The East window of Sunderland Minster was designed by D M Grant 1950 (replacing one destroyed by enemy action in World War II).
The window contains the words of the Apostles’ Creed. Only two phrases have been omitted – “He descended into hell” and “To judge both the quick and the dead”. Pictorial representations link the Ascended Christ, St Michael and the Mercantile Marine with references to the city of Sunderland and the Diocese of Durham.
CENTRAL PANEL (from the top)
The hand of God, representing God the Father, is surrounded by marks of the creation – the sun, moon, stars and the firmament.
From the hand flows the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove pointing to Christ in Glory, the Cross and the Tree and Water of Life. The design of the throne is based on St John’s description in the Book of Revelation.
Round the throne are the seraphim and a choir of angels while four Evangelists (coloured in blue) are represented by their personal insignia:
St. John…………. An eagle
St. Mark ………….A lion
St. Matthew …….. A winged man
St. Luke …………..A bull
The Apostles are identifiable by the items which they carry. Many of these objects are in some way connected with the manner of their deaths while others have been passed down to us through various traditions:
Left (next to centre)
St. Simon Zelotes – bald with a beard and holding a saw. He was martyred by being sawn in half longitudinally.
St. Bartholemew – a young man with a beard holding a flaying knife to show his martyrdom. Adopted by surgeons as patron.
St. Thomas – shown holding a spear with which he was pierced to death.
St. James the Less – holding a fuller’s club with which he was beaten to death
St. Philip – carries a foliated cross. An emblem of martyrdom. The cross is sometimes upside down as he was crucified head downwards.
Right (next to centre)
St. Jude – holds a club.
St. Matthias – carries a chopper which probably signifies his style of martyrdom.
St. Peter – an old man with thick hair holding keys.
St. James the Great – adopted as the patron saint of pilgrims, is shown with a shell, the pilgrim’s emblem.
St. Andrew – the patron saint of Scotland with the saltire cross depicting his martyrdom.
St. Michael (right) – The saint to whom the Minster was first dedicated, is the personification of immortal service to God. St. John tells how Michael led the heavenly host and overcame the devil and the forces of evil, represented by the dragon at his feet. He has wings and feathered armour, carries a spear and shield bearing the cross. His head is surrounded by a flaming halo.
St. Nicholas (left – pictured) – The patron saint of sailors and one time Bishop of Myra, holds a merchant ship and has a rope and anchor at his feet. His presence in the window refers to the close connection between the City of Sunderland and the shipping industry.
THE TWO COATS OF ARMS
On the left of the window is that of the Bishops of Durham, which places the Minster in its Anglican Diocese.
On the right of the window is that of the town of Sunderland. Since the charter granting city status came into being this has been modified. The new design is printed below for reference.