Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Oct 15, Part 15 - Around the high altar of St. Denis Basilia

This beautiful corner filled with glass and sculpture is in the the area of the high altar of St. Denis Basilica.

This is taken from beside the high altar, and the stained glass is just behind it.

On this highest level of the church are statues to the memory of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, who were guillotined during the French Revolution. I especially like the way the blue light comes through on the left and the way the photo lets you peek through an arch in the upper right. I found this striking photo of Marie Antoinette's sculpture on Flickr.

Here again is the stained glass and the triforium behind the altar. The triforium is the walkway at the bottom of the photo above. The walkway goes clear around the inside of the church. I found this nicely illustrated page of Gothic terms.

This is the high altar itself. At first I thought the zodiac figures must be out of keeping with the religious concept of a church, but when I looked it up online, I found that the zodiac is not unusual in Medieval church art, and in fact St. Denis is filled with representations of the zodiac. Each figure of the zodiac is connected with a month of the year, and with each month came certain activities in the Medieval world. Since few of the general population could read, these must have acted as reminders or a dialog about the events of the year and their timing. Life and religion were so integrated, it's hard for most of us to remember or appreciate that the two were almost one.

Pisces and an ornate gate, or fence inside the church.

And the last photo before my camera batteries conked out is of Taurus, my own symbol.

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