Window Reflections: The Visitation

Written by Dave Rempel

Sixteen stained glass windows adorn the sides of the worship space at Ascension. Inspiration for the windows was taken from the fact that in Europe long ago, the faithful would learn the Bible from stories depicted in windows. It was intended that Ascension’s windows could be similarly educational. What follows is a meditation on one of the 16 windows. Look for additional reflections in future editions of the Bulletin or on this Parish Blog.

The Visitation

When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby stirred in her womb.  Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and cried out . . . “Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb.”  (Luke 1:40-42)

In this depiction of the mystery, the placement of Mary’s hands suggests to me that she is greeting not only Elizabeth, but also John the Baptist – who returned that greeting by leaping in Elizabeth’s womb.  I also like the look of pure joy and satisfaction on the face of Elizabeth. 

I cannot help, however, but think about the scene’s third figure, Zechariah, whose story mirrored Mary’s in so many ways – he was an unlikely candidate to be a parent; he experienced his own annunciation involving Gabriel, who told him not to be afraid; he asked how it could be that he would have a child; and he eventually delivered a canticle praising God.  The difference was that Zechariah did not believe the message, and thus was rendered mute until after John’s birth.  Elizabeth herself noted that difference, telling Mary, “Blessed are you who believed.”  Thus, I am encouraged to be more like Mary than like Zechariah, in having faith in God and in trusting His message. 

Finally, a note about the flowers – the purple blooms beneath Mary’s feet are likely periwinkle, which was sometimes called the “virgin flower” and was often used with Mary in Christian art.

The Feast of the Visitation is celebrated on May 31.