Albi Cathedral Nave

© RicardMN Photography

© RicardMN Photography

The Cathedral Basilica of Saint Cecilia (French: Basilique Cathédrale Sainte-Cécile d’Albi), also known as Albi Cathedral, is the most important Catholic building in Albi, France, and the seat of the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Albi (in full, Albi-Castres-Lavaur). First built as a fortress in the aftermath of the Albigensian Crusade; begun in 1282 and under construction for 200 years, it is claimed to be the largest brick building in the world. In 2010 the cathedral was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The present cathedral was preceded by other buildings. The first dated from the fourth century and in 666 was destroyed by fire. The second is recorded in 920 by the name of Saint Cecilia, the present-day patroness of musicians. It was replaced in the thirteenth century by a Romanesque cathedral in stone.

The Brick Gothic cathedral was constructed in brick between 1287 and 1480 in the wake of the Cathar Church, a Christian non-trinitarian dualist movement with an episcopal see at Albi around 1165 AD. Pope Innocent III initiated a brutal crusade (“Cathar Crusade”, 1209–1229) to extinguish Catharism in southern France, with great loss of life to area residents. In the aftermath of the bloodshed, the cathedral’s dominant presence and fortress-like exterior were intended to convey the power and authority of the trinitarian Roman Catholic Church. The instigator of the cathedral’s construction was Bernard de Castanet, Roman Catholic Bishop of Albi and Inquisitor of Languedoc. Work on the nave was completed about 1330.

The cathedral is built in the Southern Gothic Style. As suitable building stone is not found locally, the structure is built almost entirely of brick. Notable architectural features include the bell-tower (added in 1492), which stands 78 metres (256 ft) tall, and the doorway by Dominique de Florence (added circa 1392). The nave is the widest Gothic example in France at 60 feet (18 m). The interior lacks aisles which are replaced by rows of small chapels between brick internal buttresses, making Albi a hall church. Compared with regular Gothic, the buttreses are almost entirely submerged in the mass of the church. The principal entry is on the south side through an elaborate porch entered by a fortified stair, rather than through the west front, as is traditional in France.

The side chapels in the nave received overhead galleries in the 15th century, diminishing their impact.

The elaborate interior stands in stark contrast to the cathedral’s military exterior. The central chœur, reserved for members of the religious order, is surrounded by a roodscreen with detailed filigree stone work and a group of polychrome statues.

Below the organ, a fresco of the Last Judgement, attributed to unknown Flemish painters, originally covered nearly 200 m² (the central area was later removed).

In the middle register of the painting, angels blow trumpets announcing the resurrection and the judgement. The dead rise up from their tombs.

The composition marks the rupture between Christ and the condemned, separated by a gloomy, greenish sky. The dead all carry around their necks the book of their good and bad actions, indicating that each shall be judged by their deeds on earth and that holy mercy alone does not suffice to assure salvation.

Hell appears as an underground world of despair, far from God. Disorder and chaos constitute its fundamental structure: swarming promiscuous masses, pandemonium, foetid, nauseating odours and an infernal din. Monsters proliferate; hideous clawed, flabby skinned demons arouse fear and loathing. Some have the heads of goats; putrid, diabolical creatures, symbolising lust.

An immense garden of torment, hell is represented as a furnace. Streaks of colour show the omnipresence of the fire burning, but not consuming, the damned. Other tortures are represented, the breaking wheel, forced feeding, boiling in giant cauldrons and impalement.

In this terrible world physical suffering (we see mouths pathetically screaming in horror) is accompanied by moral suffering which goes with the eternal separation from God.

Hell is organised into seven sectors, the same as the number of deadly sins. The first, at the left, corresponds to pride, which led Adam and Eve to eat the fruit of the tree of knowledge and to fall into lust, which, with its accompanying punishment, features at the far right.

Between the two we see successively the punishments meted out to the envious, the wrathful, the slothful and the greedy. The lazy and their punishment were lost in the 17th century.

The frescoes on the enormous vaulted ceiling comprise the largest and oldest ensemble of Italian Renaissance painting in France.

The origin of the classic organ whose actual case remains, is attributed to Christophe Moucherel (1736). This gigantic organ (width : 16.2 m) has been restored by Francois & Jean-Francois Lepine (1747), Joseph Isnard (1779), Antoine Peyroulous (1824).

It was then transformed into a romantic organ by Claude brothers (1840), Thibault Maucourt (1865), Puget Co. (1904).

After the study of the Historic Organ Committee in 1960s, they confirmed a restauration to a classic instrument by Schwenkedel in 1971 and by Bartholomeo Formentelli in 1977 who restored it in 1981.
(Description from Wikipedia and mypipeorganhobby.blogspot).

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Saint Hieronymus façade and bell tower of Calahorra Cathedral

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© RicardMN Photography

The Cathedral of Santa María is a catholic cathedral located in Calahorra, La Rioja, Spain.

Calahorra’s Cathedral is located outside the city, in its lowest part, close to the Cidacos’s riverbank. Its main façade is baroque. The tower is furnished with six bodies. Saint Hieronymus front, fusing both gothic and renaissance styles, breaks the austerity of the northern façade. Built in dressed stone, the style of the Cathedral is mainly Gothic, though the chancel displays certain influence from the Renaissance. Within the interior of the temple there are sixteen chapels contaning important pieces of art, among which their altarpieces, accomplished between the 16th and 18th century, can be highlighted.

The front of Saint Hieronymus breaks the artistic austerity of the northern façade by displaying a combination of great artistic quality fusing Gothic and Renaissance styles, including its Plateresque and Mannierist phases.

The front consists of two bodies which correspond to two different styles and periods, the upper one being the most ancient (gothic, 1520), while the lower one is of Renaissance style (year 1559).

The tympanum presides the door with a scene of the Coronation of the Virgin shielded by the images of Saint Emeterius and Saint Celedonius.

The door is also called “Graveyard Door”, for it gave entrance to the cemetery of the Cathedral in previous times. This explains the two Angels playing the trumpet which are there represented announcing the Resurrection of the Dead.

The second body, the oldest, is furnished with a series of slightly pointed archs which act as four archivolts shielding the tympanum and which lay directly over the entablature capping the first body. A rich decoration in relief is arranged between the archivolts and the tympanum, though the iconographic program of the front is mainly gathered in the figures of the exterior archivolt and the tympanum.

In the tympanum, over a neutral background, there is a ronde-bosse group forming a single scene (as was characteristic in hte last period of the Gothic) related to the Glory of the Virgin, who has the Martyr Saints, Emeterius and Celedonius, on Her side. The figures, simetrically ordered, are adapted to the gothic architecture of the frame. The Virgin, in the centre, being of greater size than the images of the Saints, stands out among the rest, thus emphasising She is the most important figure. This sculptoric convention was still a clear medieval reminiscence which influenced the lay-out of the composition.

The Virgin is sitting on Her throne, with the Child over Her left knee and an open book on the right, which She also holds with one hand, while the Child points at it with one of His fingers. Both images direct Their gazestowards the book. The Virgin is crowned by two adolescent angels whose tunics indicate their flying posture.

A scallop shell of Renaissance fashion, serving both as canony and as base for the music angel, is placed over the Virgin, thus reinforcing the idea of Glory conveyed by the group.

In the pointing keystone of the arch, just in the central axe of the composition, rests the image representing the Resurrection of Christ, who is standing, superimposed to the two archivolts in a radial direction, in front of the shrine. Apart from this figure, and as decreed by the canons of traditional gothic, there are six further Saints in the direction marked by the archs, three on each side of Christ, alternating with an equal number of angels.

The Saints are, from bottom to top and from left to right, Marguerite of Antioch, Catherine of Alexandria, Lucy, Elizabeth of Hungary, Perpetua and Felicity. (Description from catedralcalahorra.org).

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St Mary’s Cathedral and old graves in Limerick

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© RicardMN Photography

St Mary’s Cathedral, Limerick, also known as Limerick Cathedral, is a cathedral of the Church of Ireland in Limerick, Ireland which is dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary. It is in the ecclesiastical province of Dublin. Previously the cathedral of the Diocese of Limerick, it is now one of three cathedrals in the United Dioceses of Limerick and Killaloe.

Limerick Cathedral (St Mary’s) is dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary was founded in 1168 and is the oldest building in Limerick which is in daily use. It has the only complete set of misericords left in Ireland.

In 1111, the Synod of Ráth Breasail decided that “St. Mary’s church” would become the cathedral church of the Diocese of Limerick. According to tradition, Domnall Mór Ua Briain, the last King of Munster founded the present cathedral on the site of his palace on King’s Island in 1168. The palace had been built on the site of the Viking meeting place, or “Thingmote” – the Vikings’ most westerly European stronghold. This had been the centre of government in the early medieval Viking city. Parts of the palace may be incorporated into the present structure of the cathedral, most prominently the great west door, which tradition claims was the original main entrance to the royal palace. The West Door is now only used on ceremonial occasions. The Bishops of Limerick have for centuries knocked on this door and entered by it as part of their installation ceremony. According to tradition, during the many sieges of Limerick the defenders of the city used the stones around the west door to sharpen their swords and arrows, and the marks they made in the stonework can be seen there today.

The tower of St Mary’s Cathedral was added in the 14th century. It rises to 120 feet (36.58 meters).

In 1651, after Oliver Cromwell’s forces captured Limerick, the cathedral was used as a stable by the parliamentary army. This misuse was short lived, but was a similar fate to that suffered by some of the other great cathedrals during the Cromwellian campaign in Ireland. The troops also removed the cathedral’s original 13 ft Pre-Reformation high altar from the cathedral. The altar was only reinstated in the 1960s. It is the largest such altar in Ireland and the UK, carved from a single limestone block. The altar is now no longer used for communion services but remains in its historic location in what is now the chapel of the Virgin Mary.

Today the cathedral is still used for its original purpose as a place of worship and prayer for the people of Limerick.

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St Patrick’s Cathedral Dublin

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St Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin, Ireland.

Saint Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin, also known as The National Cathedral and Collegiate Church of Saint Patrick, Dublin, or in the Irish language as Árd Eaglais Naomh Pádraig, founded in 1191, is the larger of Dublin’s two Church of Ireland cathedrals, and the largest church in Ireland, with a 43-metre (140 feet) spire. The other cathedral, Christ Church, is the diocesan cathedral of the diocese of Dublin and Glendalough.

In 1192, John Comyn, first Anglo-Norman Archbishop of Dublin, elevated one of the four Dublin Celtic parish churches, the one dedicated to St. Patrick, beside a holy well of the same name and on an island between two branches of the River Poddle, to the status of a collegiate church, i.e., a church with a body of clergy devoted to both worship and learning. The new collegiate church fell outside the City boundaries, and this move created two new civic territories, one under the Archbishop’s temporal jurisdiction. The church was dedicated to “God, our Blessed Lady Mary and St. Patrick” on 17 March 1191.

After the English Reformation (an uneven process between 1536 and 1564 but at St. Patrick’s, effective from about 1537), St. Patrick’s became an Anglican Church of Ireland Cathedral, although most of the population of the surrounding Pale remained Roman Catholic. During the confiscation process, some images within the cathedral were defaced by soldiers under Thomas Cromwell, and neglect led to collapse of the nave in 1544.

The cathedral is the location for a number of public national ceremonies. Ireland’s Remembrance Day ceremonies, hosted by the Royal British Legion and attended by the President of Ireland, take place there every November. Its carol service (the Service of Nine Lessons and Carols), celebrated twice in December, including every 24 December, is a colourful feature of Dublin life.

The funerals of two Irish presidents, Douglas Hyde and Erskine Hamilton Childers, took place there in 1949 and 1974 respectively.

In 2006, the cathedral’s national prominence was used by a group of 18 Afghan refugees seeking asylum, who occupied it for several days before being persuaded to leave without trouble.
(From Wikipedia)

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Gravestones and ruins of St Andrews Cathedral

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© RicardMN Photography

The ruins of the nave of St. Andrews Cathedral, St. Andrews, Scotland, United Kingdom.

The Cathedral of St Andrew (often referred to as St Andrews Cathedral) is a ruined Roman Catholic cathedral in St Andrews, Fife, Scotland. It was built in 1158 and became the centre of the Medieval Catholic Church in Scotland as the seat of the Archdiocese of St Andrews and the Bishops and Archbishops of St Andrews. It fell into disuse and ruin during the 16th century Scottish Reformation, after which Catholic mass was outlawed.

The cathedral was founded to supply more accommodation than the older church of St. Regulus (St. Rule) afforded. This older church, located on what became the cathedral grounds, had been built in the Romanesque style. Today, there remains the square tower, 33 metres (108 feet) high, and the quire, of very diminutive proportions. On a plan of the town from about 1530, a chancel appears, and seals affixed to the city and college charters bear representations of other buildings attached. To the east is an even older religious site, the Church of St Mary on the Rock, the Culdee house that became a Collegiate Church.

Work began on the new cathedral in 1158 and continued for over a century. The west end was blown down in a storm and rebuilt between 1272 and 1279. It was dedicated on 5 July 1318, in a ceremony before King Robert I . When intact it had, besides a central tower, six turrets; of these remain two at the east and one of the two at the western extremity, rising to a height of 30 metres (100 feet).

A fire partly destroyed the building in 1378; restoration and further embellishment were completed in 1440.

Greyfriar (Franciscan) and Blackfriar (Dominican) friars had properties in the town by the late 15th century and possibly as late as 1518.
In 1559, during the Scottish reformation, the building was stripped of its altars and images; and by 1561 it had been abandoned and left to fall into ruin.
At about the end of the sixteenth century the central tower apparently gave way, carrying with it the north wall. Afterwards large portions of the ruins were taken away for building purposes, and nothing was done to preserve them until 1826. Since then it has been tended with scrupulous care, an interesting feature being the cutting out of the ground-plan in the turf. The principal portions extant, partly Norman and partly Early Scottish, are the east and west gables, the greater part of the south wall of the nave and the west wall of the south transept.

At the end of the seventeenth century some of the priory buildings remained entire and considerable remains of others existed, but nearly all traces have now disappeared except portions of the priory wall and the archways, known as The Pends.

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Old city of Toledo

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© RicardMN Photography

Textured photograph of Toledo, a municipality located in central Spain, 70 km south of Madrid. It is the capital of the province of Toledo. It was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1986 for its extensive cultural and monumental heritage as one of the former capitals of the Spanish Empire and place of coexistence of Christian, Muslim and Jewish cultures, as well as the place where harsh religious persecutions were held against the Jews by the Visigoths. Many famous people and artists were born or have lived in Toledo, including Al-Zarqali, Garcilaso de la Vega, Eleanor of Toledo, Alfonso X and El Greco. It was also the place of important historic events such as the Visigothic Councils of Toledo.

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St Andrews Cathedral and Gravestones

© RicardMN Photography

© RicardMN Photography

The Cathedral of St Andrew (often referred to as St Andrews Cathedral) is a ruined Roman Catholic cathedral in St Andrews, Fife, Scotland. It was built in 1158 and became the centre of the Medieval Catholic Church in Scotland as the seat of the Archdiocese of St Andrews and the Bishops and Archbishops of St Andrews. It fell into disuse and ruin during the 16th century Scottish Reformation, after which Catholic mass was outlawed.
The cathedral was founded to supply more accommodation than the older church of St. Regulus (St. Rule) afforded. This older church, located on what became the cathedral grounds, had been built in the Romanesque style. Today, there remains the square tower, 33 metres (108 feet) high, and the quire, of very diminutive proportions. On a plan of the town from about 1530, a chancel appears, and seals affixed to the city and college charters bear representations of other buildings attached. To the east is an even older religious site, the Church of St Mary on the Rock, the Culdee house that became a Collegiate Church.
Work began on the new cathedral in 1158 and continued for over a century. The west end was blown down in a storm and rebuilt between 1272 and 1279. It was dedicated on 5 July 1318, in a ceremony before King Robert I . When intact it had, besides a central tower, six turrets; of these remain two at the east and one of the two at the western extremity, rising to a height of 30 metres (100 feet).
A fire partly destroyed the building in 1378; restoration and further embellishment were completed in 1440.
Greyfriar (Franciscan) and Blackfriar (Dominican) friars had properties in the town by the late 15th century and possibly as late as 1518.
In 1559, during the Scottish reformation, the building was stripped of its altars and images; and by 1561 it had been abandoned and left to fall into ruin.
At about the end of the sixteenth century the central tower apparently gave way, carrying with it the north wall. Afterwards large portions of the ruins were taken away for building purposes, and nothing was done to preserve them until 1826. Since then it has been tended with scrupulous care, an interesting feature being the cutting out of the ground-plan in the turf. The principal portions extant, partly Norman and partly Early Scottish, are the east and west gables, the greater part of the south wall of the nave and the west wall of the south transept.
At the end of the seventeenth century some of the priory buildings remained entire and considerable remains of others existed, but nearly all traces have now disappeared except portions of the priory wall and the archways, known as The Pends.

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