Going west – the painted church

Wales 178

It is difficult for our modern eyes to imagine the colour that would once have been present within our oldest churches. The carved and decorated facades, often covered with statuary, would have been brightly painted. Walls that we are used to seeing in mellow stone and whitewash, touched by the ochre ghosts of medieval paintings, would once have gleamed in the flickering candlelight as the frescos borrowed life from the flames and processed through the shadowed aisles.

Wales 177

It is in the great cathedrals that we can still get a glimpse of the light and colour that provided such a contrast to the homespun world when dyes were expensive luxuries reserved only for the wealthy. At St Davids, a high, painted lantern still crowns the arches of the Crossing, drawing the eye ever upwards to the heavens.

Wales 215

Delicate traceries of contrasting stone mark the vaulted ceilings of the chapels, punctuated by highly coloured shields and bosses displaying designs both armorial and symbolic. In the 13th century Lady Chapel at the Easternmost end of the cathedral, I saw a symbol I recognised, the three hares who share their ears.Each hare has two ears…yet only three ears are depicted.

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In Christian terms, it symbolises the Trinity, though it has older and other meanings that include and transcend the artificial barriers that we erect between our various cultures and religions. It is a symbol I frequently wear, reminding me of a much-loved friend whose physical presence is far across the ocean yet who is never far from my heart. Other bosses in the little chapel show the Dragon, the symbol of Wales as well as demonic creatures apparently devouring the unholy or perhaps just those who are tempted…

For more pictures and to read more about St Davids, please visit the original article here.

About Sue Vincent

Sue Vincent is a Yorkshire-born writer and one of the Directors of The Silent Eye, a modern Mystery School. She writes alone and with Stuart France, exploring ancient myths, the mysterious landscape of Albion and the inner journey of the soul. Find out more at France and Vincent. She is owned by a small dog who also blogs. Follow her at scvincent.com and on Twitter @SCVincent. Find her books on Goodreads and follow her on Amazon worldwide to find out about new releases and offers. Email: findme@scvincent.com.
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13 Responses to Going west – the painted church

  1. beautiful decorations!

    Like

  2. The best part about these places, is when you get to stand in the midst of them, and imagine what it was like when they were built by people we will never know. I love that part . 🙂

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  3. Those ceilings are stunning. You’re right that I never think of churches as places of color (other than stained glass). Lovely, Sue.

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  4. amreade says:

    One of my favorite posts so far!! The photos are stunning.

    Like

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