HOW to replace ruined medieval stained-glass windows has over the centuries steadily troubled French civil and ecclesiastical authorities. Time and wars have taken a cruel toll. The great tapestries of light that were once the glories of soaring cathedrals have been rattled by artillery, wrecked in revolutions, smashed by hailstones—and sometimes simply removed to give better reading light for sermons. The answer of the 19th century was restoration, which fell far short of the original works. Faced with repairing more than 3,000 churches since World War II, France has recently been employing its best modern artists (see color). The result is...

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