St Dunstan in St Dunstan-in-the-West
There's a big gap in my education when it comes to saints. I'm sure I probably learned about the major saints at school, but not a lot stuck. Yet if someone had shown us pictures of stained glass saints, I'm pretty sure some of their names and fates would have been fixed far more firmly, especially the ones who met sticky ends or have gruesome or strange tales associated with their names.
It's not obligatory for enjoyment of stained glass, but it does make a difference if you have a smattering of saint knowledge. So I've been teaching myself saints' names, attributes and stories (a sort of very amateur and biased Saints for Dummies course because certain saints appeals far more than others) and now love it when I come across favourite and/or lesser-known ones. Like St Dunstan who was at one time a blacksmith and, when visited by the devil, nailed a horseshoe to his hoof and gripped his nose with red-hot tong and dragged him along the street, yelling.
St Lawrence in St Alban's Cathedral
Or St Lawrence who was roasted alive on a gridiron and is today (ironically, I have to say) the patron saint of chefs. (St Lawrence Jewry near the Guildhall in London has a fine but remarkably sanguine-looking St Lawrence in a window by Christopher Webb, and a weathervane in the shape of a gridiron.)
St Michael at Fairford
I'm also keen on depictions of Archangel Michael weighing souls on Judgement Day and deciding who goes where, often surrounded by all sorts of goodies, baddies, chaos and flames.
St Catherine in St Alban's Cathedral
And poor old St Catherine with her spiked wheel is a frequently seen and easily spotted saint (but why did they never tell us about the link with the Catherine wheel fireworks we liked so much?)
St Veronica in St Mark's, Broomhill, Sheffield
If ever I find a St Veronica with a veil with the ghostly face of Jesus on it, I am delighted, but I am still hoping to come across one of the few windows that feature St Apollonia and a huge molar and/or dental pliers.
It was this enormous and beautifully designed west window made in 1960 by WT Carter Shapland in St Mark's in Surbiton that made me think I needed to learn my saints - well, the apostles, at least. It's a fine aide-mémoire as each of them has a nice, clear attribute.
But I still don't know who this is, carrying a spare arm, in Notre-Dame du Sablon in Brussels. I'd love to find out.
[Thanks to Lisa, I now know this is Saint Alena.]