In February this year, we featured Charity from the window featuring Faith, Hope and Charity in the former East Kirk. This blog looks at the left hand light – ‘Faith’. It is shown in the photograph.
In Christianity, Faith, Hope and Love are known as the ‘theological virtues’. These three virtues are highlighted in Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, chapter 13. All three virtues point people towards God and Paul exhorts his readers to aim likewise.
How we move from Paul’s written word to the artistic depictions of the ‘three graces’ of Faith, Hope and Love is more difficult. There are early Roman writings about three martyred female saints bearing these names (Fides, Spes and Caritas in Latin). Their mother was Sophia (Greek for Wisdom). Some sources suggest their martyrdom was commemorated on 1st August, whilst the Eastern Orthodox Church had the feast day on 30th September. As with most of these early saints there is scant reliable information. Nevertheless, the history, real or otherwise of these women, produced icons featuring them. These would then lead to these more recent depictions of these three early martyrs in works of art in various media.
What is ‘faith’? It is difficult to be precise and also succinct, but it has been defined as ’the theological virtue by which a Christian believes in God’. Most acutely, this shows in accepting the redemptive act of Jesus in his crucifixion and resurrection. It is, therefore not surprising that most artistic representations of ‘Faith’ include an empty cross. Another common feature is a lamp, candle or chalice. The representation of Faith in this window in the former East Kirk is no exception – Faith is seen holding a cross in her right hand and what appears to be a lamp in her left hand (unfortunately the support bar partially blocks this part of the picture). Her expression is beautifully tranquil.