Kessler Studios Architectural Stained Glass and Mosaics

SG16-St Francis Chapel

St. Francis Chapel

Cincinnati, Ohio


Winner of an American Institute of Architects Design Art Award

Size: 4 windows, 12' tall x 3' wide each.

This window was designed as a part of an overall renovation of an existing chapel space. Besides a complete reworking of the interior, the client wanted to soften the harsh western light and disguise an undesirable urban view. Working with The Canticle Of The Sun, by St. Francis of Assisi as a thematic guide, the Kesslers created a contemporary work that not only acknowledged his writings, but allowed for a bright interior.

The design is both an abstract interpretation of St. Francis' Canticle, as well as symbolic of the men dedicated to his teachings. While the colors and lines do represent specific elements, the abstract presentation allows the viewer to freely create his own vision of the work. Indeed, it is the Kessler's hope that the work will inspire many alternate interpretations.


This detail of one of the windows shows the use of various types of glasses and widths of lead came. Each window incorporates symbolic references to St. Francis' The Canticle Of The Sun.

The windows all have elements that are described in the Canticle:

  • Sir Brother Sun is represented by the outer circular lines at the top of each window. The yellow glass helps form the circle and then flows down to the Earth as light. 
  • Sister Moon and Mother Earth are depicted by the overlapping center circle motif within the yellow of the sun. Sister Moon is the clear portion, and Mother Earth is the brown. 
  • Brother Wind, represented by both the wispy white glass and flowing lead lines, swirling from heaven to earth. 
  • Sister Water is the blue glass, falling from the sky as rain and accumulating on earth in the life-giving forms of rivers, lakes, and oceans. 
  • Brother Fire is represented in the red glass, integrated into the sun motif because it is the light of night. 
  • Sister Bodily Death is portrayed by the wide, straight lead lines. As horizontal lines below, they portray the inevitability of death. As vertical lines rising up and flowing into and beyond the sun motif, they represent the promise of salvation. 

The Order of Saint Francis is represented by two elements, the brown glass and the thick, curving lead lines. The brown symbolizes the traditional garb worn by the Brothers, and the lead line represents the cord worn around their waist. Both are intimately woven into the other symbols of the Canticle.