The Tiffany Stained Glass of St. Francis Episcopal in Rutherfordton

All across America, small 19th century churches commissioned stained glass windows from Tiffany and Company in New York. One of those fortunate sanctuaries just happens to be near the center of the small village of Rutherfordton, North Carolina, barely twenty miles east of Lake Lure and Chimney Rock in the Blue Ridge foothills. St. Francis Episcopal Church installed two Tiffanys, along with a first rate collection of windows from other noted studios, after it was constructed in the 1880’s.

St Francis Altar Rutherfordton

St. Francis Altar Window Rutherfordton
The main altar of the small chapel features a triple window of unknown origin, depicting the Nativity.

St. Francis Tiffany Double rear

The largest Tiffany is on the rear wall of the church. The right window features the Virgin Mary with the Christ child, surrounded by white lilies, and the left window’s image is not identified yet.

St. Francis Tiffany Mary and Baby

St. Francis Tiffany glass detail
This detail from the left panel shows the sensitivity of the glass painter to the sadness in the face of the man as he cradles the body of what might be his daughter.

St. Francis Tiffany Cross window

I’ve been told that this window from the north wall is the other Tiffany. Judging from the intricate workmanship, it certainly appears to be a Tiffany.

St. Francis Rutherfordton Jesus Window

It’s possible that this window of Christ is also a Tiffany. The style matches the other windows, and has an opalescent radiance like many other Tiffany creations.

St. Francis Window Rutherfordton
This window, featuring a likeness of Saint Francis, shows some of the most detailed glass painting of any of the windows.

St. Francis Rutherfordton Elizabeth glass

St. Francis Stained Glass Elizabeth

This St. Elizabeth window, above, is truly a masterpiece of stained glass design.

St. Francis Chutch Angel stained glass 2

St. Francis Angel stained glass
This window shows the angel of the Annunciation, holding the sacred Lily, signifying purity.

St. Francis Portal Rutherfordton

This stone archway leading to a bronze statue of St. Francis of Assisi captures the solemnity of the gardens around the chapel.

St. Francis Episcopal Rutherfordton

St. Francis Episcopal Church is truly an oasis in this otherwise under publicized Piedmont town. Who would have thought that such masterpieces would be so accessible in such an out-of-the-way place. It’s well worth a visit, and the church is always open during the day.

2 thoughts on “The Tiffany Stained Glass of St. Francis Episcopal in Rutherfordton

  1. Absolutely beautiful!! How I’d love to visit this church, ever since I was very little I’ve loved looking at the stain glass windows in churches. The eyes on the Virgin Mary and the one of the father holding his daughter just draw you in, amazing work. What a special treat to have discovered this gem of a church. Love the St Francis window and the statue in the garden, but of course St Francis has always been a favorite of mine. Thanks so much for sharing

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