Spotlight on Pilgrim’s Progress Windows

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Spotlight on Pilgrim's Progress Windows: A Story of Grace in Glass

Pilgrim′s Progress Windows: A Story of Grace in Glass is the latest release from Geneva College′s Fern Cliffe House Publishers. Written by Dr. Shirley Kilpatrick, Professor of Humanities and English, and Dr. M. Howard Mattsson-Bozé, Professor Emeritus of History and Humanities, the book examines John Bunyan′s allegory The Pilgrim′s Progress as portrayed in Henry Lee Willet′s one-of-a-kind 18-pane stained glass window located in the Buhl Reference Center of Geneva′s McCartney Library.

Pilgrim′s Progress Windows provides Dr.Kilpatrick′s analysis of each pane of the window accompanied by the corresponding text from Bunyan′s work, as well as essays on John Bunyan and the creation of the Willet windows by both Dr. Kilpatrick and Dr. Mattsson-Bozé. To capture the striking visual beauty of the windows, an essential element in appreciating Willet′s work, the book features a center gatefold that shows the window in its entirety, as well as vivid photographs of each individual pane. Geneva′s Graphics Design Manager Kristen Miller designed the book and took the photographs, along with student photography interns Joel Shannon ′14 and Robert Jinks ′14.

Willet′s interpretation of The Pilgrim′s Progress begins in the lower left corner picturing Bunyan sitting in a jail cell recording his dream of the pilgrim Christian′s journey to the Celestial City. The panes that follow depict Christian′s encounters as he travels through the Slough of Despond, escapes the Giant Despair, climbs the Hill Difficulty, and more, eventually ending in the uppermost right-hand corner as Christian concludes his journey and reaches the Celestial City.

The new book is a companion to Dr. Kilpatrick and Dr. Mattsson-Bozé′s 2007 release, Paradise Lost Windows: A Story in Lead and Light. Paradise Lost Windows describes Willet′s window in the West Reading Room illustrating the fall of mankind as told in John Milton′s epic poem, Paradise Lost. Both of Willet′s windows in McCartney Library were inspired by Dr. Clarence Macartney′s Stone Lectures given at Princeton University in 1928. They were commissioned and designed during the Great Depression thanks to the generosity of two sisters, Miss S.J. Deal and Miss S.M. Deal, who donated the library in 1931.

Three key figures in obtaining the means to publish Paradise Lost Windows were Provost Dr. Ken Carson, Vice President of Advancement Jeff Jones and Director of Marketing Services Cheryl Johnston.

Dr. Carson remarked, "Pilgrim′s Progress Windows is another fine example of the excellent scholarly work of the Geneva faculty. Paradise Lost Windows was very well received and we felt that it was important to complete the story by publishing this companion piece."

"The Willet windows are marvelous works of art," added Johnston. "I am so pleased that Drs. Kilpatrick and Mattsson-Bozé are sharing these Geneva College treasures with the community through their books."

Jones agrees. "Every student who sets foot in the McCartney Library is a witness to the beauty and artistry of the Willet windows. This new book, along with Paradise Lost Windows, is tremendously valuable in capturing a truly unique aspect of Geneva and connecting with memories shared by all Geneva alumni."

Pilgrim′s Progress Windows: A Story of Grace in Glass is available through the Institutional Advancement Office. While the retail cost is $15, members of the Geneva community may purchase it for $10 in the IA Office, located in the lower level of Alexander Hall.