How Many Symbols Can You Identify?
January 21, 2010
The stained glass window located in the National Heritage Museum’s lobby, pictured here, is one of the treasures of the collection. Installed shortly before the Museum opened in 1975, it conveys the vision of not only its artist, but also of the Museum’s founders, linking Freemasonry and patriotism as a contribution to the bicentennial of American independence.
Crafted by noted stained glass artist Dr. Rudolph R. Sandon (1916-1992), of Painesville, Ohio, the window was a gift to the Museum in 1975 from the Scottish Rite Valley of Danville, Illinois. Measuring approximately 12 feet high by 16 feet wide, it includes 1,800 pounds of glass (which is one inch thick) and 600 pounds of sand mixed with epoxy.
The window is divided into twelve sections, each with specially selected Masonic and American symbols. For example, at the top left, the first letter of the Greek alphabet, alpha, is paired with a 13-star American flag. Alpha symbolizes “the beginning” and the 13-star flag represents the beginning of the United States of America. Another section shows the Masonic square and compasses with the letter G in the center, which is one of the most commonly used symbols. The square and compasses symbolize reason and faith, while the G is understood to represent geometry (specialized knowledge required for stonemasons, which reflects the traditions that inspired Freemasonry as we know it today) and/or the Great Architect of the Universe, a non-denominational phrase for God that is frequently used in Freemasonry.
The stained glass window is featured on the Museum’s website where we recently unveiled an interactive version. Found on the Masonic History Resources Portal, you can mouse over the symbols to learn what they mean.
Masonic stained glass window, 1975 Dr. Rudolph R. Sandon (1916-1992), Painesville, Ohio, National Heritage Museum collection, gift of the Scottish Rite Valley of Danville, Illinois, 74.11. Photograph by David Bohl.