Heaven in Stone and Glass

Buy it now

Front Cover for Heaven in Stone and Glass

Heaven in Stone and Glass

Experiencing the Spirituality of the Great Cathedrals

Like a mystical tome waiting to be deciphered, gothic cathedrals hold many secrets about Christ, the Christian life, and the soul's yearning for God. This book gloriously unfolds the stories of light and darkness, and the labyrinth of life.

Barron teaches us how to understand the language of the great cathedrals, exploring the effects of elements such as rose windows, cruciformity, gargoyles, and vertical space. Whether you are preparing for a pilgrimage to York Minster cathedral in England or Notre Dame in Paris or looking ahead to bedside reflection on sacred space, this book is the perfect guide.

Reviews and endorsements

"Barron, a priest and professor at Mundelein Seminary, has produced a deeply personal and deeply engaging guide to the experience of the medieval or medieval-style cathedral. His is not a scholarly treatment but rather a kind of staged walk around the cathedral with the reader, drawing spiritual sustenance from the features of the building: stillness from the Rose Window, sense of the inhabited cosmos from the tympana, and so forth. Barron's treatment is direct and even vulnerable but not naive: he acknowledges the painful ambiguities of the presence of Jewish prophets in the cathedral's sculptures and makes reference to figures as au courant as John Lennon and Alasdair Macintyre. A charming and appealing volume; highly recommended."
Library Journal


"Barron’s mission is much the same as John Drury’s in Painting the Word: to open a window on the symbolism of Christian art. Whereas Drury aimed to enrich appreciation of paintings, Barron unveils the symbolism of those triumphs of the art of Christendom, the Gothic cathedrals. Exemplifying primarily from Notre-Dame de Paris and Chartres, he discusses 14 features of a cathedral, including space, light, and orientation (e.g., the verticality of every major line in the building), as well as tangible features, such as the rose windows and the labyrinth on the floor at Chartres. Besides what a feature symbolizes—for instance, the cathedral’s interior space represents the womb of Our Lady, a place of safety and comfort—Barron explains the doctrinal rationale and implications of the feature’s significance. He does the latter so literately and congenially that the little book makes fine devotional as well as informational reading."

Paperback / 128 pages