Columbia Library columns (v.45(1996))

(New York :  Friends of the Columbia Libraries.  )



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  v.45,no.2(1996:Autumn): Page 31  


Francis J. Sypher, Jr.


"^isitors and parishioners at the
Church of the Heavenly Rest, at
90th Street and Fifth Aventie,
often admire the brilliant stained-glass windows, which were made in
England and installed, for the most part, between 1939 and 1944. If one
takes the time to look closely, one notices in the lower left corner of the west
window (fronting Fifth Avenue and Central Park) a disk of a distinctive sky-
blue color. On inspection this reveals itself to be a beautiful image of the Seal
of Columbia University. On its edge appear the words: SIGILLVM
COLLEGII COLVMBL\E NOVI EBORACI (Seal of Columbia College in
New York). The allegorical figures of the seated woman and the children at
her knees are gracefully delineated. And the sacred texts in Hebrew {auri el,
"God is my Light," spoken by the woman), Greek {logia zonta, "The Words of
Life," written on the pages of the open book in her right hand), and Latin
(in lumine tuo videbimus lumen, "In Thy light shall we see light," near the trian¬
gular radiance enclosing the tetragrammatou at the top), and the biblical
reference ("I Pet. ILL2.&C.") at the bottom—al! are rendered with precision
and exactitude, and in elegantly drawn letters. Why, one might ask, does the
Seal of Columbia appear at the Protestant Episcopal Church of the Heavenly
Rest? The purpose of this article is to explain the connection, which touches
the lives of three leading rectors of the church and illustrates the far-
reaching influence of Columbia upon people and institutions.

The founder^in 1868-—-and first rector of the Church of the Heavenly
Rest was the Reverend Robert Shaw Howland (D.D., 1863, Hon.), rector
from 1847 to 1869 of the Church of the Holy Aposdes, at 28th Street and
Ninth Avenue. In that period the area that is now "midtown" was dominated
  v.45,no.2(1996:Autumn): Page 31