Stained-glass piece for sale: Catholics only

Advert for stained-glass window depicting St Peter specifies ‘suitable Catholic home’

An advertisement, which appears on the back page of this month's Catholic Intercom magazine, may well raise eyebrows over the intended sale of a stained-glass work from the studio of renowned Irish artist Harry Clarke.

The advertisement in question is for a private auction of a stained-glass piece of St Peter, from the Harry Clarke Studios. St Peter was one of the 12 apostles of Jesus Christ and, as the first pope, is recognised as one of the early leaders of the church. It is by stained-glass artist William Dowling (1907-1980), and shows the saint holding the gold and silver keys to heaven. The work, which measures 65 by 27 inches, is accompanied by an eight-page report written by Ruth Sheehy, as well as an original sketch design by the artist.

Unusually, however, the sale,which is being advertised in Intercom, a pastoral and liturgical resource magazine published by Veritas Group, an agency of the Irish Catholic Bishops' Conference, comes with some restrictions. First, it states that "St Peter must go to a suitable Catholic home" and "no traders or agents may apply" to purchase the work.

Gifting condition

Not only that but whoever acquires the work must then gift St Peter to a Catholic church or property – although they may have a new inscription placed in the base of the background.


It’s an unusual request, given that discrimination in advertising is prohibited under equality legislation, as the Equal Status Acts 2000-2015 prohibits certain kinds of discrimination on 10 grounds, one of which is religion, “on the provision of goods and services”.

The sale is being handled by Abbey Stained Glass Studios, which restored the work. According to Ken Ryan of the studio, the stained glass, which was originally from Mill Hill Missionaries in Freshford, Co Kilkenny, “was sold to a private client years ago, and is not owned by the clergy”.

Expected price

According to the ad, the stained-glass work is to be sold via Abbey Stained Glass Studios . With a decision to be made by end of March 2022, “unless previously sold”, the ad also states that the “client reserves the right to withdraw this window from auction for any reason”, noting that the “proposed new Catholic home will be most important”.

There is no guide price on the work. Auctioneer Ian Whyte sold Our Lady of Lourdes, a stained-glass work attributed to William Dowling, in 2010 for €36,000 – it had an estimate of €3,000-€5,000 at the time. "But in that work, Harry Clarke's hand was very much evident – both in the Virgin Mary and the details," explains Whyte, who estimates St Peter to be worth €3,000-€5,000.