Restoration of the medieval lead glass windows of the Church of the Virgin Mary in Frankfurt an der Oder

Did You Know…

…that ZEISS Microscopes Are Used For Restoring Church Windows?


For almost 50 years, three medieval stained glass windows purloined from the Church of the Virgin Mary in Frankfurt an der Oder after World War II were kept in Leningrad, the city once again known as St. Petersburg. It was not until 2002 that the Russian parliament permitted their return.

The windows survived the transport and storage in surprisingly good condition. Nevertheless, the three restorers, Gerlinde Möhrle, Sandra Meinung, and Nicole Sterzing, still had their work cut out for them due to missing pieces and cracks in the glass, not to mention centuries of corrosion. Two of the total of 111 individual panes returned were half-destroyed and had to be repaired with special glass from Bavaria.

To retrace and touch up the motifs, the panes were placed on a layout table so that the stained glass could be clearly distinguished from the black lead meshwork. In order to detect hairline fractures and corrosion damage, the restorers used a ZEISS stereo microscope, which could be adjusted to the various applications thanks to its modular design. It magnifies objects up to 400x, making tiny cracks appear to the observer as if they were as large as rock quarries. A surgical microscope from ZEISS was also used. By looking under the microscope, the restorers were able to use filigree tools to put the individual pieces together again.

Since June 2007, the windows have been back in the church, which was restored after 1992. Now residents and visitors to the city can once again enjoy the beauty of the historically valuable stained glass panes in their full glory.

1 December 2008