Monday, July 17, 2023

St. Michael? Or St. George?

The primary figure in this next armorial stained glass panel in the Stained Glass Museum in Ely Cathedral is identified as St. Michael.* But the arms and banner he is carrying are more commonly known as the arms of St. George: Argent a cross gules. (Of course, these same arms can be used to identify England -- both standing alone and as, for example, the chief of the East India Company, or the arms of the City of London -- and Genoa, and several other places, all of which bear Argent a cross gules. So these arms are clearly not restricted to St. George.)

So this stained glass panel of St. Michael was designed by Arthur Anselm Orr in 1926, and comes from Rockley Chapel, Marlborough, Wiltshire.

It was created as a memorial for the Marlborough area soldiers who died in WWI. At the base of the window, the battlefields of the Great War are shown in tones of gray.

It is a beautiful, if somber, work of the stained glass painters art.

* Most of the images of St. Michael that I can find, while they have him bearing a shield with a cross (which is sometimes painted as Argent a cross gules), almost invariably show him with feathered wings. And often, just like St. George, he is shown slaying a dragon. See, e.g., the page of arms showing St. Michael on them on the Heraldry of the World site at So all in all, I am more inclined to believe that the figure here is patron saint of England, St. George, rather than St. Michael. But I am not Mr. Orr, and if he wants to say that this is St. Michael, who am I to say him nay?

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