The Furness Burial Cloister prepares for YOU on Ash Wednesday
The crowning glory of the floor, the architectural glass for the five sunken vaults revealed in the floor, is in! And it adds unimagined dimensions. It draws your eye from afar with its subtle shimmer, like a lake responding to a light breeze. Then it reflects our stained-glass windows when they align with the glassed vaults as you walk around. Up close, the glass disappears to reveal the vault below the floor, lit with LED for both legibility and drama.
Though we await the finishing touches, like repainting damaged walls, we consider the offering of ashes and Lenten blessings on Ash Wednesday in the Furness Burial Cloister the ritual opening of the remodeled space. The event is rich with meaning. St. Stephen’s returned to active religious life on this Fast Day two years ago, ritually marking the church’s resurrection after a year of suspended activity. Furness’ 1878 transept, transformed into a unique burial site, lends another layer. Drawing the buried dead into the church among us, after a century of being covered and largely forgotten, gives palpable witness to the church’s resurrection as a community that lives closely with its past. The Furness Burial Cloister is now a quietly eloquent, powerful place, dedicated to life and community across time and the mortal threshold, within a church that grows more vital daily. Come celebrate with us.
—Suzanne Glover Lindsay, St. Stephen’s historian and curator