An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church

Jesse Tree

The depiction of the genealogy of Jesus in the form of a tree, springing from Jesse, the father of King David of Israel (see Is 11:1). It typically shows intermediary descendants on the foliage of the tree, which ends with Jesus or with the Virgin Mary and the baby Jesus. Its purpose is to stress the royal lineage of Jesus as the anointed king in the line of David. It is normally either painted on the glass or carved on the mullions of a window of a church or cathedral. Thus arose the term “Jesse Window.” This practice began as early as the twelfth century. Examples are to be found in the cathedrals of Wells and Chartres. Some parishes decorate a tree with symbols appropriate for a Jesse Tree as an Advent devotion.

Glossary definitions provided courtesy of Church Publishing Incorporated, New York, NY,(All Rights reserved) from “An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church, A User Friendly Reference for Episcopalians,” Don S. Armentrout and Robert Boak Slocum, editors.