Stormy stained glass window gives ‘hope’ to islanders

A stained glass window depicting men rowing to save people from a shipwreck, will be dedicated on the Isles of Scilly next month.

The window is one of two in the tiny parish church of St Agnes, which tie in local life and biblical text.

In the latest window, two teams of gig rowers are heading out over choppy waters to rescue people from a ship going down on the horizon. It bears the text from Isaiah, ‘When you pass through the waters I will be with you.’

Stained glass artist, Oriel Hicks, who lives on the main island of St Mary’s, has included the faces of local people as the rowers.

She said,  ‘I want people to be inspired and uplifted by this window. St Agnes is my favourite island. This is my favourite church. And the image includes two of my sons. Doing this is the highpoint of my achievements.’

The window was commissioned by the islands’ chaplain, Canon Paul Miller, when the frames of the old church began to rot and needed replacing.

‘We decided to do something positive, not just put in new frames,’ he said.

‘Holidays are an important time for spiritual renewal,’ he added. ‘People are more up for that when they are away from home.

‘So we wanted to create a sense of prayerfulness with the windows.

‘We wanted to help people to engage with what the islands teach us and link that to what the Bible tells us.’

He’s clear about what he hopes people will take away from these windows. ‘Your life is a stained glass window,’ he says. ‘In your darkest moments, the light of Christ will embrace you. That’s what we’re trying to say.

‘And in the new window we are trying to bring the idea of hope to people in extreme difficulty.

‘It brings the context of the Bible to life,’ he said. ‘And I’m not sure how good we are at doing that in daily life.

‘Jesus spoke a lot in parables and I’m sure that if he had lived here, a lot of those parables would have been about gig racing.’

The gig rowers’ window is the latest in a line of stained glass windows created by Oriel Hicks for the islands’ churches. They all link together local life and biblical texts. 

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