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St. John's Windows to Heaven on Earth

Article on our windows in the Dec 2010 issue of The Grand Valley Magazine

For a description of each window see the St. John's History Page

There aren't many saints depicted in the stained glass windows of St. John's, Ouray, but there are plenty of chipmunks and deer, wildflowers and hummingbirds. The unusual windows celebrate "God's gifts to the people of Ouray," according to their creator, stained glass artist and parishioner Virginia Laycock.

Sometimes the windows' donors have asked for certain flowers, beloved by the person for whom the window was given. Some have favorite views depicted, such as Mt. Abram, Mt. Sneffels, or Twin Falls, while jewel-like birds, insects and animals grace almost every window.

The church's first windows were of yellow glass that became more jaundiced with age, while Ouray's winters took a fearful toll on the church's wooden window frames. By the 1980s, the windows were in a sad state. When Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Alvin McCoy died his widow, Marion Grey McCoy, desired a memorial window in memory of her husband.

Progress was slow, however. For one thing, the committee overseeing the project couldn't agree on a design. "I prayed about it, and then my eye was caught by a bouquet of flowers sitting against a window in my home. The next design I did was all flowers, and the committee went for it. Now the windows all show wildflowers, ant the beauties of God's creation in this glorious place," said Laycock.

Although landscape windows are unusual in religious architecture, they're not unheard of. Louis Comfort Tiffany, the greatest of all American stained glass designers, made a number of them for churches all over the U.S. But even Tiffany probably never made a window like the one parishioner Barbara Muntyan commissioned in thanksgiving to God for bringing her to Ouray. In the background appears beautiful Mt. Abram. Before it is spread the bounty of Ouray's mineral blessings: pink rhodochrosite, white quartz, purple fluorite and golden pyrite, all sparkling joyously in the light. To all who see them, St. John's windows are among God's most precious gifts to Ouray.