Tuesday, September 18, 2012

You ready for a little art?

In a very, very old book, Mitralis de officiis, Mr. Sicard of Cremona (1155-1215) traces the symbolic significance of the architectural elements of Christian churches. Windows, for examples, are the "Doctors of the Church," enabling the divine light to the reach the faithful. A little farther down, Sicard also compares the windows to the five senses, which "facilitate the understanding of the Holy Word. [...] The building's walls represent the religious, whose prayer and faith constitute the unity of Christians." (From Eric Palazzo's "Relics, Liturgical Space, and the Theology of the Church," in Treasures of Heaven, Yale University Press, 2010.)

I know this quote refers to the symbolism of infamous medieval windows and walls like these:

Abbey Church of St. Madeline, Vezelay, FR. Built in 1104 A.D.
Stained glass apse in the Basilica of St. Denis, Paris, FR. Built 1135ish.
But as I read I kept thinking of these:

Palmyra LDS Temple.
Doctors of the Church? The five senses helping us understand the Word? I can see it... 

And what about the walls, symbolizing the faithful, the members, united in prayer?


Absolutely, wonderfully yes.

I am loving my medieval relics class. I wriggle inside during each seminar with the inner joy of knowing I also believe, like those who lived 1,000 years ago, that Heavenly Father is available to reach and to talk to, as we come to him in certain sacred stone edifices (albeit without a lot of the complicated liturgical elements like saints and relics). I don't know if my professor is religious or not, at this point in my studies I simply assume my professors are agnostic and work backwards from there. At any rate, he teaches about the beauty of reliquaries and basilicas with the gravitas, the reverence, and the awe that such creations deserve. As one who proudly holds a recommend to enter the House of the Lord, the temple of the Latter-Day Saints, I find the serious discussion of architectural and artistic effort, planning, and careful design in worship of God extremely fascinating and, in a way, familiar. To be continued...


Maggie said...

You are in that class with my roommate Caitlin! You should meet her if you haven't already!

Judy Anne said...

I love the symbols you have identified. I am always learning about how the Lord puts clue/symbols everywhere for us to uncover and enjoy!

MOM said...

Nice Linds. Our prayers ascend straight to heaven. btw...Thursday in our temple I noticed new paintings...some Teiggart (is that right?), and other beautiful and vibrant paintings. A gorgeous one of what must be the Sacred Grove. No Joseph. Just some beautiful ligh coming from deep within. Loved it.