A Swedenborgian congregation, the New Church Society of Glendale, Ohio, commissioned these windows as a gift to a sister church in Cincinnati, the Church of the New Jerusalem, in memory of Charles and Mary Allen.
The denomination’s national newsletter, the New Church Messenger, reported in January 1903 that the “Glendale parish has made a gift of the seven chancel windows designed by Tiffany representing the Angels of the Seven Churches, originally installed in the Church of the New Jerusalem, Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1902.” Tiffany’s portraits of the seven messengers of God that convey Revelation’s central affirmation of redemption, are especially significant to Swedenborgians who see in the seven angels diverse perspectives of spiritual understanding and seven stages of individual spiritual growth potential. Depicted in glass enamels, the angels’ faces are imbued with the grace and sanctity intended to offer moral guidance, each fully prepared to intimately connect the viewer to their universal creator.
When the church was taken by the state of Ohio under eminent domain, and torn down for highway construction in 1964, these beautiful windows were crated and later purchased for the Swedenborgian Church at Temenos by generous donors from across the United States. For almost 40 years, the boxed eight-foot-tall windows were stored in parishioners’ garages and basements in Ohio, finally traveling in a U-Haul trailer to the Swedenborgian Church at Temenos in West Chester, Pennsylvania, and resting there in a barn until 2001. Although the newly arrived minister had been informed by the retiring minister that there were ‘stained glass windows in the barn’, when Rev. Susannah Currie and other church members opened the boxes in 2001 they were stunned. She called upon stained-glass expert Arthur Femenella, who recognized Tiffany’s opalescent glass, design, and technique through decades of grime, to provide an estimate for restoration. In 2004, with the impetus of the donation of $50,000 by a single anonymous donor, restoration of the angel windows began. The individual efforts of Swedenborgians past and present, as well as the skillful talents of Art Femenella and his stained glass artisans, have preserved these sacred tableaus for the appreciation of future generations. Although Tiffany’s ‘Partial list of windows’ and church archives had previously confirmed the attribution of the windows to Tiffany, cleaning of the last window in the series revealed the signature of Tiffany studios.