On a quiet street, inside the stone sanctuary of the beautiful 1844 Gothic Revival building of First Unitarian Congregational Society of Brooklyn, New York, resides a glittering angel.
Designed by Louis C. Tiffany in 1915, the striking 8 foot by 14 foot mosaic The Angel of Light watches over the congregation from high on a wall to the left of the chancel.
Congregational records show that the mosaic survived a catastrophic fire in 1919 at its original home in Manhattan’s Unitarian Church of the Messiah (now Community Church of New York) before it was eventually installed in First Unitarian’s building in 1935. After the Brooklyn congregation purchased it, Julita A. Jones Parker, who had originally commissioned the mosaic as a memorial to her husband James, paid to have Tiffany Studios adapt and install the mosaic in its new home. The sanctuary also houses several Tiffany stained glass windows.
Looking up at the work from the main sanctuary floor, it would be easy to mistake The Angel of Light for a painting, an error many first-time viewers make, says Garnett Losak, First Unitarian’s director of congregational life. But the more head-on view from the balcony reveals the mosaic’s details: a brilliant patchwork of glass tiles in a kaleidoscope of colors, textures, and opacities.
“People are always amazed by it,” Losak says.