University of Pittsburgh


Heinz Chapel window artist Charles ConnickThe Artist

The stained-glass windows are the work of Charles J. Connick’s Boston studio. Connick, a native of western Pennsylvania, received his early training in Pittsburgh. He was in the forefront of the movement that rediscovered 13th-century stained glass in Europe and established neo-Gothic as the American stained glass of choice in the first half of the 20th century.


The chapel’s 23 windows total approximately 4,000 square feet and contain nearly 250,000 pieces of glass. There are 391 identifiable figures in the windows, a large supporting cast of anonymous individuals, and an extensive variety of flora and fauna. The iconography combines traditional religious figures and symbols with historic and cultural figures that extend from biblical times through the middle ages to the late 19th century.


The five chancel windows represent the virtues of justice, faith, charity, hope, and wisdom. They feature the parables of Jesus and figures from the Old and New Testament. The chancel windows are complemented on each side by smaller windows over the choir stalls that celebrate music and recognize its importance in divine worship.


The five aisle windows depict well-known hymns. They are the easiest to view and appreciate up close. The figures include shepherds and magi from the hymn “O Come all Ye Faithful” to famous authors and composers such as Chaucer and Beethoven.


The four clerestory windows, high above the aisles, represent great teachers and interpreters of Christian thought.


The three gallery windows at the west end of the chapel represent three great Christian literary works:  St. Francis of Assisi’s “Canticle of the Sun,” John Bunyan’s “Pilgrim’s Progress,” and “The Quest for the Holy Grail” from Sir Thomas Malory’s Morte d’Arthur.


The 73-foot transept windows, among the tallest in the world, represent the character traits of tolerance, courage, temperance, and truth. A symbol of each trait is in the tracery. The windows, which highlight an equal number of women and men, contain sacred and secular figures from history, literature, and science. A rosette above each set of windows contains a red-winged seraph on the north and a blue-winged cherub on the south.

From the perspective of our multicultural and uncertain perch, the sense of values and intrinsic truth that the Heinz Memorial Chapel iconography portrays can seem remote. But, as with all great buildings that are truly representative of the best of their times, this chapel’s truth and beauty can challenge us to find these values for our own day.

More Information

A 72-page, full-color book with a complete appendix of all 391 figures in the chapel windows is available in the gift shop.