Thursday, July 10, 2008

If anyone can explain this to me...

Figures at the left door of Notre Dame Cathedral

Paris_ND-KrazyKing, originally uploaded by david_stirling.

... I'm listening.

Update: It turns out that this is none other than Saint Denis, who brought Christianity to France in the mid 3rd century and was the first bishop of Paris. He was later martyred by the Romans in a government crackdown under the emperor Valerian. Legend has it that after being beheaded, he walked a few miles north, preaching a sermon as he went, then handed his head off to a woman named Catulla and collapsed. Upon that spot was built the Basilica of Saint-Denis, and the hill he traversed was named Montmartre.

So probably snickering comments by an American tourist are inappropriate. And yet the angels on either side of him seem themselves somewhat bemused and not sure how exactly to handle the situation.

p.s. Another theory proposed to me, which has since been debunked but seemed plausible for a while, was that the above tableau was an early advertisement for the guillotine. Originally there was a sign underneath that said "Now half off!"

1 comment:

c said...

... the headless member is St Denis, martyred in the first few centuries of the Christian era.