Emile Male was a pioneering nineteenth century French historian who almost single-handedly rediscovered the magnificent art of the French cathedrals of the twelfth, thirteenth, and fourteenth centuries.
|West Rose Window|
Through the medium of art the highest conceptions of the theologians and scholars penetrated to some extent the minds of even the humblest of people.
the artistic representation of sacred subjects was a science governed by fixed laws which could not be broken at the dictates of individual imagination.
Many medieval writers told that when Jesus entered the temple of Sotinen, called Hermopolis by others, he caused the idols to fall, in fulfillment of Isaiah’s words: “Behold the Lord will ascend upon a swift cloud and will enter into Egypt. And the idols of Egypt shall be moved at his presence”…When the governor of the town, Affodosius, heard of the miracle, he went to the temple; when he saw that all the statues were broken, he worshiped Jesus….The Church adopted the story of the Fall of the Idols, which like many apocryphal legends, grew out of a desire to justify a prophetic text, and it authorized the artists to represent it….The thirteenth century gave an abridged, almost hieroglyphic form to the legend. There are neither town, temple nor priests…two statues falling from their pedestals and breaking in two suffice to recall the miracle. **
*** Image by Melissa DeStefano