The builders of Gothic cathedrals

The builders of Gothic cathedrals

The origins of the spiritual search

Historian Christian Jacques in the book “the Message of the builders of the cathedrals” writes about the medieval master masons: “there is No romanticism in extremely harsh work these people, no exaggerated sentimentality constant routine construction projects. A spiritual search for them — everyday an adventure, a battle to reveal their true nature, to know yourself through the truth of architecture, sculpture and the mastery of professional skills”.

The origins of this spiritual quest, this active spiritual life to be found in the monasteries of that time. They at the end of the Millennium have become true Islands of wisdom in the midst of the universal ignorance, that they retain the pearls of ancient knowledge, tradition for thousands of years. Behind the high walls of their cloisters the monks studied rhetoric, mathematics, astrology, alchemy and other ancient Sciences, created a new model of life, free from obscurantism and religious dogmas. The true image of a monk from that era is very far from modern ideas of it as an “opitanha mysticism.” All the efforts of these people were focused on internal search, backed by the rigor of daily work. And the monks of the Cistercian Abbey in Cluny is the most famous creators of model rules of life of the brotherhood.

By connecting the ideal of the Monk with the ideal of the Craftsman was born a Builder — the person taking the student to master. School of the builders of the cathedrals, first in Chartres, then in Paris and finally, throughout Europe, and gave the world the great Gulf that lay between the guilds and fraternities of craftsmen masters.

A tool in the hands of God

The Notre Dame Cathedral in Reims,

France, after 1254

The Builder invents nothing, he is the guide of divine laws on earth, a modest link in the chain of those who transmits Wisdom. Spiritual ties and joint work unite many hands, hearts and voices — from the artist who creates the plans and manages the Cathedral building, to the student who hews stone. Becoming mediators between God and the world, the master and the student realize on earth the divine plan and thus sacralised Nature. They become a tool in the hands of God. But, in order for the divine light passed freely through man and are manifest in the works of his hands, he needs to reach inner purity, to eliminate the “opacity” rooted in personal aspirations and coarse instincts, i.e. to change, to forget yourself, the “I”. The real Builder knows that he is a spiritual tool and that the value of his works surpasses his own; that it Case, his true essence. Prayer of the Builder — in work and in the transformation of matter.

The spirit of the work

Art is sacred in nature, since its task is to reproduce on earth the divine model. Every object created by human hand, becomes a part and continuation of the Creation.

But, according to an old parable, there are those who just by their labor earns his bread, blindly hews the stone, and there are those who build the Cathedral. The virtues of the master and the understanding why it works, the awareness of the highest goal of his work is attached to the object of labour and every action a sacred character. Matter forms, as forms of matter when working with her. Whatever means might be used to create the works, the spirit hidden in matter, opens and is given to a student only if he won a victory over his own nature. Such connection of external efforts and internal search allows you to turn any work into a daily ritual. For the builders of the cathedrals of the work was of a religious rite, and hammering on the stones resembled the beating of a huge heart and symbolized the Spirit descending and incarnating in the Cathedral.

Masters and students jointly participated in the ritual of Creation.

The brotherhood

Separate from the secular and political life, open to all who accepted his rules and statutes, the United brotherhood of people who love the same ideal. Any person wishing to become a member of the brotherhood, was subjected to a severe test: he had to perform the dirtiest and hardest work, and older students constantly showered him with ridicule offensive. So checked his will, patience, persistence and authenticity of the intentions.

Becoming a disciple, the man had to comprehend the basics of the craft, to study geometry, astronomy, music, and rigorously observe the laws of the fraternity.

“Grammar school”, “Music”, “Astronomy”, Geometry and Arithmetic”.

Luca Robbia case. Reliefs from the wall of the Campanile. Florence, Museo Dell’ Opera del Duomo, 1437

At the head of the brotherhood of builders stood the Master. He was respected not because of personal qualities and virtues of the soul, professional experience and the critical role that he played in the brotherhood. His main duty, besides the General organization of the work and approval of plans, was caring for the spiritual development of all its students.

The discipline was harsh. Who broke it were punished with all severity. For a serious offense — for example, for the unveiling ceremonies or disclosure of the mysteries of the craft — the man permanently expelled from the brotherhood.

The stained glass Windows of Notre Dame Cathedral in Chartres, France, XII-XIII century.

Becoming a disciple, the person should have kept in the deepest of secret knowledge that was revealed to him the master, and certain internal regulations of the brotherhood. However, this was done not to hide the teachings, and to keep it as clean as possible and avoid distortion due to improper transfer. Only those who successfully passed all the tests, earned the trust of members of the brotherhood and other people, began to teach, to impart knowledge and wisdom to others.

In the Golden period of the construction of Gothic cathedrals religious and secular authorities contributed to the activities of fraternities, monastic and knightly orders, but after a while things started to interfere with this divine creative impulse. The development of trade, concern about the benefits, performance trademotion affected the crafts. This disaster is, obviously, not affected the brotherhoods, but affected their customers who put money and power above God. A cursory glance at modern architecture is enough to ensure that Artists in our time is almost gone. Time has separated the leaves and the stem from the roots of the tree of Knowledge and gems of ancient Wisdom have become the subject of countless intellectual speculation, rarely associated with the pursuit of true inner transformation.

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