The Basilica Of St. Sernin Essay

The Basilica Of St. Sernin Essay

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The Basilica of St. Sernin is in Toulouse, France and represents traditional Romanesque architecture. St. Sernin is known for its vast amount of quality Romanesque sculpture. While the architect is unknown, the stone-vaulted building was built to honor the first bishop of Toulouse, Saint Saturnin, who was martyred in 250 C.E. The Basilica of St. Sernin gained importance after Charlemagne donated many relics in order for the church to gain visitors on their pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela. Cathedral of Notre Dame de Chartres on the other hand is located in Chartres, France. The cathedral was reconstructed between 1194 and 1250 and is a prime example of High Gothic architecture. Notre Dame means “Our Lady” which refers to the Virgin Mary, accordingly it has a strong association with the cult of the virgin. Both churches feature a geometric Latin cross/cruciform floorplan that includes a central nave with transept and apse for the purpose of housing precious relics.

Floor Plans: St. Sernin (Left), Chartres Cathedral (Right)
St. Sernin, is considered a basilica, but digresses from the earlier Roman churches in a few ways including the fact that it is much larger compared to earlier churches, has an ambulatory and is constructed of brick, not stone. The nave is barrel vaulted and the aisles are groin vaulted. There are engaged columns that line the interior which distribute weight and are inspired by ancient Roman architecture. St. Sernin has nine chapels radiating from the central nave which were used to display important relics.
St. Sernin does not follow the traditional basilica plan, since it had to accommodate large amounts of pilgrims and locals who came to see the relics it housed on their way to Santiago de Composte...


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...g the Romanesque period.
The Gothic era was a highly tumultuous time with the struggles between church and state for authority, as well as, war, famine and plagues. At this time Europe was divided into a mass of city-states and kingdoms. The significance of Chartres Cathedral is that it is designed in high Gothic architecture that resolved the experimental structure of early Gothic churches. The architecture is revolutionary in its design with the use of stain glass and flying buttress supports and is one of the greatest achievements in the history of architecture. It also housed many relics given to the church by Charlemagne, especially the tunic belonging to the Blessed Virgin Mary. Charlemagne was gifted the relic during the crusade in Jerusalem. The faithful came from all over to honor the relic, as it was a part of the Marian Pilgrimage during the middle ages.

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