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Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Black Lava

Image source: guff.com
It is difficult to pin-point the exact time-frame from which the Goth subculture emerged.  The attributes are varied, meanings and definitions are fuzzy, dark and light intersect, and there labels are plastered on people, places and things that may or may not be Gothic.  This is most true when it is applies to music, as society seems to mistakenly identify or attribute musicians or bands as being Goth, when they are actually punk, rock, alternative or other....but that is a post for another day...

Image Source: theeverydaygoth.com
The Sisters of Mercy - Goth Band - Image Source: peoples.ru.com
Where the original Goths originated, is still being debated, but there is a general consensus that they were Germanic people who had lived in northern Scandinavian regions around the second century.  They began to migrate into western Russia along the Black Sea and moved into Europe, and settled along the Danube River, near Italy. 

Image source: google images
They were considered as barbarian tribes, and harassed the Roman government for a long time.  Along the way, they broke into two groups known as the Visigoths (Western Goths) and the Ostrogoths (Eastern Goths).  Both groups were known as tenacious warriors, and played a significant role in the fall of the Western Roman Empire; yet, ironically, it is said they preserved their culture. They also retained influence during the emergence of Medieval Europe.

Image source: wiki/google images
Much later - around the 12th and 13th centuries, magnificent and imposing castles and cathedrals were built, and this style of architecture was  labeled as "Gothic".  It evolved as the result of the known problems of the existing buildings, that were originally made from heavy stone.  They were stout and the interiors were dark, cold and damp.  New, taller buildings were thus constructed to correct these problems and make them more functional, as well as beautiful.  The word Gothic, in an architectural sense, is often a mistaken reference to the barbaric events during the Fall of Rome, as this is not the case.  It does not apply to the construction of this style of architecture, after the destruction of ancient buildings.  The term is meant to show case the grandeur of this high style of architecture.

Image source: imgkid.com
Image source: gototraveling.com
Image source:  flickr

I recently ran across a photograph that, to me, was the absolute epitome of high Gothic Architecture and was fascinated to learn that it was built entirely from black lava (volcanic rocks).  The fact the building is black, only adds to my interest. Construction of this magnificent church actually began in the year 1248 and was not finished until 1902.  The highly ornate structure is massive and powerful, yet distinctly somber.  To me, it is akin to a real life Mordor.  The cathedral appears to rise ominously from the belly of the surrounding town of Auvergne, France! 

The Clermont-Ferrand Cathedral (Cathédrale Notre-Dame-de-l'Assomption de Clermont-Ferrand), took about 7 centuries to complete, as many attempts to finish construction of it, had been delayed, and various sections of the church have been replaced several times due to wars in this region over the centuries.  The cathedral is open to the public, and masses are held on a regular basis.  

"The idea of the Crusades was first envisioned here. The First Crusade was proclaimed by Pôe Urban II in 1095 and developed into a fervent ideology of conquering the Holy Lands. In the city's skyline, you can count 50 towers that represent the medieval city's churches." 

"The city of Clermont-Ferrand in Central France boasts a very ancient and colorful history.  Christianity probably arrived here in the 2nd or 3rd century AD, and the city has been a bishopric ever since the 5th century."

Saint Sidonius Apollinaris
Gregory of Tours - Image source: tumblr.com
"It was also home to one of France’s earliest major cathedrals, which was described in an account by Gregory of Tours.  Sidonius Apollinaris was one of Clermont’s most famous early bishops.  In addition to being a prominent writer, he was also a valiant leader in the defense of the city against the Goths in 474."

"Clermont hosted several Church councils.  The first, in 535, established a number of rules and regulations pertaining to the clergy, relations with the Jews, and other issues, many of which remain in force to the present day.  

Image source: wiki
The early Middle Ages were a turbulent period for the Christians of Clermont and its cathedral.  The cathedral was sacked and destroyed twice, once by the Franks in 760, and once by the Normans in 915."

Fresco - Chevalier

"The city of Clermont and its cathedral made their great mark in Christian history in 1095.  In November of that year, the Second Council of Clermont was held, and presided over by the Pope himself, Urban II.  This council, a follow-up to the Council of Piacenza, was convened primarily to address the growing threat of the Seljuk Turks, who were then overrunning the Middle East and threatening the ancient Byzantine Empire."

"The emperor had personally sent an appeal to aid from the Christians of Western Europe, and it was at the Council of Clermont that the Roman Catholic Church made its answer.  On November 27, Urban II addressed a great assembly, and called for volunteers to take up the Cross and defend the Byzantine Empire from the Saracens. The scope of this effort quickly grew into the First Crusade, with the ultimate aim of liberating Jerusalem and the Holy Land. 

"The Sermon of Urban II at the Counsel of Clermont"  - Livre des Passages d'Outre-mer, of c 1474 (Bibliothèque National)

Although the current Cathedral of Clermont-Ferrand largely dated from after the council, it is a powerful reminder of this transformational moment in the history of Catholicism." - Source: thecompletepilgrim.com

Under the choir, rests the Black Madonna in an alcove.  

The Lost Madonna of Mercy and Motherly Love

"She blesses the infertile with children and heals unhappy marriages. In the Middle Ages, she was highly celebrated with her own pilgrimage and festival in her town in central France.

This black Madonna was re-discovered during cathedral renovations in 1974. Sealed up in the walls, she stood hidden away and protected from some long forgotten danger. She is in symbol and in fact an example of reclaiming the Sacred Feminine.

Her jet black darkness was widely assumed to be due to her middle eastern blood. "The Bride is black, swarthy from her labors in her brothers' vineyards" -- Song of Solomon." -sacredsource.com

Image(s), above - source: infinitebelly.com

The earliest section of the cathedral is the crypt, which is shown above. 
The following images are of Clermont-Ferrand from france-voyage.com:

Other Image credits: pinterest, google images, flickr