Gothic

Ornamental intersections

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Be sure to look up while exploring the nooks and crannies of the Cathédrale Sainte-Marie de Bayonne.

The cut stones around windows and other openings are exquisitely decorated. Gothic-style demands a pointed arch (that sits nicely against the rib vaults that define the ceiling), but beneath that arch are circles or foils. These foils are perfectly symmetrical and contain still more overlapping circles that imitate leaves or cusps.

The entire opening, often containing stained glass, is called a tracery. It is possible that this name comes from the work of “tracing” out the design on the floor.

I scratch my head. I can hardly imagine the effort of the tracing—much less the work of shaping and stacking stone—to create this kind of visual display.

Buen Camino!


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It is not too late to sign on for our hike across Galilee (but it will be soon). This coming January we will be walking portions of the “Jesus Trail.” You are cordially invited to come along. Stops include Nazareth, Cana, Magdala, and Capernaum. Click here for more information or email me directly at markziese@gmail.com.

No claustrophobia in this cloister*

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The interior of the Cathédrale Sainte-Marie de Bayonne (in southern France) is fabulous. The exterior ain’t too shabby either.

As described yesterday (see here), the complex is Gothic in its original design. However, the effort to complete it extended well beyond the 16th century, when the irregularities of the Gothic style gave way to the symmetry of Renaissance architecture. Here in Bayonne the steeples were the last of the pieces to rise, finished only in the 19th century. It is truly a multigenerational accomplishment.

Note the row of flying buttresses between the cloister and the drip-edge of the nave.

I shot this view to the steeples from the cloister that adjoins the cathedral. From above, the cloister is a perfect square; a grassy yard is surrounded by covered walks. That was convenient on this day. The rain began to fall from grey skies as Bob and I admired this triumph of stone and glass.

Buen Camino!


*The old Latin term for cloister is claustrum, “enclosure.” The same root gives us our word claustrophobic, “a fear of being closed up.”


It is not too late to sign on for our hike across Galilee (but it will be soon). This coming January we will be walking portions of the “Jesus Trail.” You are cordially invited to come along. Stops include Nazareth, Cana, Magdala, and Capernaum. Click here for more information or email me directly at markziese@gmail.com.