The Tallest Stained-Glass Windows in the World

Stained glass in Heinz Chapel

That is the claim made for the transept windows in Heinz Chapel, and old Pa Pitt accepts it until someone proves otherwise. They were created by the studio of Charles Z. Connick.

The windows trace Christian history down from Christ to American heroes like Abraham Lincoln, shown here freeing slaves with his Emancipation Proclamation.

Father Pitt’s very favorite detail in these windows is in the Lincoln pane. In fact it is one of his favorite details in any stained glass anywhere. You probably won’t even notice it as you look at the heroic figure of Lincoln, but here it is:

This scowling cartoon-villain plantation owner, furious that some Northern abolitionist scum has the temerity to interfere with his right to whip his own property, is the perfect background for Lincoln. One feels that the whole Civil War was worth the trouble just to make this man frown.

Stained Glass in the Shields Mausoleum, Homewood Cemetery

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Mr. Shields decided to take his favorite pinup girl with him to the grave. A stout wooden beam apparently holding up the ceiling of the mausoleum stands in the way of the view of this window; Father Pitt has therefore stitched this picture together from two separate pictures, and the seam is obvious. But the window is unusual enough that we can tolerate a substandard photograph.

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

Stained Glass in the Wittmer Mausoleum, Allegheny Cemetery

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A fine piece of glass, though the symbolism may be a bit muddled. The parting of the clouds and the heavenly radiance suggest that the dove represents the Holy Spirit; the leaf in its beak suggests Noah’s dove (Genesis 8:10-11).

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McCune Mausoleum, Allegheny Cemetery

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This extraordinarily tasteful Renaissance octagon (built in 1925) is so unusual that Father Pitt suspects it may be based on a historical model. He would be delighted if one of his readers could find the original and point it out to him. John Robison McCune III was a banker, head of one of the biggest banks in the city (Union National, which after being devoured by Integra and National City is now part of PNC).

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The interior is as elegant as the exterior. McCune took nothing of his private life with him to the grave—no Masonic or even religious symbols. His mausoleum, including the exceptionally fine window, is dedicated solely to beauty.

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