What tells the facade of a Gothic Cathedral Part 2

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Library of Congress

The custom of decorating the Church calendar, carved in stone, existed from the first centuries of Christianity. Each sign of the zodiac corresponded to a specific month, and each month one or another type of agricultural work. Almost all calendar cycles began with January and zodiac signs of Aquarius, exactly corresponding to each month. January for medieval man, as to a modern person, — a month, mostly busy with holidays and recreation. February is always marked by the resumption of fieldwork, July is harvest time, etc. A famous medieval English poem, where each month is associated with a particular type of work — he repeats the sculptural story:

January — the fire here warms my hands;

February — and again with a shovel on the ground went;

March is the time of planting had arrived;

April birdsong that I listen to stuck;

May — like a bird on a branch I am light and happy;

June — a piece of weeds at dawn wonderful;

July — the movement of a scythe;

August — preparing animal feed;

September — my flail on the grain passes monotonously;

October — planting will provide food for the whole year;

November — and in Martin’s day the pig will be slaughtered;

December — winter Christmas eve mugs wine

All of this for service to our God-given.

The calendar is a circle of time which repeats while the world exists, that is, until the final judgment.

Art and science

The seven liberal arts were divided into Trivium and stadium. The Trivium consisted, as we would now say, the Humanities: grammar, rhetoric, and dialectic. Stadium included arithmetic, geometry, astronomy and music. Philosophy, regarded as a divine science, were not included among the seven liberal arts. She stood at the head of all doctrines: only after mastering all seven arts, it was possible to comprehend the philosophy. Each discipline was the highest achievement of the human mind. Science was depicted as stately and serious virgins, holding in their hand’s various attributes. For example, the Grammar had to hold the rod Geometry — the compass and straightedge, and sitting on the bench, the Music — the hammer that she was hit multiple balls.

Gargoyles and other animals

Demons and monsters, as a rule, occupy the upper part of the Cathedral. Gargoyles adorning the gutters, and various unnamed monsters sit on the buttresses and crowned with towers. These fantastic creatures — the fruit of popular imagination. Unlike the greater part of the statues, they don’t broadcast the message: a medieval painter, permanently bound Canon, gave the rein to their imagination.

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The Cathedral as the book

Gothic cathedrals were called the Bible for the illiterate. Looking at the sculpture, the common people learned about the Christian teachings. One of the Fathers of the Church, Gregory the Great, even insisted on the need to resort to images for the education of illiterate. And St. Bonaventure talked about the importance of the visual image: “They [images] win the ignorance of the simpletons, the inertia of the senses, and weakness of memory”.

On the other hand, the medieval Cathedral — a Bible for literacy: this Scripture, carved in stone, and you can read it in different ways. In medieval theology was a widespread theory of multiplicity of meanings of the biblical text. According to her, any text of Scripture, besides the literal interpretation, has at least several more deep and subtle layers of meaning. The sculptural image, as the sacred text, has many meanings; the congregation could interpret them in different ways, depending on their social status and level of education. So, in the calendar cycle, the farmer learned the usual circle rural works, the cleric connected each month with some event in the earthly life of Christ, and University Professor, peering at the simple image of workers, peasants, thinking that a year consists of four seasons and twelve months, is the image of Christ and the Church, whose members are the four evangelists and the twelve apostles.

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