I’ve been enjoying a DVD series of lectures titled The Cathedral, which I borrowed from the library. I wish I had seen it years ago before my visits to Paris, Germany and Prague. Professor William R. Cook, from the State University of New York at Geneseo, who lectures, is enthusiastic and very knowledgeable about theology as well as medieval history and cathedrals. The format, thirty minute lectures on a focused topic, is easy to follow, and augmented by many photographs. Today I watched the episode on the stained glass windows at Notre Dame de Chartes. Here is a picture of part of the window (made in the 12th century) depicting the Passion of Christ.
“Why are these windows beautiful? The main reason is because they’ll attract people to learn from the stories. And their souls are at stake. This is very serious business. We’re in a cathedral. We’re not in a museum. We’re not in an art gallery. And we always need to remember these stories are what these windows are all about.”
Around the year 2000 a German friend took me to see several Romanesque and Baroque churches in and near Munich and Augsburg. I remember how disappointed I was that the focus was solely on the antiquity and style of the buildings.