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The Macnab Window

THIS WINDOW in the North-West corner of the Nave is the work of Wm. Wilson, R.S.A., of Edinburgh. It depicts St Nicholas and St Christopher.

St Nicholas is shown as a Bishop, in robes of blue, with Mitre and Crozier, and holding in his right hand a ship. He is considered by tradition to be the Patron Saint of sailors and travellers. Born in Asia Minor in the fourth century, he early dedicated his life to God. During a voyage to the Holy Land, when his vessel was nearly wrecked by heavy seas, St Nicholas rebuked the waves and they subsided. He is also regarded as the original Santa Claus who is so much loved by all children. He is said to have restored to life three children who had died, and, on account of this miracle, he has been adopted as their protector and Patron Saint. In the decorative scheme for the window, the artist has emphasised this association between St Nicholas and Santa Claus by introducing behind the head of the Saint a fir tree with lighted candles, surmounted by a star. The feast day of St Nicholas falls on December 6th.

St Christopher--whose name means "the Christ Bearer" - was reputed to be a man of great strength who wanted to serve the most powerful king in the world. The first king he served was afraid at the mention of Satan's name, so Christopher

sought to serve the Devil. But the Devil showed fear at the Sign of the Cross, so Christopher left Satan in order to serve Christ. In the course of his travels he met a Hermit who sent him to a river and told him to help people to cross the flooded stream. One night as Christopher slept, a small child called to him and asked to be carried over the river. Christopher lifted the Child, and, uprooting a tree for a staff, entered the water. The Child became heavier on his shoulders and it was with great difficulty that Christopher reached the far bank. The story says he asked the Child: "Who art thou that hath placed me in such peril? Had I borne the whole world upon my shoulders

the burden had 'not been heavier." To this the Child answered : Christopher, do not be surprised, for thou hast not only borne all the World upon thee, but thou hast borne Him that created the World. I am Jesus Christ the King." The figure of St Christopher is robed in green and purplish pink and the Christ Child is shown in vivid red. To symbolise this part of the story, the Divine Orb is shown at the top of the panel. Christopher, like St Nicholas, is also known as the Patron Saint of Travellers.

Beneath the foaming deep blue waters which join the figures of the two Saints are two small child Angels, and the inscription: "To the Glory of God and in memory of Eliza Jane Macnab."


From the a publication by the Society of Friends of St John's Kirk

Illustrated Notes on the Stained Glass Windows and the Mediaeval Silver of the Kirk - published in 1956

- with additional photography by Andrew Mitchell -

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