Like most anyone else who’s ever spent time on the Boston College campus, Vice Provost Patricia DeLeeuw has always had an appreciation for Bapst Library, especially its stained-glass windows in Gargan Hall.
“Having studied as a medievalist, including in medieval religious and liturgical art, it all seemed very familiar to me when I came here,” recalls DeLeeuw, who arrived at Boston College in 1979 as a newly minted Theology Department faculty member. “Universities were founded in the 13th century, at around the time Gothic architecture was first popular, and BC’s Gothic revival style — as seen in Bapst — evokes that era.”
And it is the Bapst windows, whose illustrations by Earl Edward Sanborn depict the courses in the curricula of Jesuit colleges and universities at the time Bapst was built (1925), that unfailingly capture the eye. DeLeeuw will share her insights on the windows’ artistic and spiritual character on Dec. 8 at 10:30 a.m. as part of a walking tour sponsored by the Alumni Association.
DeLeeuw says the aesthetic quality of the windows — with panes that portray the inventions of Leonardo da Vinci, the opening of Japan by Commodore Perry, and Lincoln freeing the slaves, among other things — is evident, but their relationship to education and faith also is an important facet.
“The Bapst windows are testament to the disciplines of arts and sciences and really make the library feel like a temple of learning,” says DeLeeuw, who also presented a talk on the subject during last summer’s Alumni Weekend. “But they also evoke the historical connection between the Catholic Church and learning — not just the association of God with ideas, but also the learning of good morals by the young men who attended Boston College when the windows were made as well as the young women and men who attend BC today.
“So, the message that comes across is, a place of learning is where God is found.”
Admission for “The Stained Glass Windows of Boston College: Finding God in All Things” is $10. Registration is available via the Alumni Association events calendar at www.bc.edu/content/bc/alumni/events/all_events.html.
— Sean Smith