St. Augustine Windows
Conversion in the Garden
This site will give you a tour of the windows in the St. Thomas of Villanova Church at Villanova University. If you don't know much about St. Augustine, you might want to start with the San Gimignano fresco tour, which gives a fuller picture of his life. For more information on St. Augustine and the Augustinians, visit St. Augustine's MySpace page (created by the Augustinian order) or the Mission and Heritage page at Villanova University.
Unfortunately, the photo of the very first scene is somewhat darker than the ones that follow, so you'll need to look carefully. Here we see St. Augustine's conversion. In 386, Augustine was in a garden under a fig tree, experiencing an intense spiritual struggle. Suddenly he heard children singing "tolle lege, tolle lege," the Latin words for "pick up and read" (8.11.29). (You can see the words written just above the head of Augustine). Inspired by their singing, Augustine picked up a book of St. Paul's letters and opened to a page at random and read a passage from Romans 13. This passage provided the answer to the questions with which he was wrestling and finally he was converted to Christianity. If you scroll down to the bottom part of the window, you'll see the open book indicating the verse. In the image, a good angel seems to be hovering above Augustine, while a demonic figure seems to be leaving. These figures may be symbolic of Augustine's inner struggle: as the demonic figure leaves him, the good one takes its place. Compare Gozzoli's treatment of this incident in the corresponding fresco.
|Conversion||Baptism||Vision||Death||Writing Confessions||Pelagianism||Sea Shell||Giving the Rule|
Images are from the stained glass windows of St. Thomas of Villanova Church, produced by Aurora Imaging Company. Quotations from St. Augustine's Confessions, translated by Maria Boulding, O.S.B., (Hyde Park, New York: New City Press) 1997. Author: John Immerwahr. May 31, 2008.