Windows of Trinity Cathedral
Historic Trinity Episcopal Cathedral is located in downtown Columbia, South Carolina, across from the State House on the block bounded by Sumter, Gervais, Marion, and Senate streets. This church, a fine example of Gothic Revival architecture with its twin towers reminiscent of the Cathedral of St. Peter (“York Minster”) in York, England, was designed by Charleston architect Edward Brickell White (1806-82) and consecrated on November 26, 1847.
Nestled among several huge live oaks, magnolias, dogwoods, and large Lebanon cedars, Trinity, now in the hustle and bustle of a growing city, remains just as it was many years ago—a place of peace and tranquility. Famous American historian Charles A. Beard (1874-1948), with his wife and co-historian Mary Ritter Beard (1876-1958), spent parts of many winters and springs in the old Columbia Hotel on Gervais Street across from the Trinity graveyard. “I have found a beautiful spot,” Beard wrote, “Trinity Episcopal churchyard, one of the most beautiful places in Columbia. A world of peace and love that knows no hatred, turmoil, or strife; where one is at peace with God and the world.”
As lovely as Trinity appears in its almost pastoral setting, its exterior in no way suggests the breathtaking beauty and elegance of its interior—a medieval world of columns and arches, hammerbeam roof, marble altar, and stained glass windows. It is a world that provokes a feeling of deep reverence. This is a special place—a holy place—devoted to the service of religion. The great love Trinity’s parishioners have always had for this, their place of worship, can be seen in its every detail, and most especially in its stained glass windows.
Since much has already been written about the history, the architecture, the outstanding clergy, the many contributions of Trinity and her people to the city and to the state, this text will focus on its exquisite stained-glass windows. Visitors from all over the world compliment them, but none, perhaps, more graphically than a young middle-school student who dashed in about closing time one day. Just inside the nave, he suddenly stopped, took one wide-eyed look, and said, “Wow.“
These windows, all memorials, attest to the generosity of many people. For these people and for their gifts, we will be forever grateful.
This text would be impossible without the pioneering work of Sara Justice Hempley, whose book appears in our bibliography but whose words and research appear throughout this catalogue. To her service to Trinity we dedicate these notes.
N.B.: To be consistent with the language of the windows, we throughout quote the King James Version of the Bible.
Technical terms used in the text are given at the Glossary at the end of the text.