Images of Medieval Art and Architecture

France: Benedictine Abbey Church of Saint-Denis

Twelfth-Century Windows: Moses Window


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Iconographical Key

The panels marked in yellow are ninteenth-century restorations. The panels marked in red contain some twelfth-century glass. Click on the twelfth-century panels for more information about them.

b - 6 Moses on Mount Nabo
c -6 Raising of the Brazen Serpent
d - 6 Punishment of Core, Danthan and D'Abirs
b - 5 Moses breaks the Tablets of the Law
c -5 Moses receives the Law
d - 5 Adoration of the Golden Calf
b - 4 Moses's rod turns into a serpent
c -4 Crossing of the Red Sea
d - 4 Plague of frogs
b - 3 Moses tends sheep
c -3 The Burning Bush
d - 3 Sheep
b - 2 Extermination of Jewish newborns
c -2 Pharoah's daughter finds Moses
d - 2 Extermination of Jewish newborns

Other Extant Panels



Description by Abbot Suger


Translated by David Burr, History Department, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA, and reproduced here with his kind permission.


We also had painted, by the hands of many masters sought out in various nations, a splendid variety of new windows below and above, from the first in the chevet representing the tree of Jesse to the one over the principal door of the entrance.


In another window, 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.

Since their marvelous workmanship and the cost of the sapphire and painted glass makes these windows very valuable, we appointed a master craftsman for their protection and maintenance, just as we also appointed a skilled goldsmith for the gold and silver ornaments. These would receive their allowances and whatever was apportioned to them in addition, such as coins from the altar and flour from the common storehouse of the brethren, and they were never to neglect their duties.

Comparative Material

Compare with other twelfth-century Saint-Denis windows.


Grodecki (1976), pp. 93-8.

Suger, ed. Panofsky (1948/1979), pp. 74-77, 204.

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Last updated by:JV Date: 03/98