Calvary Episcopal Church

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

How awesome is this place...

This is the title of the articles that are printed in our Sunday bulletin, and spotlights architectural features of Calvary Episcopal Church. We have reprinted many of them here for you, along with the date of printing.

Photos shown are from Calvary's stained glass windows. Photographs by Kenneth Stiles.

Epiphany is a festival older than Christmas, beginning in the 3rd century in the Eastern Church. It commemorated Jesus' appearance to the shepherds and to the three kings or magi, His baptism in the Jordan, and the first miracle at Cana, where He changed water into wine. The Roman Catholic Church adopted both the observance and the date, 6 January, in about the 4th century. 1.7.01

Two of the least noticed stone statues in Calvary are those of St. Peter and St. Paul on the west wall of the Narthex. St. Peter is gazing down upon those who enter from the Walnut Street doors, holding keys in his left hand and giving a blessing with his upheld right hand. This finely carved statue was executed by the J. Franklin Whitman Co. of Philadelphia. On January 18 we will celebrate the Confession of St. Peter the Apostle. Simon Peter was the first among the apostles to confess Jesus as the Messiah.

Although it was Peter who attempted to walk on the sea but began to sink, although it was Peter who impulsively wished to build three tabernacles on the mountain, and although it was Peter who denied knowing the Lord three times, it was to him that the Lord said "You are Peter, and on this rock I will build my Church, and I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven." (Matt: 16). 1.14.01

This Thursday's feast day celebrates the conversion of St. Paul the Apostle, arguably the Church's first great missionary and theologian. Born just 13 years after Jesus in the Asia Minor center of Tarsus, he never met the man whose followers he systematically persecuted until his conversion on his way from Jerusalem to Damascus. He gave sparse description of it in his epistles, mainly that he saw the risen Lord, and was commissioned to "preach him among the Gentiles." "The man who formerly persecuted us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy."

The more familiar story of being asked by Jesus, "Why do you persecute me?" comes from Acts. There, on the roadside, he falls to the ground and is blind when he rises. It is through the disciple Ananias, told in a dream to go to him, that his sight is returned and he is baptized. Described in a late 2nd century apocryphal book as "a man of small stature, with bald head and crooked legs, with eyebrows meeting and nose somewhat hooked," Paul is shown throughout Calvary and most places as a commanding figure with symbols of militant evangelism and resurrection, or preaching, as in the All Saints' Chapel window, preaching to the citizens of Athens on Mars Hill. 1.21.01

By tradition, some parishes observe Theological Education Sunday on the Sunday closest to the immovable Feast of the Conversion of Saint Paul (January 25). For the worshipping community, theological education in a liturgical setting comes from sermons or homilies. The Pulpit is the site for sermon and homily delivery. Calvary Church's Pulpit, located on the Gospel side of the Sanctuary, is an elaboration of the rood screen. From the rood screen that separates the Nave from Choir, Chancel and Sanctuary, the Pulpit thrusts itself out as a site of Word proclamation. Just as the Gospel is proclaimed from the rood into the Nave, so the preached Word as sermon or homily is brought forth to the people.

The intricate carving on Calvary's Pulpit base contains figures of great preachers of righteousness of the Old Testament (Jeremiah, Zechariah, Hosea, Exekiel and Habakkuk), representing the foundations of Christianity above them are figures of some of the great preachers of the Christian Church: St. John Chrysostom, St. Francis of Assisi, St. Bernard of Clairvaux, Bishop Anselm, St. Athanasius and Savonarola. The heraldic coats of arms ringing the upper rank of the Pulpit include a stylized adaptation of the Great Seal of the United States, followed by shields of the Dioceses of Pennsylvania (Erie, Pennsylvania, Pittsburgh, and Harrisburg, now Central). Some details of these diocesan shields have been modified since the carvings were executed. 1.28.01

February 14th is famous for Valentine's Day, but the Eastern Church celebrates the missionary brothers Ss. Cyril and Methodius. Born 826 and 815 respectively to a noble Greek/Slavic family in Thessalonica, Cyril [Constantinople until just before his death] was a scholar as well as a deacon; Methodius, a civil official and later a monk.

The Prince of Moravia in 863 asked the Byzantine Emperor for missionaries to the Slavs there. Tradition says that Cyril developed a script for Slavic languages before their trip named Glagolithic, the pre-curser of the Cyrillic of today. Once there, he began translating the liturgy (and later the bulk of the Bible) into Slavonic. The debate over Latin or vernacular worship, as well as German church and political power in the region, came to a head when the brothers brought their Slav candidates for the priesthood to Rome. The Pope sided with the brothers, probably for regional influence. Their own influence is reflected in their veneration to this day by nearly every branch of the Orthodox Church, many of them in Slavonic-language services.

Cyril never returned home, remaining in Rome where, after taking on monastic robes, he died on February 14, 869. Methodius continued missionary work, eventually becoming bishop of an ancient see governing Serbo-Croatia, Slovene and Moravian territory. He died on April 6, 884. 2.11.01

As we contemplate the renovation of our Parish House, it is instructive to look at the original design of Calvary by the architect, Ralph Adams Cram. The Parish House we know today has been significantly changed, including three additions: the Choir House, now the Refectory, in 1925; a smaller addition in 1951, which included the space now used by the Rector for his office; and the larger Parish Hall in 1975. This Parish Hall stands where there used to be a courtyard, formed a Parish House on the north, the worship space on the south, and the connecting hallway and offices just off the Morning Chapel.

Cram marked the entrance to the Parish House with a three-story tower at the back of the courtyard, hard to see today because today's Parish Hall blocks the view. At the base of the tower was a porch, open on two sides. Today, a table with church literature is located in this former porch area, and one of the stained glass windows originally in the hallway has been moved here.

Entering from the porch, one could be greeted by the church secretary in the office straight ahead, or take the central stairway up to the Sunday School rooms or down to the Boys Club. At the top of the tower was the Rector's study (now the McIlvaine Room), where he could both study and write in quiet isolation, yet survey the comings and goings in the courtyard below. 2-18-01

Yesterday was the day appointed to honor St. Matthias, the twelfth Apostle, who was chosen by lot to replace Judas Iscariot. At Calvary he is depicted in the first north clerestory window in the nave. He is shown with a closed book and halberd, the axe with which he was beheaded. Dice refer to his method of selection. 2.25.01

The South Transept window is a history of the early Christian Church in the British Isles. In the center lancet below St. George is seated St. David of Wales, dressed in Celtic robes. He lived circa 520 to 588. The custom at that time was to celebrate the day of the saint's death, 1 March. It is still celebrated today in Wales.

St. David was of high birth, well educated, highly respected and influential throughout Southern Wales. He was Abbot of the Monastery of Mynyew or Menevia. His order was very strict. The monks did the work of pulling the plows, and David was given the name "David the water drinker," (no liquor allowed). It is said he founded as many as 53 churches in South Wales, where a cathedral stands today bearing his name. 3.4.01

One of the hidden gems here at Calvary is the stained glass of the tower lantern windows, by Charles Connick and installed in 1922. Four windows face each direction, as follows: to the South, the four friendly saints; to the East, the four archangels; to the North, the four militant saints; and to the West, the four wise saintly leaders, the fourth of which is St. Gregory the Great. Living from 540 to 604, he was Bishop of Rome before becoming one of the early popes, his insistence of the primacy of his former role helping to establish the papal system.

Among his accomplishments were reforming the calendar and the liturgy, establishing choir schools and collecting and editing what we know as Gregorian Chant. He also banished slavery, encouraged priestly celibacy, strengthened monasticism, and sent missionaries to the lapsing Anglo-Saxons of England.

He has many attributes, most commonly a bishop's staff, but including a book and quill, and a dove (representing the Holy Spirit that inspired his writing and teachings)-all used in this window; Also used are a church, for the ones he established, and a sheet of music, for his efforts in that area. His saint's day is tomorrow. 3.11.01

St. PatrickSt. Patrick is a popular saint and Calvary is not without its own image of him.

Yes, he is dressed in green and was chosen to be one of the 21 figures in the South Transept window specifically because he is the patron saint of Ireland. The window is dedicated to the saints, martyrs, and missionaries from the first ten centuries of the British Isles. St Patrick, (c. 389 c.461) is high at the top of the left lancet. So high in fact that he is hard to appreciate, so we have reproduced his image here.

The building he is holding in his left hand represents his work to establish the Christian Church in Ireland-he was a church builder. There are a handful of shamrocks in his right hand along with his staff, a crosier, reminding us he was a bishop. At his feet is a lamb.

St Patrick is properly venerated for his triumph over Paganism and gathering Ireland into the fold of Christ. When England fell under the Saxon conquest, St. Patrick's work kept Christianity alive in the British Isles. Look for him and admire him is his lofty position in this window. 3.18.01

According to the liturgical calendar, Sunday, March 25 is dedicated to "The Annunciation of Our Lord Jesus Christ to the Blessed Virgin Mary."

At Calvary, the Annunciation is dramatically portrayed in the "Annunciation" window located in the Morning Chapel. The window has four lancets. Each window depicts one who is mentioned in the Annunciation story as found in Luke. 1:2638.

Saint Elizabeth and her young son, John, are in the first lancet on the left. The next lancet is a brilliant rendition of Gabriel holding four white lilies, a symbol for Mary.

The third lancet depicts a profile of Mary kneeling in front of an altar reading about the coming of Christ. The last window on the right depicts Saint Ann, Mary's mother. She is standing behind Mary and her hands are resting on Mary's shoulders.

In all four lancets, there are many Christian symbols, and the people are portrayed wearing rich silk or velvet robes trimmed with colorful braiding. The daytime light brilliantly radiates through the window, and it is like a beacon in the otherwise dark, somber chapel. 3.25.01

As Calvary moves toward renovations to the Parish House, it is interesting to look at how the church's architect, Ralph Adams Cram, planned for the building to be used. It was primarily for Christian education. The choir had no separate practice room, only a robing room, or Choir Sacristy, on the first floor hallway leading to the Morning Chapel. At the Church's request, Cram designed an addition for the Choir House in 1925. When the Choir House became the Refectory in 1974, the choir moved to the large room on the upper floor of the Parish House.

Originally, this large upper floor was designed as a Sunday School room with two smaller classrooms at one end. Curtains could be drawn between the supporting columns to create four more classrooms around the larger central room. More interesting is that this room could double as an auditorium. At the Shady Avenue end was a raised platform for a stage with a front that curved out into the room, and a proscenium arch above. At the opposite end of the room was a balcony and gallery with six raised levels for seating. The balcony can still be seen today in what is now known as McClintic Hall. Below the balcony was the Ladies Guild Room, with a lovely fireplace. The classroom/auditorium has served many purposes over the years and has been the site of many wonderful programs. 4.1.01

St. Mark is one of the four evangelists who survived Jesus' crucifixion. He authored the first of the Synoptic gospels in which he wrote down accurately and in extremely vivid style what he had heard and remembered of Christ's life.

Mark, whose feast-day the Church keeps on April 25, is well represented here at Calvary. To each of the evangelists a symbol has been assigned. St. Mark's symbol, a winged lion, appears in three places in the church: In the tracery above the windows in the Lady Chapel, in the Caen stone at the base of the Baptismal Font in the Baptistry and again on the face of the stone High Altar in the Chancel.

To see Mark in face and figure -- not solely as a symbol -- look on Calvary's main facade facing Shady Avenue. The statue of Mark along with the three other evangelists appears there along with the symbols assigned to them. 4.22.01

The chancel window portrays the story of the passion and resurrection of Christ, the latter depicted in the top row of three medallions. The scriptural inscriptions on the medallions are shown here in italics. The medallion on the left shows the Guarded Tomb, sealed and guarded by Roman soldiers, but with an angel rising from a kneeling position to open it: O death, where is thy sting. I Cor. 15:55. The medallion on the right shows the Empty Tomb with angels and Mary Magdalene: He is not here, He is risen. Matthew 28:6. The central medallion shows the Conqueror of the Grave, Christ as a crowned king, with sword in one hand and a scroll in the other: I am the resurrection and the life. John 11:25.

The three rows of smaller Old Testament medallions interposed between the four rows of New Testament medallions depict God's first covenant with mankind, now replaced by the new covenant through Christ. From the top row of small medallions down, and from left to right, they depict (1)the return of the dove to Noah's ark; (2)Moses receiving the law; (3)the mercy seat, the cover of the ark of the covenant, the throne of God, the place of atonement; (4)Abraham preparing to sacrifice Isaac; (5)the serpent lifted up in the wilderness; (6)Passover; (7)Daniel in the den of the lions with bound mouths; (8)the selling of Joseph; and (9)the scapegoat bearing away the sins of the Israelites.

Installed in 1907, this window was among the first of those of the second, or "pure" Gothic revival movement, moving from muted secondary to vivid primary colors. Though bold in designing the window, architect Ralph Adams Cram and stained-glass artist William Willet became fearful of an overwhelming effect as morning light poured through it. To soften it, they had intermediate layers of gray glass installed. Not until the 1983 restoration of the window was most of this intermediate glass replaced so that the full glory of the original intent might shine forth. 4.15.01 Easter Sunday

Christian symbolism in stained glass, sculpture and illustration helps to distinguish between otherwise anonymous looking figures but, taken together to tell a portion of the persons story. This Tuesday is the feast day of Apostles St. James the great and St. Philip. Little is known about most of the apostles after the ascension and nothing of the ultimate fate of more than two or three. Philip is known to have been a fisherman and is best remembered for asking how Jesus was gong to feed the multitude basket of bread shown with him in Nave Clesestory window 4, along with fish sometimes, commemorates this saint. While not singled out he appears in the medallions of the Last Supper and garden of Gesthemane in the central lancet of the chancel window. Just below in the high alter reredos he is shown with the symbols of the staff surmounted with a cross for his successful missionary work. Since no positive record exists of his martyrdom, at least one lesson in symbols a vertical spear for his dying by that instrument and a dragon. He reportedly banished a dragon with a cross, this being the object of their cult worship, the priests of the temple of Ares seized him and crucified him upside down. He is also sometimes confused with the later Philip the Deacon famous for travel to Ethiopia. 4.29.01

Because Calvary employs the traditional siting of High Altar to the east, and the foot of the cross that is its worship space almost due west, the beauty of its west window is best revealed in the afternoon. Located above the gallery and flanked by soaring organ pipes, this Revelation Window was designed and made by Heaton, Butler and Bayne of London. It illustrates scenes from the Book of Revelation and is rich with reference and reverence. 5.06.01

The disciples are depicted in the center lancet of the twelve clerestory windows high in the nave. Three different stained glass studios made these windows. The work of all three is represented on the Walnut Street side. Connick made two of them and is known for his strong use of blue. An English firm from London made two, and the studio of Reynolds, Francis and Rohnstock from Boston made two of these windows, but only these two, for the church. Listen to what the owner Joseph Reynolds wrote to the church just after his visit at their installation in 1924:

"Personally I was very much pleased with the windows. The color tone of the English clerestory windows on that side of the nave is grey green, and that of the Connick window(s) is cold and blue. As ours are warm and golden in tone it seems to me that they make a very pleasing contrast with the others. When the sun is shining full and strong upon them they may seem a little "new looking", but after they have been in place for a season and the outside of the glass becomes dirty they will be toned down." 5.13.01

St. Dunstan (c. 909-988), whose feast day was 19 May, is one of the early English saints depicted in the South Transept window. Living in an England fragmented into small competing kingdoms, Dunstan dedicated his life to the Church. Beginning as a monk at Glastobury Abbey, he became its abbot at an early age. A reformer, he insisted on strict observance of the Benedictine Rule, which was not the norm in war-ravaged Wessex, Mercia and Northumberland.

Dunstan is credited with restoring monastic life from near extinction and bringing needed reforms to the Church. He was made a Bishop of Worcester and London, becoming Archbishop of Canterbury in 960. He zealouslyn supported the cause of learning, and achieved fame as musician, illuminator and metalworker. Obviously, the "Renaissance Man" of centuries hence was a Johnny-come-lately. 5.20.01

The Church Calendar honors two saints featured in our South Transept window today.

The Venerable BedeThe Venerable Bede (above, left) (673-735) was a Northumbrian monk at the monasteries at Jarrow and Wearmouth. He was a Biblical scholar and the father of English History. Bede was buried at Jarrow, but about 1022 the sacrist from Durham Cathedral stole his bones after winning the trust of the Jarrow monks. The Bede's resulting shrine at Durham was a famous pilgrimage site. Bede is shown robed as a monk, carrying a quill pen and a book.

St. Augustine of CanterburySt. Augustine of Canterbury (above, right) (d. 612) was a missionary from Rome to England. He was sent by Pope Gregory the Great to refound the Church in England in the mistaken belief that Britain was pagen. The first Archbishop of Canterbury, his attempt to mold the Celtic Church to Roman ways was a failure. In the south transept window he is shown dressed in the rich robes of a Roman abbott and carries a Bible. 5.27.01

St. James the Lesser, depicted as a young man with a dark beard, appears high in the nave clerestory windows along with the other eleven apostles. He is on the south side, second on the right as one enters from the Narthex. Three short fuller's clubs are shown on the shield below his feet to identify him. Along with a book to symbolize his epistle, he is holding yet another fuller's club, but this one is nearly as tall as he is! So, what is a fuller's club and why is it his attribute?

Fulling is the process of shrinking and thickening wool to finish the cloth. A fuller would use either a short or long club to compact the material by beating it.

After Christ's ascension the apostles scattered, but St. James stayed in Palestine and became the first bishop of Jerusalem. Thirty years later, the Pharisees and scribes demanded that James denounce Jesus' teachings, but James was steadfast. They threw him to the floor and stoned him, but he arose and is reported to have said, "I pray you, Lord, forgive them, for they know not what they do." One man then snatched up a fuller's club, aimed a heavy blow at James's head, splitting his skull. The fuller's club became a reference to his martyrdom. 9.23.01

In honor of our Patronal Festival, try to find all ten places St. Michael the Archangel is shown in stone, wood, glass or cloth at Calvary. (An 11th is in progress.) The hardest to find is outside the sanctuary: the War Memorial Cross of 1918. Michael is absent but his sword has slain the dragon as the Celtic cross symbolizes the triumph of good over evil in World War I. This type of cross, used by the earliest Celtic Christians, has a circle representing Eternity centered on the familiar shape. 9.30.01

On October 4 we celebrated the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi and yesterday held the Blessing of the Animals. Legends abound of St. Francis' works among the poor and his ability to tame animals. He is depicted in the cushions in the All Saints Chapel holding flowers, with the wolf he is said to have tamed, and the rabbit that followed close behind him. Rejecting the wealthy life of his parents, he donned simple shepherds cloths and traveled barefoot. This is how we see him in the wooden statue in the All Saints Chapel. It is easy to find him, the middle statue on the right, the one with the song birds. The statue is exquisitely carved, even the bones on the back of his hand are visible. Look at his face; it reflects the humble nature which characterized his life. 10.7.01

On October 18, the world-wide Anglican communion celebrates the feast of St. Luke, the evangelist known as the "beloved physician." Generally, he is symbolized as the winged ox; the ox was a physician. His symbol is depicted in the Annunciation window in the Lady Chapel and on the face of the Caen stone baptismal font in the baptistry. He is also depicted on the carved stone High Altar of the chancel and in the stone carving on the Shady Avenue exterior. His symbol can also be seen on an acolytes' needlepoint cushion. 10.14.01

Calvary Church's main depictions of Saint Simon and Jude, whose red letter day was yesterday, are located with the rest of the apostles in the twelve Nave Clerestory windows. Calvary's architect, Ralph Adams Cram, used a uniform design for each window, in which one of the twelve apostles would be shown in the center lancet with geometric patterns in the flanking lancets. Saint Jude, located on the southside window (closest to Walnut Street) of the Nave Clerestory, was done by the C.J. Connick studio of Boston in 1925. He is shown as a young man holding his traditional symbols, a lance and a ship, which represents his missionary travels. The Saint Jude window was restored in 1998. Saint Simon, the fifth window along the northside Nave Clerestory (second from Walnut Street), was also done by the Connick studio. He is represented as an old man: bald, with round head and white beard. He is shown holding a saw, the instrument of his martyrdom. 10.28.01 rev.

Calvary's All Saints Chapel is located on the east wall of the South transept. It was not always called All Saints. It was named "The Chapel of St. Andrew" when Calvary was built, but this was changed in the mid 1920s. After World War II it was described as "The South Transept Chapel" in the official guide book. In recent history as All Saints, it was little used until the renovations of the church in 1991.

The salient features of the renovated chapel are the stone altar, with the two carved angels, the wooden reredos with the seven carved figures, two stained glass windows, the needlework on the chairs and kneelers, and the newer "tongues of fire" wooden enclosure. 11.4.01

Today, November 11, used to be called Armistice Day in England, in commemoration of the truce which ended the Great War in 1918. It is now called Remembrance Day or Veterans Day in recognition of those who died in all the terrible wars of the century. At Calvary the War Memorial Cross, designed by Cram himself, commemorated "those from Calvary Parish who served in the Great War," but after the Second World War, which resulted in a loss to this parish of twenty-six lives, nothing less than the dedication of a new Memorial Baptistery was deemed appropriate. The baptismal font was moved from the All Saints Chapel to its own square space at the rear of the Lady Chapel, and there the north wall was inscribed with the names of the 493 Calvary parishioners who served, and "with the names of the honored dead lettered in gold."

This Memorial Baptistery links those who served in the war with those of "every rising generation" to be baptized into the service of Christ, a connection made explicit in the words of the traditional Baptismal Office, "to continue Christ's faithful soldier and servant unto his life's end." The inscriptions at the top of the Memorial, "Confess the faith of Christ" and "Manfully fight under His banner," also from that Office, address both the soldiers and the newly baptized. And the figure of our own soldier-saint, the Archangel Michael, appears at the center of the wall together with the words, "May they succour and defend us," from the St. Michael's Day Collect. Finally the vines and grapes on either side of the golden names symbolize the eternal joining together of the soldiers' blood with that of Christ crucified. This Memorial Baptistery was dedicated to the Glory of God on November 7, 1949. 11.11.01

Read the self-guided tour brochure here.

Photographs of the interior of Calvary Church are available here.

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315 Shady Avenue at Walnut Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15206-4388
Phone: 412.661.0120
Fax: 412.661.6077