Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Gothic Cathedral and the Liturgy of Construction

As previously discussed, my thesis and research was aimed at finding how architecture was understood as sacred during the medieval period, despite the absence of written documents.

Now that I have finished my research, I have concluded that cosmology and metaphysics determined 1) how the Gothic cathedral was designed, 2) the construction process, and 3) the organization of the workforce.  Critical of recent attempts to suggest theologians were somehow proto-architects, I suggested theology underlay the decisions of the master masons despite absence of evidence of formal theological training.  What is common to medieval theology and medieval masonry is the dependence upon a Christian metaphysic.  The importance of geometry, masonry, and workforce hierarchy are all explained within the Christian cosmology.

Given that society was organized by the Church, it is not unreasonable to assume masonry would be organized by the Church as well.  The implications for masonry and the physical structures becomes more apparent when important considerations, such as the use of geometry, are placed within the Christian cosmology.  Throughout pre-modern history, the Middle Age included, geometry has held significance for understanding the earth and the cosmos as sacred.  It follows that geometry and theology were ultimately compatible and mutually reinforcing.  That geometry was used during the design and construction process is ultimately to suggest the entire construction process was a sacrament and rite.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Lindy,

    I stumbled across your thesis as it appears it was recently published online. My pleasure in reading it was only superseded in my increasing interest in the recondite subject matter; before I was completely ignorant of the “liturgy of construction” and similar expressions. Thank you for providing the bibliography at the end as I look forward to exploring many of the sources.

    I’m curious of the feedback you have received since your thesis was completed. How has the academic world responded?

    Anyway, I hope you continue to pursue this interesting field and I hope that your thesis gets the recognition that it deserves.

    Best Regards,

    Michael DeVilbiss

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