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Proto-feminist stained glass windows in Vermont?

Proto-feminist stained glass windows in Vermont?

A Vermont news site, looking at stained glass windows in a former girls’ school owned by the Episcopal Dioceses of Vermont, wonders if they weren’t meant to foster an early kind of feminist empowerment.

rock point 1Unusually for the pre-women’s suffrage era, females are the main characters in the New Testament scenes depicted on each window. Also notably, the windows are dedicated only to Hopkins’ wife and his four daughters, even though the couple had nine sons.

“There weren’t many places at that time focused on females’ education,” notes C.J. Spirito, current director of Rock Point School — the coed descendant of the institution founded in 1888. “The scenes in the windows are in support of the effort to put women to the fore.”

It isn’t clear who commissioned the window’s at Hopkins Hall or who made them, but there is speculation that windows and the school itself were expressions of Bishop John Henry Hopkins’ progressive ideas.   Hopkins was the first bishop of Vermont, but it seems clear that he, himself, did not commission the windows.

The dedications inscribed in Gothic lettering at the bottoms of the windows hint at a manufacturing date. The triptych above the chapel’s altar, with the infant Jesus and his mother Mary dominating the center panel, includes the epigraph, “In Memory of Melusina, Wife of Bishop Hopkins.” John Henry Hopkins (1792-1868), the first bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Vermont, was married to Melusina Muller, who died in 1884, according to The couple had 13 children, four of whom are memorialized on the other windows. One of them honors the memory of Caroline Amelia, the couple’s fourth daughter, who died in 1907.

So the windows must have been installed after that date. Bishop Hopkins himself could not have commissioned the stained glass, having died 20 years before the construction of the building.



images by Kevin J. Kelley at Seven DaysVT


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Philip B. Spivey

The Bible is a Rorschach of the human soul: Christians, of all stripes, find meanings that accurately mirror their own hearts.

Michael Hartney

Hymn 293 (Hymnal 1982), “I sing a song of the saints of God”, was not included in the Draft hymnal volume considered by the General Convention of 1982 in New Orleans. It was one of the hymns added by amendment by a member of the House of Deputies.

Anne Bay

I will be interested in looking up the book of carols. “We Three Kings”and “I Sing a Song” are two of my favourite hymns. “I Sing A Song” is one of the best hymns for children’s choirs ever written in my opinion. He was a busy guy (13 children to boot). I’ll be interested to read about this family. The Bible defense for slavery was actually very common-no surprise there. A very learned clergyman once told me, the Bible is used to prove almost anything and everything-!

John Chilton

His son was also ordained, but not a bishop.,_Jr.
“He delivered the eulogy at the funeral of President Ulysses S Grant in 1885”

“He wrote words and music to his most famous hymn, “We Three Kings”, as part of a Christmas pageant for his nieces and nephews. It is suggested to have been written in 1857 but did not appear in print until his Carols, Hymns and Songs in 1863.[2] His nephew, John Henry Hopkins III, is credited with the music for “I Sing a Song of the Saints of God”, a popular children’s hymn in the Episcopal Church.”

“John Henry Hopkins Jr. was a clergyman, author, book illustrator, stained glass window designer. “

John Chilton

Progressive views??????
“In 1861, a pamphlet titled A Scriptural, Ecclesiastical, and Historical View of Slavery written by Bishop Hopkins attempted to justify slavery based on the New Testament, and gave a clear insight into the Episcopal Church’s involvement in slavery.”,_Ecclesiastical,_and_Historical_View_of_Slavery
“A Scriptural, Ecclesiastical, and Historical View of Slavery was a pamphlet written in 1861 by John Henry Hopkins, and addressed to the Reverend Alonzo Potter of Pennsylvania.

The pamphlet claimed that the Bible did not forbid slavery, and although some might find it reprehensible, it cannot be deemed a sin. Hopkins concedes that slavery could be deemed a “physical evil” but the strongly opposes the idea that it is a “moral evil”, saying “I condemn the institution of Slavery … But as a Christian I am compelled to submit my weak and erring intellect to the almighty”. Hopkins also uses his claim on a political basis, arguing that the Civil War was started by “ultra abolitionists”, who preached against the word of God and turned the Union against the South.”

See also,

Paul Powers

It’s sadly possible to be progressive on gender issues and retrogressive on race issues (and vice versa).

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