Or are you looking for Search the Archives?

Please complete the form to email this item.

Saint Thomas

  • Object:

    Panel

  • Place of origin:

    England (made)

  • Date:

    15th century (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Stained glass

  • Museum number:

    C.337-1937

  • Gallery location:

    Sacred Silver & Stained Glass, Room 84, The Whiteley Galleries, case BAY2

Originally, this panel was located in the upper lights (openings) of a larger window. These are known as tracery lights.

St Thomas was one of the Twelve Apostles, whom Christ appointed as his special disciples. Thomas is often referred to as ‘Doubting Thomas’, because he refused to believe the others when they told him that they had seen the Resurrected Christ. His faith was confirmed when Christ appeared and invited Thomas to touch his wounds. After the Ascension of Christ, the Apostles spread throughout the lands of the Roman empire, preaching the new faith. Tradition has long held that Thomas travelled as far as India and that he was martyred at Mylapore, near Madras (now Chennai).

The saints of the Christian church can often be identified by a device, which is known as their ‘attribute’. In this panel St Thomas holds a spear. According to the Golden Legend, an influential compilation of saints’ lives written about 1260, Thomas was in Upper India where he was trying to convert the king. He was having great success in converting the people and the royal family, but by doing so he upset the pagan high priest, who killed him with a spear or dagger.

St Thomas bears a scroll on which are written in Latin the words ‘He descended into Hell’. This is a line from the ‘Apostles’ Creed’, a statement of faith in the Christian church. It begins: ‘I believe in God the Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth’. A tradition dating back at least to the end of the 4th century states that the Twelve Apostles gathered together after the Ascension. The Holy Spirit inspired them to write the Apostles’ Creed, each contributing a line.

The Twelve Apostles often formed part of large decorative schemes in the Middle Ages. They are the backbone upon which the Christian faith spread throughout the world.

Physical description

Panel (tracery light with trefoil top). St. Thomas, standing and holding a spear. Above, a scroll inscribed DESCENDIT AD INFERNA. Blue, ruby, white and gold.

Place of Origin

England (made)

Date

15th century (made)

Artist/maker

Unknown

Materials and Techniques

Stained glass

Marks and inscriptions

Descendit ad in[ferna]
He descended into Hell

Dimensions

Height: 20 in, Width: 7.5 in

Object history note

The panel was bought from the collection of Mr. F.E. Sidney in 1937. Sidney had collected stained glass panels and had them inserted into the windows of his house in Hampstead, London.

Historical context note

This panel was originally located in the upper lights (openings) of a larger window. These are known as tracery lights.

St Thomas is one of the Twelve Apostles, appointed by Christ himself as his special disciples and given charge of the spreading of Christ's teachings after his death. Thomas is often referred to as 'Doubting Thomas' because he refused to believe the other Apostles who had seen Christ after his Resurrection. His faith was confirmed when Christ appeared to him and Thomas touched his wounds. After the death of Christ and in accordance with his instructions, the Apostles spread throughout the lands of the Roman Empire preaching the emerging new faith. Tradition has longed held that Thomas travelled as far as India and that he was martyred at Mylapore, near Madras.

The saints of the Christian church can often be identified by a device which is known as their 'attribute'. In this panel St Thomas holds a spear. According to the Golden Legend, an influential manuscript of saints' lives compiled in the middle of the 13th century, Thomas was in Upper India where he was trying to convert the king. St Thomas was having much success in converting the people and the royal family but by doing so he upset the pagan high priest who killed him with a spear or dagger.

St Thomas bears a scroll on which are written the words, translated from Latin, 'He descended into Hell'. This is a line from the 'Apostles' Creed'. This was and still is a statement of faith in the Christian Church. It begins 'I believe in God the Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth…'. A tradition dating back at least to the end of the 4th century, states that the 12 Apostles, gathered together after the death of Christ, were inspired by the Holy Spirit and wrote the Apostles Creed, each contributing a line.

The twelve apostles often formed part of a large decorative schemes in the Middle Ages. They are the backbone upon which the Christian faith was spread throughout the world.

Descriptive line

Panel of clear, coloured and flashed glass with painted details and yellow (silver) stain. Depicting the apostle St Thomas. English, c.1400-50

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Jacobus de Voragine, The Golden Legend, trans WG Ryan, Princeton University Press, 1993
Bernard Rackham, 'Stained Glass in the Collection of Mr. F.E. Sidney', Old Furniture, vols. VII-VIII (1929)
C.R. Councer, 'The Medieval Painted Glass of Mersham', Archaeologia Cantiana, vol.XLVIII (1938), pp.81-90
Curt f. Buhler, 'The Apostles and the Creed', Speculum, XVIII (1953), pp.335-339

Labels and date

SAINT JOHN THE EVANGELIST AND SAINT THOMAS

From tracery lights at the top of a window (together with Museum nos. C.334 and C.335-1937 alongside). Above both figures are scrolls with inscriptions from the Apostles' Creed: Passus sub Pontio Pilato ('Suffered under Pontius Pilate') and Descendit ad in[ferna] ('He descended into Hell').

England, about 1400-50
Museum nos. C.336 and C.337-1937 [(PW) 2003]

Materials

Stained glass

Categories

Stained Glass; Religion; Christianity; British Galleries

Collection

Ceramics Collection

Large image request

Please confirm you are using these images within the following terms and conditions, by acknowledging each of the following key points:

Please let us know how you intend to use the images you will be downloading.