Secrets of Urgell

(A work in progress revised September 21, 2017)

It might surprise Arthurian scholars who connect the grail myth to the "Matter of Britain" that the word originated in Urgell (Catalonia) according to the experts (1), and that at least nine churches in the region have paintings of the Holy Grail (2). The Canadian historian Joseph Goering claims that such images "are found nowhere else in Christendom: the Virgin Mary holding a sacred vessel." They were created fifty years before Chrétien de Troyes invented grail romance (3) when the French poet allowed a virgin to carry the grail for the first time in literature. Joan Vallhonrat, a friend of Picasso, copied several paintings in 1908 and as soon as reports about this unique treasure became public the churches could no longer be protected at their isolated locations in the High Pyrenees (4). The frescoes were covered with transparent glue and peeled off from the plaster in an Italian method called "strappo". Most of them are exhibited today at the Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya (MNAC) in Barcelona and celebrated as the most important collection of Romanesque art in the world. The most famous painting is the "Pantocrator" at Sant Climent de Taüll which features Christ above the angels and apostles with a stunned facial expression that has not been surpassed in eight hundred years of painting. Because of objections to the removall of the works, painters had to restore the empty walls with copies in the 1960s. These close-ups of the "grail virgin" show the difference between the original and the inferior copy, which explains why they were replaced by fancy projections of digital recreations like this one:

Some international art historians connect the frescoe to grail romance, but independent of the etymological link of the word "graal" to Urgell. Chandler R. Post writes in History of Spanish Painting (Harvard, 1930, p.195) that the vessel in Mary's hand "has been tentatively explained as the Holy Grail because Montserrat in Catalonia is connected with this legend and because the vessel seems to be filled with the Sacred Blood emitting miraculous rays". Otto Demus supports this identification in Romanische Wandmalerei, (München, 1968, p.160): "The Virgin... holds up a dish filled with the red glowing blood of Christ, a reminder that Catalonia was one of the centers of the cult of the Grail." They don't mention that the cult is about a Black Madonna, while this one is rather whitish. An interesting issue we will follow up because the other Romanesque paintings show Mary with a chalice, the Holy Grail of popular culture (5), but only this one is a bowl, which confirms the etymology of "gradalis-gradal-graal" (6). Her grail is mirrored at nearby Santa Maria de Taüll where the wisemen offer their gifts in such bowls as the detail shows at right. (Both images can be enlarged by clicking on them). This raises the question what Mary might be signaling with her right hand, is it that the flames are lightening her skin or a secret message – or both? Here are details of foolish virgins (7) and apostles (8) from other churches in the region that show hand signals were popular at the time. 

But why is the facial expression of the virgin so strange – is it because her lips are sealed? Someone without an art background wouldn't even notice the subtle effect. Sealing wax or glue are difficult to depict but the effect of stitches is easily done. The fiery bowl (9) could also relate to Christ in Majesty who floats high above with the Book of Life announcing EGO SVM LVX MVNDI (I am the light of the world). He is surrounded by angels and animals, symbols of the Tetramorph, and ready to exit his dualistic mandorla. In view of such a dramatic scenario, it is understandable that a history professor would overlook the lines on Mary's lips. Goering reveals that he had neither studied art nor literature and therefore admits humbly to "poaching" in an homage of former teachers at the Pontifical Institute of Medieval Studies in Toronto. We poached as well by copying the grail virgin from his book at first, where the stitches look like jpeg-distortions, but the MNAC provided us kindly with a better reproduction (10). The close-up of Mary's mouth at left is enhanced to show the actual brush strokes across both lips. It remains an open question if the painter wanted to depict actual stitches because vertical lines would seal the lips as well. Although no paintings with such lips have been found in other Romanesque churches, most experts we have been able to contact dismiss them as an artist's personal style to depict a mouth. (See Appendix for our visual comparison!)

The other church in the village, Santa Maria de Taüll, features the traditional depiction of the Virgin Mary with little Jesus on her lap, which makes us wonder why she is lined up with the apostles at St Climent? This detail shows the wisemen at her side and, yes, below two (!) eight-pointed Stars of Bethlehem. They are wearing exotic miters with three fleurs-de-lys on top that look like crosses, which is an interesting ambiguity because they could either be kings or Magi! Bishop Ramon would have known that the Church revised their image as heretic magicians in the early Middle Ages by renaming them the ¨Holy Three Kings¨! This claim was preached from every pulpit until the Reformation, when Bible translations became available to the general public and restored them as the Magi. It is not surprising that two exceptions survived all this time in the Val d'Aran (11): Santa Maria de Cap d'Aran and Santa Maria d'Aneu show the Magi with conical caps, which makes them independent from Byzantine art where they used to wear Phrygian caps, like these in Ravenna. Here is another challenge for historians and a major break-through for us: At Maria d'Aneu, the three Magi wear robes with designs of the "fiery" and "watery" triangles we feature in our study since the 1980s. At left is a detail which can be enlarged by clicking on it! One of the reasons why scholars may have overlooked these paintings is that both valleys were difficult to access until two tunnels were built, the first in the 20th century and the second in 2007, see Viella Tunnel!

Back to Goering who ignores the esoteric symbolism of the Grail Virgin and simply links her to the Gregorian Reform so that he doesn't have to question her identity. Hence, he interprets the red-hot flames as "The grace of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost", but conceeds that "sacraments of oil, chrism and consecration; the Blood of Christ in the Eucharist; each and all of these meanings, and others too, might be represented..." After insisting that the poet Chrétien had no idea what a grail really was, he goes on to feature the consecration of the churches in Taüll by Bishop Ramon of Roda and Barbastro. Almost an entire chapter covers the life and works of this saint, which allows him to reconstruct the ceremony of the consecration. Goering admits "One might even imagine that the Grail processions as described by Chrétien de Troyes and Wolfram von Eschenbach owe something to this public liturgy" and points out that naming a church after "St. Clement, the famous first-century bishop of Rome and successor of St Peter" and adding the relics of St. Cornelius are meaningful choices, to conclude:

"Whatever the message intended by this choice of patron saint and of precious relics, there can be no doubt that the consecration of the church of St. Clement in 1123 was an event of even more that usual importance in the valleys of the Pyrenees." (12)

Goering would have understood this important message if he had checked the vita of Ramon in Spanish sources. "San Ramón, el obispo desterrado" informs us that the bishop refused to support the wars of king Alfonso the Battler and protected the Muslims, Jews and heretics in his diocese. Alfonso provided for the bishop of Huesca a detachment of soldiers who murdered the entourage of Ramon and expelled him from Barbastro. He had to retire to a cave near Roda where he lived for three years like a hermit until the bishops of Urgell and Barcelona could restore him at least to Roda, which was under their jurisdiction. Only then could he start the mission to consecrate the churches of Taüll and include some esoteric messages.

Visitors can buy a booklet in the major languages at the MNAC, which was recently published by the University of Lleida (13) and offers many pictures of St Climent's apse which are also available on-line.  We learn that nine Romanesque churches of the region became part of UNESCO World Heritage in 2000, and that the inferior copies of the early 1960s have been removed during a major restoration between 2008 and 2010. During the process, many new images were discovered which have since remained on site. They show also a photo from 1904 when the apse was still covered up by a 17th century altarpiece. The detail at left is interesting for several reasons: Only Christ is visible below the ceiling, but the saints with Mary and the grail are masked by a wide band! (Based on our research, Jeroni Pujades or Pierre de Marca may have arranged this cover-up because the Spanish Inquisition was still active at the time!) But more important for us today, the altarpiece seems to have inspired the towers of the "Sagrada Familia", the famous church by Antoni Gaudi in Barcelona! It is also of interest for our project that the authors of the booklet attempt to explain in chapter 8, "Reading the Artwork", some of its messages down to specific details, but avoid anything controversial or heretic. They feature the garments of Jesus "with edges simulating pearled adornments performed with detail and refinement, as if an exquisite goldsmith had made them to dress a king" (15), yet ignore that both garments have a wide border similar to the belt, with diamond-shaped rhombuses of two triangles. The same decorative band is worn by each apostle on either side of Mary, but only the rhombuses of James are divided openly into triangles! This symbolism is mirrored on the robes of the Magi at Santa Maria d'Aneu, which suggests that their esoteric symbolism is related. Surprisingly, they don't even bring up the row of colorful swastikas below the apostles, which they feature on pp. 24/25 of their booklet and can be reviewed at our above sample of the digital recreations. In spite of its abuses during the holocaust, the swastika was always a sacred symbol of spiritual principles in Buddhism and Hinduism, and pertains to the revolving sun and continued creation in the Zoroastrian religion! Yet without even mentioning the Magi at Santa Maria in the context, these authors come up with the simplistic conclusion that Bishop Ramon wanted to remind "medieval society – and thus our own – that the light to successfully lead and direct human existence is found in Christ in Majesty, represented in this apse;  almighty, the beginning and end of all things. And its pedagogy and teachings are very clear and basic: be like Abel (practice good) and go to heaven, or be like Cain (practice envy and badness) and go to hell."

According to our research at St Pere de Rodes, Chrétien based his "Conte du Graal" on the basic symbolism of Peter's skull and crossbones and the vessel with Christ's blood, which were allegedly lost at the site of the monastery. Based on his description of the "Magic Sword", we proposed also that the poet visited St Pere around 1177, the Peace of Venice, and learned that pope Alexander III had ordered the removal of all traces of the centuries-long search for the relics (16). However, because these searchers had profited spiritually from their loss they had apparently become iconoclasts and withdrawn to the High Pyrenees. While following their trail, Chrétien may have discovered at Urgell another church by the name of St Pere which features the popular image of Christ in Majesty in the apse and depicts his mother Mary with her crown below him and also among the apostles, which eliminates the option that Mary Magdalene is depicted at St Climent.  (This detail shows her with St John). But the poet could have heard about Bishop Felix of Urgell's "adoptionist heresy" and wondered if it had anything to do with Mary's demotion?  He may have been told that "two similar churches" would provide the answer and returned to Sant Pere near the Mediterranean where the relics had been lost. Because monks were rewriting the vita of Guifré el Pelós everywhere, he would have checked out Montserrat and then crossed the lower Pyrenees to St Miquel de Cuixà near Prades, where this famous knight of the ninth century was born. The monastery used to be called Exalata, which reminds of Excalibur, but was destroyed by an inundation of the river Tet in 878 CE and rebuilt at Cuixà, and later dedicated to St Miquel to combat heresies. We should note that Guifré was the son of the celebrated Sunifred of Urgell and Count of Barcelona, and that the French poet returned probably towards Urgell from the North. Perhaps, some local Templars or Cathars had revealed to him that the two churches are neither the "Sant Peres", nor the Venus Temples in the Pyrenees and at Montserrat, and that they can only be found by travelling "per-ce-val", through a certain valley named "Val d'Aran" (valley of valleys) in the High Pyrenees to the "Val de Boi" where Taüll is located. An interesting moment for us to imagine what the French poet from the North was thinking when he approached this odd looking church:

 

He would have been riding per-ce-val for days and the idea of the Fisherking was going through his mind because Peter's bones were rotting in a cave with some blood of Jesus, which no one could find and redeem. He may have had visions of a castrated papacy and couldn't believe his eyes when confronted with the oversized tower of the little church an impressive phallic symbol! Once he noticed the dualism, because the other church in the little village is identical, he recognized their link because one church is dedicated to "Christ in Majesty" and the other to his mother Mary and "epiphany", the birth scenario. He noticed that two colorful birds at Santa Maria are marked "PAVO" (peafowl), yet have none of the usual peacock eyes, and are drinking from a colorful chalice and surrounded by three eight-pointed stars, which link them clearly to the Magi. The unambiguous image of the Holy Grail, which alludes to the phoenix legend, and the fiery bowl at Sant Climent inspired the cosmic concept of Chrétien's "Conte du Graal", based on Plato's "divine mixing bowl of life", because the poet realized that Ramon had his painters preserve the potency of the grail message.

As he tried to understand the complex symbols, the French poet read on a column at St Climent, which is still preserved, that the church is named after this pope of the first century and that the relics of St Cornelius, Bishop and Martyr, were placed in the altar during the consecration in 1123 (18). Pope Climent was a successor of St Peter and introduced the phoenix legend to Christianity, and pope Cornelius (d. 243) preached that the Church has the power to reconcile apostates (see Franciscans), which was also practiced by bishop Ramon and is confirmed by the message of compassion and pluralism in early grail romance. Chrétien realized that Ramon had a special "dramaturgy" in mind by consecrating St Climent first and Sta Maria on the next day to separate the different messages of the churches. By celebrating Christ in Majesty, he fused OT Prophecy with Revelation to establish that the "Cosmic Christ" reaches from the alpha to the omega. Hence, he is depicted before his incarnation (19) and not during the "Second Coming" which would pertain to the paintings of the "Last Judgment" at Sta Maria. This is signaled by Ramon because the "agnus dei" (Lamb of God) is depicted with seven eyes at St Climent and as a naturalistic lamb at Sta Maria. An erudite theologian would disagree with us, but the stories that are told on these walls were probably as entertaining eight hundred years ago as a musical like "Jesus Christ, Superstar" today – or Mozart's "Magic Flute"! There are so many ambiguities going on at St Climent that Ramon would have raised his hands and replied to critics that all questions will be answered the next day at Sta Maria! Here is a poster of Jesus in black & white which exposes more black than white features to connect him to the Black Madonna of Montserrat (20). His hands and feet show no wounds from the crucifixion for Thomas to check, which dates his dramatic appearance before the fact. This takes us to the painting of Lazarus, who is not the sick man Jesus raised from the dead in John 11:1-43, but surprisingly another sick Lazarus who dies and stays dead, according to Luke 16:19–31. What's interesting about this parable is that it claims both identity and memory remain after death, which makes us question where Jesus might have been before he was born in Bethlehem? The pre-Christian theme continues with  the Tetramorph to his right and left where the Evangelists are still angels with many wings with the creatures of Ezekiel's prophecies.

(more about Santa Maria to follow)

In the Middle Ages, when most people were analphabets, Biblical stories were often displayed in churches the way comic strips communicate, and the paintings at Taull confirm it. Hence, when Chrétien began to "read" the paintings like a book, he had to enter from the "peacock" at the upper left of the apse of Sant Climent...

to reach pope Climent and Peter next to each other, and he contemplated next before the vision of Christ the difference between reincarnation and resurrection. Eventually, Chrétien looked down and began to study the row of apostles, and the red dots on their cheeks and foreheads, which made them look strangely lifelike. When his eyes reached Mary with her stern face and sealed lips he started to meditate. After some time had passed, the red dots made her come to life, a phenomenon which is probably best described with Perceval's trance below.

The dualistic theme of Chrétien's poem is introduced with Perceval's father, who is wounded between the legs before he dies, and by the suffering from the same wound of his "spiritual father", the Fisherking. This concept culminates in the failure of Perceval at the Grail Castle, and Gauvin's problems at the Castle of Wonders. Two sides of a coin, so to speak, that need to be fused into one to find the truth! The wise hermit is fashioned after Joan Gari at Montserrat, but fused with Ramon who preached this from his cave. The sermon and grail procession are based on Ramon's writings, as Goering suggests, but what the Canadian historian failed to realize is that Chrétien helped preserve the grail mystery by writing it down. The grail procession in the poem begins also with "two acolytes (assistants) carrying candelabras", but instead of priests with crosses and oils, a virgin follows with a grail – a first in literature! Although the poet names the object a "graal", he uses the red flames on the painting to transform the simple bowl into shiny gold and decorates it with "the most precious stones on earth and in the seas" from Revelation. To strengthen the symbolism of the "macrocosm", Chrétien notes that the grail shines so brightly, the light of the candles in the Grail Castle faded like the stars when the Sun or Moon are rising (21). To make sure his audience gets the point, that the grail is about Sun symbolism and that the precious stones represent the planets, a second virgin follows with a silver platter, which adds the Moon. The red-hot blood is separated from the bowl and symbolized by a ¨blanche lance¨ during the banquet, which a knave brings from another room. Before Perceval realizes that only a bowl of myrrh would remain, he notices that a drop of blood flows from the metal point of the lance and runs down the shaft to the knave's hand, which distracts him from asking the important question. This is a reference to Longinus and the crucifixion, which is not depicted in any of the paintings, but the red dots in Mary's face return in the most enchanting scene of the poem, in the "microcosm", when Perceval falls into a trance and remembers his beloved Blanchefleur after a falcon had attacked a wild goose and three drops of her fresh blood form a triangle and melt the white snow. 

(The second opinion of Wolfram will be inserted soon!)

Goering ends his book with the trivial pursuit of an obscure count Rotrou of the Perche as the most likely candidate for Chrétien's Perceval. If he is right we would have come to the wrong place and should be heading North to follow up with his praise of Helinandus, one of the most ardent preachers of the Albigensian Crusades. But the magical mystery of the sealed lips and esoteric triangles keeps us in the Pyrenees a bit longer to study the legends of Mont Verdera, the "green mountain" of truth and Venusberg! In addition to the usual questions we'll have to find out how the frescoes relate to the 'Second Coming' and the Magi, what Jesus might really be signaling with his hand, and why an older painting at Sant Pere de Burgal depicts the fiery grail still as an enclosed relic – with Peter signaling like Jesus and holding up with his covered hand two keys like Mary her Holy Grail? This grail parallels Peter's keys because a fiery relic is made up of two chalices, with the top one reversed – as if both Saints are posing for a poster to promote the kind of "dualism" Chrétien would feature in his poem. Hermetic messages that require a detour to the Pontifical Institutions of the Vatican and a closer look at the Christian "history" (éstoire) of Robert de Boron, whom we honor as the third originator of grail romance.

Appendix:

Every scholar we contacted about the vertical lines on Mary's mouth, at the MNAC and in other parts of Europe, is of the opinion that they are an artist's personal style to depict a mouth and that there is no indication that the lips are "sealed". (The only exception is Anita Rutz, an expert of  icons in Germany and close friend of this researcher!) However, the widespread criticism is easily disproven with close-ups of John, Jesus, and James (below) in the same fresco and by the same painter. For a better comparison we framed the refined head of Christ with two apostles who are painted in the same style as Mary, but enhanced by a higher contrast and tint to emphasize the details.

Below is the face of Bartholomew, who is next to Mary and this also confirms that there are no vertical lines over any of their lower lips. Some critics pointed out that John´s lips have lines, but his close–up reveals fine cracks in the plaster which run from his ear across the lips to the chin, and only the corners of the mouth are marked by lines because he is beardless. Obviously, neither Jesus nor his three disciples have lines over their lower lips, which is conclusive evidence that Mary's lips are meant to be sealed! In fact, it is probably the subtleness of the effect that preserved the fresco over the centuries, because the image would have been removed or whitewashed long ago! That so many depictions of Mary with a vessel survived in the Pyrenees could be an indication that some Church reforms never reached them.

 

Notes:

1. C. du Fresne du Cange; Glossarium, L.Favre, Niort 1885, Tom. IV, p. 91, and Joan Coromines, Diccionari Etimològic Complimentari de la Llegua Catalana, Vol. IV, Curial Edicions Catalanes, Barcelona, 1984, p.637.

2. Joseph Goering, The Virgin and the Grail, Origins of a Legend, Yale University Press, New Haven, 2005), p. 70. It is rather curious that the historian can accept that "Mary is portrayed here as as first among equals (prima inter pares) in the Apostolic college" (p.101). Yet the Council of Ephesus in 431 established her as "Mother of God" and the Romanesque period saw the construction of major Marian churches, such as the Speyer Cathedral in Germany, and Our Lady of Flanders Cathedral in Tournai, Belgium. From the year 1000 onward more and more churches, including many of Europe's greatest cathedrals were dedicated to Mary (see Wikipedia). Why would Ramon consecrate Santa Maria de Taüll and feature the Virgin Mary after he seems to have reduced her to a mere apostle at St Climent?

3. Chrétien de Troyes, Arthurian Romances, tr. William W. Kibler, (London, 1991), pp. 7-8

4. Montserrat Pagès, the curator of MNAC, offers in Romanesque mural painting in Catalonia (2012) a most informative introduction, but without references to the controversial grail context.

5. Chrétien described the grail as a "golden platter" as bright as the sun, Robert changed it to a "Paschal dish" from the Last Supper, and Wolfram reduced it to a "lapsit exillis", a stone from paradise. Decades later, other poets changed the grail to the Cup of the Last Supper, which was probably meant to enhance the myth with the transubstantiation treatise of Thomas Aquinas.

6.  Joan Coromines, ‘Apèndix sobre Greala i el Greal’ in idem, Diccionari Etimològic Complimentari de la Llengua Catalana (Barcelona 1980-), 10 vols to date, IV, pp. 637-641  at p. 637: ‘del cat. Greala “escudella” (cat. arcaic gradal, f.). La dada més antiga que es té del mot en qualsevol país es troba en una escriptura catalana, i més concretament urgellesa en latí en l’any 1010 (du C.): “ad Sancta Fide coenobio gradales duas de argento” […], d’Ermengarda, filla del comte Borrell de Barcelona, any 1030, tornem a trobar “vexela de auro et de argento, id sunt enapos V, et gradals II”’.

7. Sant Quirze de Pedret, see romanesqueheritage by Peter Hubert whose spectacular website has been discontinued because of his death in 2017, which is a great loss. We are fortunate to have saved one of his files in pdf, which deserves some serious study! You'll note that he was one of the many experts who disagree with our theory of the "sealed lips", but that he kindly credits our website as one of his references.

8. Santa Maria de Mur, now at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. See above, no. 4, the report of Montserrat Pagès to see how the preservation of Romanesque Art originated.

9. The fiery bowl may symbolize Plato's "Krater", a divine mixing bowl of life. See Henry Kahane, Renee Kahane, The Krater and the Grail: Hermetic Sources of the Parzival (Illinois Studies in Language and Literature, Vol 56), 1985.

10. Manuel Castiñeiras and Jordi Camps, Romanesque Art in the MNAC collections, in collaboration with Joan Duran-Porta, photographs by Matías Briansó, (Barcelona, 2008). They acknowledge the "Holy Grail" only once, in a reference to Sant Pere de Burgal (p. 28). It is rather curious they single out an enclosed relic and ignore the well-known Virgin of Taüll.

11. The mural of Santa Maria de Cap d'Aran is now at the The Cloisters in New York, the one from Santa Maria d'Aneu at the MNAC in Barcelona.

12. Goering (see above No. 2), p. 78. He writes in footnote 13, p. 172, that "it is enough to repeat that nowhere else in Christian art, ouside this small area of the Pyrenees, do we find images of the Virgin Mary holding a fiery vessel, or a vessel of any kind." Aware of the fact that this argument disproves his own identification, he admits in the next footnote: "Some have asked whether it might not be Mary Magdalene rather than the Virgin Mary who is depicted here... Such a view would not affect the hypothesis of this book in any material way, but I am persuaded by authority (all art historians seem to agree) and by argument (for example, that Mary Magdalene is almost universally distinguished by her long, flowing hair with which she anointed Jesus' feet) that the figure represented here is indeed the Virgin Mary and not the Magdalene".

Hence, Chrétien may have been sitting before Mary and wondering about her huge hair-cover and sealed lips, until he saw a painting of Lazarus which would later inspire Picasso and other Cubists. He had to compare Luke and John, and finally realized that Bishop Ramon had chosen another sophisticated ambiguity, and this inspired the French poet to invent a few ambiguous jeux de mots for the prologue of his poem. Riddles that seem to remain unanswered at this point, however!

13. Ximo Company, Clara Lopez, Marina Bellmunt, Isidre Puig, Eloi de Tera, The Pantocrator of Sant Climent de Taüll: the light of Europe, English ed., (Lleida, 2016). An erudite theologian and art historian like Company is certainly qualified to address the message of St Climent. We find it rather suspect that the grail myth is not even brought up, which warrants additional research of his ties to the Bishop of Lleida and questions why he is so compassionate with Cain?

14.  From our point of view, as "history detectives", the Tetramorph and the many wings and eyes seem to be limited to Ezekiel and the astrological features of the prophecies. Wolfram's adapation of Chrétien's poem features the planetary positions as a major aspect of the grail myth, and even claims that the grail empowers the phoenix. That two birds are depicted with a chalice at Santa Maria, as we have shown above, could be a factual link to the birth of Jesus while the three stars would add the spiritual aspects. Based on our findings, see link, the "peacock" at the upper left of the apsis at St Climent would be the phoenix that links to pope Clement who introduced the magic of this bird to Christianity. If we are right, the German poet sat before Mary as well and celebrated her as his mysterious muse "Lady Adventure" (frou âventiure) in the poem, and later credited "Meister Kyot" (laschantiure) for adding the magic and astrology, who may have been Michael Scot. True or false, there is persuasive evidence that the poets interpreted Ramon's message accordingly.

15. Company et al, (see above, No.13), p. 39. Their chart with the numerical identifications, p. 34, confuses the symbolism and has Luke with the eagle and John with a bull. We should add that the whole idea of the Tetramorph, of winged creatures that symbolize the alleged authors of the synoptic gospels as winged creatures with animal features, is quite incomprehensible for non-believers. This was adopted by the Church in the fourth century and may have been an attempt to validate Ezekiel and eliminate the phoenix legends.

16. According to Chrétien, the sword is covered by a scabbard of fancy Venetian gold-brocade, see link.

17. The birds are clearly marked ¨PAVO¨, which identifies them as turkeys in modern Spanish, but it used to be a peacock, a bird from Asia. This makes it difficult for us to call it an ambiguity, but why were signs of the Zodiac depicted at the church, which Peter Hubert has documented, (see above, No. 7, p. 68)? And why is there a peacock in the far upper left of Sant Climent, see 33 on the chart, which we haven´t been able to verify on site? If Company is not confusing the two churches, as he did with Luke and John, the duality is rather meaningful!

18.  Goering (see above No.2),  pp. 90-91. He offers the Latin text and an English translation.

19. Elaine Pagels, The gnostic Paul: gnostic exegesis of the Pauline letters, (Philadelphia, 1975). The noted scholar offers solid evidence for a "secret wisdom" that existed before the birth of Christ, suggesting that the first Christians had some unrecognized Gnostic beliefs, including St Paul and pope Clemens.

20.  Although the digital recreations are a valuable tool for scholars, they the magical mystery of the art work. We can only hope that the Disneyland effect of the photographs is not repeated at the sites. 

21. Chrétien vv. 3225-3229: “Atot le graal qu’ele tint, Une si granz clartez i vint Qu’ausi perdirent les chandoiles Lor clarté come les estoiles Quant li solauz lievre ou la lune.”

 

 

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