Thursday, 11 December 2014

Vézelay Abbey. Basilique Sainte-Marie-Madeleine De Vézelay.




English: The Nave,
Basilica of Saint Mary Magdalene, Vézelay, France.
Français: Le 23 juin 1976 à 14h27 dans la nef de la basilique Sainte-Marie-Madeleine de Vézelay, le Père Hugues Delautre o.f.m. a donné rendez-vous au soleil, à cet instant précis en culmination par rapport à la terre, pour qu'il lui manifeste le secret de l'édifice. Photographie de François Walch.
Photo: 23 June 1976.
Source: Own work.
(Wikimedia Commons)





"Abide With Me"
and
"Bless The Lord, O My Soul".
The entrance Hymns at
The Pilgrimage of The Scouts to
Vézelay, France, in 2014.
Available on YouTube at





Basilica of Sainte-Marie-Madeleine
Vézelay, France.
Photo: 13 April 2010.
Source: Own work.
Author: PMRMaeyaert.
(Wikimedia Commons)



Vézelay Abbey (French: Abbaye Sainte-Marie-Madeleine de Vézelay) was a Benedictine and Cluniac Monastery in Vézelay, in the Yonne Department in Northern Burgundy, France. The Benedictine Abbey Church, now the Basilica of Sainte-Marie-Madeleine (Saint Mary Magdalene), with its complicated programme of imagery in sculpted Capitals and Portals, is one of the outstanding masterpieces of Burgundian Romanesque art and architecture. Sacked by the Huguenots, in 1569, the building suffered neglect in the 17th- and 18th-Centuries and some further damage during the period of The French Revolution.

The Church at Vézelay was added to the UNESCO List of World Heritage Sites in 1979.

The Benedictine Abbey of Vézelay was Founded, as many Abbeys were, on land that had been a Late-Roman villa, of Vercellus (Vercelle becoming Vézelay). The villa had passed into the hands of the Carolingians and devolved to a Carolingian Count, Girart, of Roussillon. The two Convents, that he Founded there, were looted and dispersed by Moorish raiding parties in the 8th-Century, and a hilltop Convent was burnt by Norman raiders.

In the 9th-Century, the Abbey was re-Founded under the guidance of Badilo, who became an affiliate of the reformed Benedictine Order of Cluny. Vézelay also stood at the beginning of one of the four major routes, through France, for Pilgrims going to Santiago de Compostela, in Galicia, in the North-Western corner of Spain.




Polski: Bazylika św.
English: Vézelay Abbey.
Photo: 25 May 2013.
Source: Own work.
Author: Delta 51.
(Wikimedia Commons)



About 1050, the Monks of Vézelay began to claim to hold the Relics of Mary Magdalene, brought, they related, from The Holy Land, either by their 9th-Century Founder-Saint, Badilo, or by Envoys despatched by him. A little later, a Monk of Vézelay declared that he had detected in a Crypt at St-Maximin, in Provence, France, carved on an empty sarcophagus, a representation of the Unction at Bethany, when Jesus' Head was anointed by Mary of Bethany, assumed in The Middle Ages to be Mary Magdalene.




Vézelay Church.
Available on YouTube at



The Monks of Vézelay pronounced it to be Mary Magdalene's tomb, from which her Relics had been Translated to their Abbey. Freed captives then brought their chains, as Votive Objects, to the Abbey, and it was the newly-elected Abbot Geoffroy, in 1037, who had the ironwork melted down and re-forged as wrought iron railings surrounding the Magdalen's Altar.

Thus, the erection of one of the finest examples of Romanesque architecture, which followed, was made possible by Pilgrims to the declared Relics and these tactile examples demonstrating the efficacy of Prayers. Mary Magdalene is the prototype of the Penitent, and Vézelay has remained an important place of Pilgrimage for the Catholic Faithful, though the actual Relics were torched by Huguenots in the 16th-Century.




English: The Central Tympanum of the Narthex of Vézelay Abbey (carved 1125-1130).
Français: Le tympan central du narthex (sculpté vers 1125-1130),détail: au centre, le Christ en gloire transmet l'Esprit Saint aux apôtres; compartiment du haut, les Byzantins; compartiment du bas, les Arméniens; les médaillons de haut en bas:le Scorpion, un paysan tue un porc, le Sagittaire; sur le linteau, les peuples inconnus: de droite à gauche, les Panotti (aux grandes oreilles), les Pygmées, les Macrobii des Indes (peuple de géants). Basilique Sainte-Marie-Madeleine de Vézelay.
Photo: 9 July 2008.
Source: Own work.
Author: Vassil.
(Wikimedia Commons)



To accommodate the influx of Pilgrims, a new Abbey Church was begun, Dedicated on 21 April 1104, the expense incurred in building it resulted in an increased tax burden in the Abbey's land holdings. As a result, the Peasants revolted and killed the Abbot.The crush of Pilgrims was so great that an extended Narthex (an enclosed Porch) was built, inaugurated by Pope Innocent II, in 1132, to help accommodate the Pilgrim throng.

Saint Bernard of Clairvaux Preached there, in favour of a Second Crusade, at Easter, 1146, in front of King Louis VII of France and King Richard I of England. King Philip II of France visited and spent three months at the Abbey, in 1190, before leaving for The Third Crusade. Thomas Becket, in exile, chose Vézelay Abbey for his Whitsunday Sermon, in 1166, announcing the Excommunication of the main supporters of his English King, Henry II, and threatening the King with Excommunication, too.

The Nave, which had once burned down with great loss of life, burned down again, in 1165. It was then rebuilt in its present form.

Vézelay was self-confident. Its litigious Monastic Community was prepared to defend its liberties and privileges against all-comers: The Bishops of Autun, who challenged its claims to exemption; the Counts of Nevers, who claimed jurisdiction in their Court and rights of hospitality at Vézelay; the Abbey of Cluny, which had reformed its Rule and sought to maintain control of the Abbot within its hierarchy; the Townsmen of Vézelay, who demanded a modicum of communal Self-Government.




English: The Tympanum,
Basilica of Saint Mary Magdalene, Vézelay.
Français: Le tympan central du narthex (1140-1150),
ouvert pour la sortie de la messe.
Basilique Sainte-Marie-Madeleine de Vézelay.
Photo: 15 July 2008.
Source: Own work.
Author: Vassil
(Wikimedia Commons)



The start of the decline of Vézelay coincided with the well-publicised discovery, in 1279, of the alleged body of Mary Magdalene, at Saint-Maximin-La-Sainte-Baume, in Provence, given Regal Patronage by Charles II, the Angevin King of Sicily. When Charles erected a Dominican Convent at La Sainte-Baume, the Shrine was marvellously found intact, even with an explanatory inscription stating why the Relics had been hidden. The local Dominican Monks soon compiled an account of Miracles that these Relics had wrought. This discovery seriously undermined Vézelay's position as the main Shrine of Magdalen in Europe.

After the French Revolution, Vézelay stood in danger of collapse. In 1834, the newly-appointed French Inspector of Historical Monuments, Prosper Mérimée (more familiar as the author of Carmen), warned that it was about to collapse, and, on his recommendation, the young architect Eugène Viollet-le-Duc was appointed to supervise a massive and successful restoration, undertaken in several stages between 1840 and 1861, during which his team replaced a great deal of the weathered and vandalised sculpture. The Flying Buttresses, that support the Nave, are his.




English: The North Aisle of the 12th-Century Nave
of Vézelay Abbey, France,
and its Vaults, supported by impressive Arches.
Français: Le bas-côté Nord de la nef, 2ème moitié du 12ème siècle et ses voûtes d'arête soutenues par d'impressionnants arcs doubleaux, Basilique Sainte-Marie-Madeleine de Vézelay, France.
Photo: 15 July 2008.
Source: Own work.
Author: Vassil
(Wikimedia Commons)



The Tympanum of the Central Portal of the Basilica Sainte-Marie-Madeleine de Vézelay is different from its counterparts across Europe. From the beginning, its Tympanum was specifically designed to function as a Spiritual Defense of The Crusades and to portray a Christian allegory to The Crusaders' mission. When compared to contemporary Churches, such as St. Lazare d'Autun and St. Pierre de Moissac, the distinctiveness of Vézelay becomes apparent.

The art historian George Zarnecki wrote: "To most people, the term Romanesque Sculpture brings to mind a large Church Portal, dominated by a Tympanum carved with an Apocalyptic vision, usually The Last Judgment." This is true in most cases, but Vézelay is definitely an exception. Unlike its contemporaries, which tend to depict The Second Coming of Christ, the subject of Vézelay's Tympanum is The Pentecostal Mission of the Apostles. Its Tympanum reflects its unique importance in the development of The Crusades.

Thirty years before the Vézelay Tympanum was carved, Pope Urban II planned on announcing his call for a Crusade at La Madeleine, Vézelay. In 1095, Pope Urban II altered his plans and preached for The First Crusade at The Council of Clermont, but Vézelay remained a central figure in the history of The Crusades. The Tympanum was completed in 1130. Fifteen years after its completion, Saint Bernard of Clairvaux chose Vézelay as the place from which he would call for a Second Crusade. Vézelay was even the Staging Point for The Third Crusade. It is there that King Richard the Lionheart, of England, and King Philip Augustus, of France, met and joined their armies for a combined Western Invasion of The Holy Land. It is appropriate, therefore, that Vézelay's Portal reflect its place in the history of The Crusades.




Vézelay Abbey (now known as Basilique Sainte-Marie-Madeleine) was a Benedictine and Cluniac Monastery, in Vézelay, in the Yonne Département, Burgundy, France. The Benedictine Abbey Church of Sainte-Marie-Madeleine (or Basilica of Saint Mary Magdalene), with its complicated programme of imagery in sculpted Capitals and Portals, is one of the outstanding masterpieces of Burgundian Romanesque art and architecture, though much of its exterior sculpture was defaced during The French Revolution. The Church was added to the UNESCO List of World Heritage Sites in 1979.
Photo: 1 August 2008.
Source: Basilica of Saint Magdalene in Vézelay
Uploaded by russavia
Author: Michal Osmenda from Brussels, Belgium.
(Wikimedia Commons)





The Sanctuary,
Vézelay Abbey.
Photo: 1 August 2008.
Source: Basilica of Saint Magdalene,
Vézelay, France.
Uploaded by russavia
Author: Michal Osmenda from Brussels, Belgium.
(Wikimedia Commons)



The Lintel of the Vézelay Portal portrays the "ungodly" people of the world. It is a depiction of the first Pentecostal Mission to spread the Word of God to all the people of the world. The figures in the Tympanum, who have not received the Word of God, are depicted as not fully human. Some are shown with pig snouts, others are mis-shapen, and several are depicted as dwarves. One pygmy, in particular, is depicted as mounting a horse with the assistance of a ladder. On the far right, there is a man with elephantine ears, while, in the centre, we see a man covered in feathers. The architects and artisans depicted the unbelievers as physically grotesque in order to provide a visual image of what they saw as the non-believers' moral turpitude.

Vézelay's political motivation becomes all the more apparent, when compared with contemporary Portal designs from other Churches around France. The Vézelay Lintel is distinct, but some comparisons can be made between it and other Romanesque Portal sculptures of the time. Vézelay's Lintel is comparable to the Saint Lazare Lintel, in Autun, in that both show humans who have sinned.

While the Vézelay Lintel is devoted to the depiction of "heathens," the Autun Lintel shows the Damned Souls on Judgement Day. The similarity between both Lintels is due in large part to the fact that the same Master Artisan, Master Gislebertus, was the primary architect on both sites.




Interior of the Basilica of
Sainte-Marie-Madeleine de Vézelay.
Photo: 13 April 2010.
Source: Own work.
Author: PMRMaeyaert.
(Wikimedia Commons)



Gislebertus . . . began his career at Cluny Abbey, then worked on the original West Facade at Vézelay, and, circa 1120, moved to Autun. In addition, the two Tympana are similar, in that they follow the tradition of placing the exaggerated Christ in the centre of the image. Here is where the similarity stops, however. Autun is more traditional and typical of the Romanesque Portal carvings. It depicts The Second Coming, which is a popular and typical depiction in Romanesque art. Frightful images of demons abound. The goals of the two different Tympana are reflected in their design; Autun is designed to frighten people back to Church, while Vézelay is designed as a political statement to support The Crusades.




The Ambulatory,
Basilique Sainte-Marie-Madeleine de Vézelay.
Photo: 13 April 2010.
Source: Own work.
Author: PMRMaeyaert.
(Wikimedia Commons)



The Lower Four Compartments of the Vézelay Tympanum show the nations that had already received the Gospels. They include the Byzantines, Armenians, and Ethiopians. The inclusion of the Byzantines is particularly important because it was the Byzantines who initially requested a Crusade to The Holy Land. The Byzantines had lost Jerusalem to the Seljuk Turks through warfare, and they were eager to seek Western military support to reclaim that territory.

While the Lower Four Compartments of the Tympanum represent the Christian nations, the Upper Four Compartments are a representation of the Second Mission of The Apostles. According to the Bible, "many wonders and signs were done by The Apostles." These wonders included the healing of the sick and the casting out of demons and devils. These acts are represented in the Upper Four Compartments of the Vézelay Tympanum.

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