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Bay 36 - Theirry's Grisaille / Life of St Apollinaris / The Celestial Hierarchy
(All images © Dr Stuart Whatling, 2011)
01 - Grisaille quarrels and tituli identifying the saints in panel 04 02 - Inscription recording Canon Theirry's donation 03 - Grisaille quarrels and tituli identifying the saints in panel 06 04 - Saints Quiricus (Cyr) and Julitte, St Maur, St Radigonde 05 - Canon Guillaume Theirry kneeling before the Virgin and Child 06 - St Sulpice, St Mathurin de Laurchant, St Lifart slaying the dragon 07 - Healing of the blind son of the judge Thaurus (?) 08 - Apollinaris meeting the Tribune of Ravenna 09 - Apollinaris heals the Tribune's wife 10 - Apollinaris going into (or returning from) exile 11 - Baptism of the Tribune of Ravenna and his household 12 - Apollinaris cures the maid possessed by 'an unclean spirit' 13 - Apollinaris enters the house of Rufus Patricius, Duke of Ravenna 14 - The Provost orders Apollinaris to sacrifice to the pagan gods 15 - Through prayer, Apollinaris restores Rufus's daughter to life 16 - In prison, Apollinaris is visited by an angel ? 17 - In response to Apollinaris's prayers, a temple of Jupiter collapses (1/2) 18 - The Provost and other witnesses to the destruction of the temple (2/2) 19 - The funeral of Apollinaris 20 - The outraged pagans beat Apollinaris to death 21 - Mourners from Ravenna's Christian community 22 - Celestial Hierarchy I - Angels 23 - Celestial Hierarchy II - Archangels 24 - Celestial Hierarchy III - Principals 25 - Celestial Hierarchy IV - Powers 26 - Celestial Hierarchy V - Virtues 27 - Celestial Hierarchy VI - Dominions 28 - Celestial Hierarchy VII - Thrones 29 - Celestial Hierarchy VIII - Cherubim 30 - Celestial Hierarchy IX - Seraphim 31 - Angel adoring Christ 32 - Angel adoring Christ 33 - Christ in Majesty
The Grisaille panels of Canon Guillaume Theirry
01 - Grisaille quarrels and tituli identifying the saints in panel 04
02 - Inscription recording Canon Theirry's donation
03 - Grisaille quarrels and tituli identifying the saints in panel 06
04 - Saints Quiricus (Cyr) and his mother, St Julitte, St Maur, St Radigonde
05 - Canon Guillaume Theirry kneeling before the Virgin and Child
06 - St Sulpice, St Mathurin de Laurchant, St Lifart slaying the dragon

The Life of Saint Apollinaris
07 - Healing of the blind son of the judge Thaurus (?)
08 - Apollinaris meeting the Tribune of Ravenna
09 - Apollinaris heals the Tribune's wife
11 - Baptism of the Tribune of Ravenna and his household
10 - Apollinaris going into (or returning from) exile
12 - Apollinaris cures the maid possessed by 'an unclean spirit'
13 - Apollinaris enters the house of Rufus Patricius, Duke of Ravenna
15 - Through prayer, Apollinaris restores Rufus's daughter to life
14 - The Provost orders Apollinaris to sacrifice to the pagan gods
16 - In prison, Apollinaris is visited by an angel ?
17 - In response to Apollinaris's prayers, a temple of Jupiter collapses (1/2)
18 - The Provost and other witnesses to the destruction of the temple (2/2)
20 - The outraged pagans beat Apollinaris to death
19 - The funeral of Apollinaris
21 - Mourners from Ravenna's Christian community

The Celestial Hierarchy
22 - Celestial Hierarchy I - Angels
23 - Celestial Hierarchy II - Archangels
24 - Celestial Hierarchy III - Principals
25 - Celestial Hierarchy IV - Powers
26 - Celestial Hierarchy V - Virtues
27 - Celestial Hierarchy VI - Dominions
28 - Celestial Hierarchy VII - Thrones
29 - Celestial Hierarchy VIII - Cherubim
30 - Celestial Hierarchy IX - Seraphim

33 - Christ in Majesty
31 - Angel adoring Christ
32 - Angel adoring Christ

Overview:
Something of a mongrel, this window would originally have comprised two main sections - the lower half dedicated to the life of St Apollinaris (or Apollinaire), the first Bishop of Ravenna, the upper half containing a (possibly) unique stained glass depiction of the Celestial Hierarchy of Pseudo-Dionysius. Then, in 1328, one Canon Guillaume Theirry paid for an altar to be installed in this bay, or on one of the adjacent columns. He had the lowest register of this window replaced with a set of panels, painted in the latest style, depicting the altar's titular saints in delicate grisaille, and commemorating forever his act of generosity in a lengthy inscription. It is impossible to know for certain what the now missing panels may once have contained but we may be allowed an educated guess or two. The available space would perfectly match a wide border along the bottom, like the one surrounding the rest of the window, plus a register of exactly the same pattern as the row containing panels 13, 14, 15. The space now occupied by panel 05 would probably have contained the only notable event in the Vita of St Apollinaris prior to his arrival in Ravenna - namely St Peter in Rome giving him his mission (always a crucial scene for saints who were claimed to be part of the direct Apostolic succession). That would leave the two bottom quadrants for signature panels.

The upper half of the window contains a representation of the Celestial Hierarchy, based on the eponymous book by the 6th century Syrian Christian mystic known as Pseudo Dionysius the Areopagite. This taxonomic schema is a most unusual topic for a lancet window - certainly I know of no other examples from the period. The text outlines nine different choirs of divine beings, from Angels to Seraphim, in ascending order of their closeness to God. As part of his mystical theology of light, Pseudo Dionysius describes how each level can only perceive directly the level immediately above itself and is incapable of direct experience of the divine light, as are we. Nevertheless, he argues, we can transcend these limitations to some extent by the spiritual exercise known as anagogy, in which the subject's perception can rise beyond the earthly through contemplation of the manifestation of the divine in earthly things (theophany). The work was translated into Latin by Eriugena in the 9th century and was relatively well known in the 12th century. Abbot Suger of St Denis, Hugh of St Victoire and and Theirry of Chartres (no relation to the donor of this window's later additions) all wrote about its influence. Nevertheless it remains a relatively rare piece of iconography outside manuscript illumination, with just this one window and two examples in portal sculpture - one of them situated very close to this window in the south portal at Chartres.

Quite why this window should have been divided into two halves at all is also unclear. The medallion pattern is consistent throughout, so it was presumably always planned this way. The designers at Chartres were perfectly adept at stretching out the visual vitae of far more obscure saints than Apollinaris to occupy as many panels as required - and they were scarecely short of openings into which to fit their stories. Nor am I aware of any reason for linking St Apollinaris with the Celestial Hierarchy (St Denis would have made a far more obvious choice, given his standard conflation with Pseudo Dionysius), though it is possible that some quirk of the Chartrain liturgy or some other local circumstance gave rise to an association now lost.