One of the more mysterious aspects of the stained glass windows of St. Mary's church in Nanticoke, PA is the significance of the round windows positioned at the top of each pair of portrait windows, and at the top of the two pairs of non-portrait windows located at the very back of the church. These are placed well above the heads of the parishioners, some fifteen or so feet off the ground, and contain details and carefully written calligraphy that are almost impossible to view without some aid. What do they show, and say, and represent? Do they relate in any way to the portraits below them?
Based on the most immediately visible round windows, all of which seemed to be examples of plants with Latin words attached - as dee pointed out, possibly the Latin names of the plants themselves - I began to suspect that these images might represent a Hortus conclusus, an "enclosed garden" made of images painted on glass, each representing some aspect of Mary or other theme drawn from the Bible.
So, for example, we have the Oliva speciosa, the "fair olive tree," whose significance is described here.
We also see what appears to be a rosebush in bloom positioned above Saints Leo and George.
Then we have what may be a Cornus, a dogwood tree, the relevance of which is explained in dee's comment.
But the pattern soon falls apart. The rest of the round windows are of a collection of plants, objects, buildings, all of which may have some deeper significance, but most of which do not fit in with the Hortus conclusus theme.
Immaculate Heart of Mary (distinguished from the Sacred Heart of Jesus by the flowers and piercing sword)
Chalice (or, more likely, a Ciborium)
Closeup of calligraphy under Host image. Even at this distance I can't make it out.
UPDATE: Translation and explanation, again courtesy of dee:
And even more from dee, in a later comment:
"Speculum sin macula" Mirror without blemish, or mirror without stain.
In the Litany of Mary, she is referred to as the Mirror of Justice (and the Seat of Wisdom, Ark of the Covenant and my favorite, Mystical Rose, among others) I was trying to match all those incredibly beautiful metaphors with these windows -- the temple could be the Tower of David, for example.
...upon further reflection (no pun intended) I think that's the moon in the Speculum Sin Macula window. The moon reflects the light of the sun; Mary reflects God's love back to us.
I would never have guessed that last word was "Macula." It looks to mee something like "Alarula", which of course doesn't translate. So could this be a depiction of a mirror, rather than a Host?UPDATE, 12/14/08: While researching this window, I was reminded of something I had once been very familiar with, but have since forgotten:
The term pyx is also a standard term used in the Roman Catholic Church to refer to a flat, circular container, sometimes called a lunette, composed of a ring of metal (usually lined with gold) holding two glass or crystal disks, to create a round, flat, glass-enclosed space for the Eucharistic Host. This is used together with a monstrance for exposition and Benediction services. The lunette is often kept in another object, itself sometimes called a pyx, luna, or custodia, which is usually a round box often on a small stand, giving the impression of a faceless, old-fashioned, alarm clock.So this brings us full circle to the possibility that this is an image of a host contained in a lunette. But those markings on the white circular object in the window do look intriguingly like round craters, rayed craters, and maria on the Moon, though...
As for the rest of these images: What is their significance? I do not know. I present them here for you to ponder and offer your thoughts.