General Information about the Moses Window

The Moses window is the best preserved 12th century windows in Saint Denis. It consists of  five registers, each with a circular central panel illustrating an event in the life of Moses.  Scholars have speculated that Moses was a prominent theme at the royal abbey of St. Denis because his leadership of the Israelites was an archetype for the French King's leadership of his people. 

The window is also important because Abbot Suger left a description of it and a verse of poetry explaining its symbolism. He wrote:

In another panel, where the pharaoh's daughter finds Moses in the basket, 

 Moses in the basket is that child 
Whom the church, the royal maiden, nurses with holy mind.

In the same window, where the Lord appeared to Moses in the burning bush, 

Just as the bush is seen to burn yet is not consumed,
So he who is full of the divine fire burns yet is not consumed. 

Also in the same window, where the pharaoh and his horsemen are submerged in the sea 

What baptism does to the good, 
A like form but an unlike cause does to the pharaoh's army. 

Also in the same window, where Moses raises the bronze serpent, 

Just as the bronze serpent slays all serpents, 
So Christ raised on the cross slays his enemies. 

In the same window, where Moses receives the Law on the mountain, 

The law having been given to Moses, 
The grace of Christ comes to its aid. 
Grace gives life, the letter kills. 

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