Let That Be a Comfort: The Windows of Carcassonne

The basilica at Carcassonne began life as a Romanesque church, but after a couple of centuries it no longer suited the church fathers whose tastes had gone Gothic and whose sense of beauty and beautiful expense the forsaken Albigensians would never understand anyway, so why bother trying to explain it to them?

The glory of the addition is not so much in the stone or the art work—though the painted Pieta statue is superb in depicting the earthly, earthy weight of death as Christ’s body pulls at Mary’s gown, and she struggles to hold on to him.

No, the glory is the stained glass. A fair amount of what we see is original, meaning it’s something like 800 years old. The colors are deep, rich, supple, transparent, glowing, rhapsodic. Never mind: have a look. Here we have only a reprise of the Pieta and a score of windows.

And given the day’s events, if you look through these beautiful colors and see something of Nice in the background, may that be a comfort.



2 thoughts on “Let That Be a Comfort: The Windows of Carcassonne

  1. I don’t know if the designs are explicit mimicry, but the opportunity for Moorish influence is unquestionable. Though Charles Martel supervised the expulsion of Moslems in 732, the conflicts, favoring Christian and then Moslem forces, continued through the 11th century. Carcassonne played an important role in 792 when it repulsed and ended a Moorish advance. In more general terms, the Moorish influence that enlightened the European Renaissance made its way up the Iberian peninsula, and the Carcassonne Corridor between the Pyrenees and the Massif Central was an ideal roadway. There’s no forgetting Cordoba, is there?

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