The commentary of the cover

“You are the light of the world !” by Pierre-Marie Dumont

 

God is Light.

Christ Jesus is Light born of Light.

In their desire to manifest these two truths in the construction of churches, 12th century Christian architects invented the pointed arch and groin vaulting, which enabled a balance of forces on the pillars. Thus the walls, no longer needed to support the weight of the structure, could now be composed of great stained glass windows, allowing light to flood the nave. “French” art (so called because it first appeared and developed in the Île-de-France region of north-central France), later termed “Gothic,” was born. This innovative art, as luminous as it is refined, was to conquer the whole of Christendom.

However, the Light born of Light is for ever the incarnate Word. The light that bathed the sacred edifice must therefore not be silent but express itself as a word simultaneously divine and human. This miracle was achieved by the transformation of stained glass into monumental cartoons, as translucent as they were highly colorful. And so, the teaching Church, in a sense, entrusted light with the task of communicating the message of Light born of Light.

Here, then, is a detail of the central panel of the stained glass “Apostles Window”, executed between 1210 and 1225, in the axial chapel directly behind the main altar of Chartres’ Notre Dame Cathedral. This detail represents the sending out on mission of the brother-Apostles Peter and Andrew. May this anagogy of light initiate us into the sublime realities at play in the mission of evangelizing : it is about nothing less than engaging all men and women of goodwill in passing out of darkness into the wonderful divine light (cf. 1 Pt 2:9). How to be credible in this mission? By being conformed to Christ Jesus, the Light of the world.

 

Christ Sending Saint Peter and Saint Andrew to Mission (c. 1210–1225), Notre Dame Cathedral, Chartres, France. ©Jean-Paul Dumontier / La Collection.