St Madeleine Church Roman Architecture Romanesque Art Term Paper

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St. Madeleine Church

Roman Architecture

Romanesque art and architecture was the true depiction of mediaeval Christian art and was in full boom in the 12th century. The term Romanesque, points to the principal source of the style and the buildings of the Roman Empire. In addition to classical elements, however, Roman church architecture is derived from components of Byzantine and Eastern origin.

French Architecture

French Romanesque architecture is characterized by (French Architecture) 1 various vaulted styles. Provencal churches have pointed domes and facades decorated with tiers of wall arcades filled with sculpture. In the Auvergne region in central France, architects built churches containing a long choir with side aisles and, around the semicircular sanctuary, an arcaded ambulatory semicircular aisle) with radiating chapels. In Burgundy the barrel-vaulted, three-aisled basilica was highly developed.

Norman architects, influenced by Lombardian methods, created an original style with groined vaults supported by flying buttresses, and facades with two high, flanking towers."

St. Madeleine Church

St.Madeleine or St. Mary Magdalene is the most colossal and dignified church in the village of France, called Vezelay which is a work of Romanesque architecture. It is one of the most profound Romanesque churches built in the 12th century with the then traditional style of sculpture and architecture. It was a revolutionary time for the Catholic preachers, believers and the subjects as the Christians were spreading throughout the Europe like wild fire in the forest and also the crusades were being fought against Muslims the main rivals, so that Roman Catholics can dominate as much as possible.

The spaciousness and hugeness of the St. Madeleine church really strikes fear and awe in the heart of the pilgrims, natives etc. Priests and clerics used to preach in such an emphatic style that the subjects had real influence on their mind set and were intoxicated by the pictures, the symbols, the architecture, the art and the echoing and heavy sounds of the church and found great relief when they paid homage to the church as much as possible, because of the honorable feelings set by the church and its besetting environment.

The great abbey church of Sainte-Madeleine,

Vezelay: The Great Romanesque Church) 2 or Mary

Magdalene, at Vezelay in Burgundy, France, is one of the wonders of the medieval world. Begun in 1120 in the Romanesque style, it was finished in the next century in the Gothic style. As this book's specially commissioned photographs reveal, its remarkable beauty results from its unique blending of Romanesque and Gothic sections -- and from its sublime sculpture. The massive semicircles of stone that crowns the church's main doors and the capitals of the interior columns, shown here in numerous close-up details, are richly carved with figures from the Bible and Christian legend. The illuminating text includes captions that guide readers through the church, sculpture by sculpture, truly bringing this magnificent abbey alive."

VEZELAY, (Vezelay)3 a village of France, in the department of Yonne, 10 m. W.S.W. Of Avallon by road.

Its population, which was over 10,000 in the middle ages, was 524 in 1906. It is situated on the summit and slopes of hill on the left bank of the Cure, and owes its renown to the Madeleine, one of the largest and most beautiful basilicas in France.

The Madeleine dates from the 12th century and was skillfully restored by Viollet-le-Duc. It consists of a narthex, with nave and aisles; a triple nave, without triforium, entered from the narthex by three doorways; transepts; and choir with triforium. The oldest portion of the church is the nave, constructed about 1125. Its groined vaulting is supported on wide, low, semicircular arches, and on piers and columns, the capitals of which are embellished with sculptures full of animation. The narthex was probably built about 1140. The central entrance, leading from it to the nave, is one of the most remarkable features of the church; it consists of two doorways, divided by a central pier supporting sculptured figures, and is surmounted by a tympanum carved with a representation of Christ bestowing the Holy Spirit upon His apostles. The choir and transepts are later in date than the rest of the church, which they surpass in height and grace of proportion. They resemble the eastern portion of the church of St. Denis, and were doubtless built in place of a Romanesque choir damaged in fire in 1165. A crypt beneath the choir is perhaps the relic of a previous Romanesque church which was destroyed by fire in 1120. The west facade of the Madeleine has three portals; that in the centre is divided by a pier and surmounted by a tympanum sculptured with a bas-relief of the Last Judgment. The upper portion of this front belongs to the 13th century. Only the lower portion of the northernmost of the two flanking towers is left, and of the two towers which formerly rose above the transept that to the north has disappeared.

The history of Vezelay is bound up with its

Benedictine abbey, which was founded in the 9th century under the influence of the abbey of Cluny. This dependence was soon shaken off by the younger monastery, and the acquisition of the relics of St. Magdalene, soon after its foundation, began to attract crowds of pilgrims, whose presence enriched both the monks and the town which had grown up round the abbey and acknowledged its supremacy.

At the beginning Of the 12th century the exactions of the abbot Aerated, who Required money to defray the expense of the reconstruction Of the church, and the refusal of the monks to grant political Independence to the citizens, resulted in an insurrection in Which the abbey was burnt and the abbot murdered. During the next fifty years three similar revolts occurred, fanned by the counts of Nevers, who wished to acquire the suzerainty over Vezelay for themselves. The monks were, however, aided by the influence both of the Pope and of Louis VII., and the townsmen were unsuccessful on each occasion.

During the i2th century Vezelay was the scene of the preaching of the second crusade in 1146, and of the assumption of the cross in 1190 by Richard Cceur de Lion and Philip Augustus. The influence of the abbey began to diminish in 1280 when the Benedictines of St. Maximin in Provence affirmed that the true body of St. Magdalene had been discovered in their church; its decline was precipitated during the wars of religion of the i6th century, when Vezelay suffered great hardships."

Dating from the 12th century (Eglise St. Madeleine

St. Madeleine Church))4, this church has one of the few existing rood screens in France carved thin with detail it looks like lace with patterns of foliage, grapes and figs. The stained glass windows date from the 16th century and Jube, gallery in magnificently carved stone suspended several feet above the floor of the church between two huge support pillars, was created between 1508-1517 by Jean

Gailde, a renowned Troyes-based Sculptor.

The unique character of the St. Madeleine church can be truly analyzed from the developmental perspective of early medieval architecture in the West, notably its

Carolingian and Ottonian phases. Some of the most significant features of St. Madeleine church are the massive west facade crowned by a tower, the complex design of the eastern part housing the sanctuary, the rhythmic alternation of piers and columns in the nave represent only the advanced stages in a lengthy and complex formal evolution marked by considerable trial and error.

The development of St. Madeleine church owes much to the primacy accorded to vaulting. Masonry vaulting since the beginning of Christian architecture had been confined to buildings of relatively small scale and to crypts. Large basilica structures, in continuation of a tradition inaugurated by the early Christian basilica, were topped by wooden roofs. St. Madeleine on the other hand, sustained massive barrel vaults, making mandatory the reinforcement of load-bearing walls in order to parry the lateral outward thrust. The presence of galleries above the aisles, with half-barrel vaults, is in all probability rooted in structural considerations connected with the problem of abutment.

The limitation of wall openings to a minimum, related to the same concern, contributed to the sober yet somberly impressive character of the light.

The major share of architectural activity was sponsored by the great monastic communities. The Cluniac order, at the peak of its power, played a primary role in the patronage of construction of St. Madeleine and that's why a number of pilgrims paid homage to this church. Especially notable is the presence of spacious ambulatories with radiating chapels designed to facilitate the pilgrims' access to the precious relics. The basilica of San Marco in Venice and other Byzantine structures help to account for the presence of domed vaulting in St. Madeleine church. The later incorporation of certain features in St. Madeleine church points toward the development of the Gothic architecture.


The art of St. Madeleine church was characterized by an important revival of Monumental forms, notably sculpture and…

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