I have a great appreciation for stained glass windows. Among my earliest memories is a large stained glass window on the stair landing in my grandmother's house. The window featured a peacock with his tail at full display. The colors would take on various hues, depending on the position of the sun, at any given time of the day.

My wife and I have a stained glass panel above our front door which came to us in a round-about way. A large Victorian home with a wrap-around porch once stood on the eastern side of Pecan Avenue in Philadelphia. The house was demolished about 30 years ago, and I had wondered what became of the stained glass panels which were above and as sidelights surrounding the front door. On a visit to Pensacola, Florida, I found the answer.

While my present home was under construction, my wife and I spent some time with a friend in Pensacola. We mentioned that we were looking for a stained glass panel to install above our front door. Our friend said, "There is an antique dealer here who carries a large assortment of stained glass, and I will take you to his shop." We looked through his stock of stained glass and decided to purchase an over-the-door panel composed of bright red lilies and some iris blossoms.

After the purchase was completed, just as an afterthought, I asked the dealer if he knew the origin of the panel. "Well," he said, "I bought it from a dealer in Why Not, Mississippi, and he told me it came from a house in Philadelphia, Mississippi." Surely, this is a panel from the home I had witnessed being torn down on Pecan Avenue.

Stained glass windows were very much in vogue during the latter part of the 19th century and the early years of the 20th century. Houses were often built with turrets, dormer windows, extended porches, and wide interior stairs to a second floor. A stained glass window could usually be found at some location in the home.

Stained glass windows gained great popularity after the 1893 World's Fair in Chicago. A craftsman named Louis Comfort Tiffany exhibited his work in stained glass at the Fair, and it was not only applauded by art critics but caught the eye of the general public.

Today the Tiffany creations are considered extremely valuable. Churches often cover their Tiffany windows with great sheets of clear protective glass and insure them heavily. Stained glass windows continue to be installed in churches of more recent construction.

When the new Baptist church was built in Union, the congregation installed one of the largest stained glass windows in this area. The window depicts the broken veil of the temple that is mentioned at the crucifixion in the 45th verse of the 23rd chapter of the Gospel of Luke. "And the sun was darkened, and the veil of the temple was rent in the midst."

Some of the most restful windows in a church are in the United Methodist church in Lake, Mississippi. These windows are predominately green and are arranged in a beautiful design although they do not contain a picture.

When I had an opportunity to visit the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris, I was most impressed by the great rose window. This stained glass window is brilliant with the sun behind it and takes up most of the space in the cathedral wall opposite the altar.

Rose windows can be found in many churches in Europe and also in the United States. They range from huge creations to small but beautiful rose windows like the exquisite window in the United Methodist church in Decatur.

There are two stained glass windows at the head of the stairs in the Mississippi State Capitol in Jackson. These windows are attributed to Louis Comfort Tiffany and are considered excellent examples of work in stained glass. Although the windows contain human figures, no one is certain who or what they represent.

Stained glass was once found in many public buildings. When the White House in Washington was undergoing one of its many renovations in 1882, Louis Comfort Tiffany was employed to design a stained glass screen to divide the entrance from the main east-west hallway. This screen remained in place until the Theodore Roosevelt Administration (1901-1909) when another renovation took place and the screen was removed.

Although not as popular as they were, there continues to be a demand for stained glass windows, and often times the windows from an old home that is being demolished are more valuable than the lumber in the entire house. There are also glass studios in major cities which create beautiful contemporary pieces.

There is something about stained glass that appeals to the human spirit. If you happen to have a stained glass window in your church or home, enjoy it and consider the creative effort that went into its construction.