lipprose Werner Nolte über mittelalterliche Architektur und Geschichte
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The repainted Saint

 
 
 
Maurice, the patron saint of the military, infantry, and armorers, is not particularly the most popular saint within the Roman Catholic Church. According to legend, he suffered martyrdom as commander of the Theban Legion in Valais around the year 300, together with thousands of his men.
 
 
The devotion to St. Maurice slowly spread North and Northeast, and finally reached the East Frankish Empire, which experienced its heyday under Otto I.
 
Maurice became the patron saint of the Empire and of the new imperial cathedral in Magdeburg. Together with other martyrs, he stands high on one of the ancient columns in the choir.
 
 
All this would not be worth mentioning if the representation of the saint had not fundamentally changed over time. Around the middle of the thirteenth century, St. Maurice – originally represented as a white knight – was changed into a Moor. He allegedly represents the earliest depiction of a black African in post-antique times.
 
 
 
Magdebg Mauritius 0472 resol 3 hell
 
 
 
 
A torso on the southern side of the choir was dated to the mid-thirteenth century, i.e. to the early constructioperiod of the cathedral.
 
The reason for this change in representation is puzzling, especially since his depiction as a Moor in later artworks – with a few exceptions in southern regions – was maintained.
 
 
Translation: Erik Eising (M.A.)
 




The Saint on the Swing

 
 The Vinschgau is a region that offers its guests art treasures and culinary delights amidst beautiful scenery.
 
For art lovers, the Church St. Proculus in Naturns is a must-see. The history of the structure can be traced back to the seventh century. Its Romanesque and Gothic modifications cannot hide its venerable age.
 
The "star" of the church, however, can be found inside: the saint on the swing depicted as part of the interior's rich mural paintings. It has been a controversial topic among scholars.
 
 
                                                     Prokulus070Naturns modAP2
 
 
As far as I know, the consensus is that the frescoes are pre-Carolingian and date from the eighth century. They are the oldest mural paintings in German-speaking Europe.
 
In recent times, the figure has most commonly been identified as Bishop Proculus of Verona, fleeing from his martyrdom.
 
However, it has also been suggested that the figure represent the Apostle Paul, fleeing from Damascus. A herd of cattle, also depicted on the wall, nevertheless points towards Proculus, the patron saint of animals.
 
 
 
Translation: Erik Eising (M.A.)
 




The Gem in the Valley

 
About 15 kilometers northwest of Caen there is a quiet valley with an absolute gem of Norman architecture, the parish church of Saint-Pierre de Thaon. A murmuring brook, trees casting shadows on the ancient stones, white cows grazing the lush meadows...
 
 
it is just as romantic as described. The place would actually have been ideal for a Cistercian church, yet the Order did not exist then.
 
                                  IMG 4987 klein(2)
 
 
 
Inside the church, which dates from the second half of the eleventh century, a time during which the famous monasteries of William the Conqueror, Saint-Etienne and Sainte-Trinité in Caen were built as well, a far-flung community met for mass.
 
 
At its core, the building remained almost untouched. Only the aisles were demolished during the eighteenth century, and the arcades were walled up. Noteworthy are the architectural decoration and the tower.
 
 
The church was cautiouslly restored, and excavations are conducted inside. Visits should be possible with an appointment. A group of enthusiasts is trying to preserve this old house of worship.
 
A good description can be found in:
 
Musset, Lucien, Romanische Normandie (West), Echter Verlag, Würzburg, 1989
 
 
 
 
 
 
Translation: Erik Eising (M.A.)
 




Pendant vaults

 
Pendant vaults - in German ungraciously called "Abhänglinge", which might be translated as "dangling vaults" -  are the hanging keystones that normally adorn the highest points of ribbed vaults.
 
But how many times has it not happened that, at the end of a great epoch, the force for fundamental innovation was depleted. This also happened in Gothic architecture. At some point, the building masters started to try out aesthetic gimmicks.
 
 
Abbey church, Bath (GB), medieval, copied 19th century
 
 
 
Those who look closely will occasionally also find pendant vaults in German churches. Sometimes they are only hinted at, for example in the form of a knob. There are also vaults that only have a purely decorative function.
 
 
 
 St. Pierre, Caen (F), late gothic
 
 
 
Yet, there is another adventurous type: pendant vaults as separate structures attached to the ceiling, and not integrated in the actual vault.
 
 
 
Translation: Erik Eising (M.A.)
 




Many hounds soon catch the hare

 
 
We don't know whether Nicholas of Verona knew this saying, but hares do play a central role in his famous hunting frieze in the apse of the Kaiserdom in Königslutter.
 
First, the depicted narrative shows the usual course of action. The hunting dog grabs the hare by the neck and brings the booty to the hunter.
 
 
LOEnigsl fries modAP Resol 0512
 
 
K lutter fries modAP Resol 0518
 
 
But then, something unexpected:
 
 
 
The hunter on the ground, tied up by the hare.
 
 
It is not surprising that this scene has been interpreted in different manners. The most popular interpretation states that the image symbolizes the triumph of Good over Evil.
 
The church itself is a fine example of Romanesque architecture, standing on a hill and covered by old lime trees. The structure is beautifully decorated with sculptures and features a wonderful cloister wing.
 
 
 
Actually a Benedictine monastery church, the Kaiserdom is the burial site of Lothar III (ruled 1125-1137) who, after the end of the Salian dynasty, managed to prevent the Staufers grabbing power (see also: the 12th century - the Holy Roman Empire).
 
The church is well worth a visit. Königslutter is near Braunschweig.
 
 
 
Translation: Erik Eising (M.A.)