Church and Cosmos

10 09 2009

zodiac church

This is a series of outline drawings in which a fourteenth-century scholar, a native of Pavia in Italy who lived in the court of Avignon, has attempted to translate his conception of the Universe into geometric terms. What we have here are… learned diagrams in which notions of every sort – theological, geographical, minerological, medical- are combined according to the laws of number and the divisions of visible space. One consists of a map of Europe on which are superposed circles and ovals containing medallions inscribed with signs of the zodiac, the names of the planets and months, of minerals, parts of the body, the gifts of the Holy Spirit, and the corresponding sins, with the seven Ages of Life dominating all the rest. In another, five points- the five patriarchates, seats of the princes of the Church- determine the surface of the earth. On the site of Jerusalem a crucifix is reared; from the wound is Christ’s side issues a straight line, rivus sanguinis, which crosses the picture diagonally. Another line, intersecting this one, emerges from the lance of Sagittarius. At the center of the zodiac stands an immense figure of the Virgin; circles symbolize the Church universal, “spiritualis et sacramentalis,” with the Pope in their midst. Along the lines thus created, on the circumferences of the circles, are arranged the Patriarchs and the lesser Prophets, the Planets, the symbols of the stars, the Elements, the parts of the body, and the names of the Months. In still another drawing, two crucifixes symetrically opposed are surrounded by a rose-like form made up of Winds, medallions of the Virgin and Child, Sponsus and Sponsa, animals, Evangelists, Dogmas and Virtues, the Sun and the Moon, the Planets and Metals, the Doctors of the Church, and the monastic orders.

-Jean Seznec, The Survival of the Pagan Gods