vision through for the safe passage of worshipers. The cloak imagery not only provides a strong sense of entry into the Nave, but its connotations of Holy Spirit make it a rich, intimate backdrop for the Baptistry and Pool just beyond. St. Bridget’s Cloak reappears in the lower Sanctuary’s Nave Windows and Blessed Sacrament Chapel Window as another unifying thread of the stained glass experience.

Although technically not part of the entry sequence of windows, the Blessed Sacrament Chapel’s St. Bridget and the Bejeweled Sword relates the story of Bridget’s first act of charity wherein she removed jewels from her Father’s ceremonial sword to feed and clothe the poor. As symbols of God’s ultimate gift, eucharistic bread and grapes, are poignant reminders of our call to give even as we receive. The use of Austrian lead-crystal prisms in this window symbolizing God’s gifts (and our gifts to the less fortunate) carried over into the Sanctuary Windows of the second phase.

Go to “St. Bridget Catholic Church: Nave & Clerestory Windows”

OTHERS COMMENT:

Jeff Smith designed the stained glass for St. Bridget Catholic Church here in Seattle. He worked with a church committee of which I was a part, helping us develop a theme related to our parish mission and identity, something that would “tell the story” of who we are to our current parishioners as well as to the next generations. The glass work is outstanding, as visitors are constantly telling us. The church is filled with a brilliant light, and the variety of the textures and colors are striking without being distracting. Small prisms splash tiny rainbows throughout the church, and especially lift the spirit on sunny Sunday mornings. It’s simply masterful! I will always feel proud for my part in helping create this legacy for future parishioners, and grateful to Jeff for his creativity and artistry.

Deacon Denny Duffell, Pastoral Associate, St. Bridget Parish, Seattle, Washington

I wanted to write and tell you how beautiful your artwork is at St. Bridget Church.  Every time I go to mass, I find myself looking at all the amazing panels and noticing new, interesting details.  What an amazing artist you are and what a great gift you have given us.  Thank you very much.

Jeanette Whiting, Parishioner, St. Bridget Parish, Seattle, WA

I went to St. Bridget last evening near sunset while the choir practiced, to enjoy the glass at that time of day. The design and the light it casts and the dynamic effects it gives to the space are wonderful.  The church needs some more improvements, but now it finally feels like a sacred space, connected to creation in the way I hoped it would be.  THANK YOU!

. . . St Bridget’s stained glass is still one of my very top favorites for both the artwork and the process of working with you.

Don Brubeck, Project Architect for St. Bridget Church, Bassetti Architects, Seattle, WA

 


Materials: German, French & Domestic Mouthblown Glass; Domestic Machine- and Hand-rolled Glass; Dichroic Glass; Austrian Lead-Crystal Prisms; Lead; Solder. Doors installed between tempered, protective glazing.