Friday, 13 August 2010

Church Parade



We took a guest from Mexico to see some of the local sights yesterday. Couple of small towns, Astudillo and Tamara each with churches nearly as big as cathedrals.

This part of the world is chock full of virtually unknown Romanesque treasures. Then to Fromista (see The Movie!) This town happens to be on the Camino Fran├žes, so is much better known. Restored to squeaky cleanliness it's really not a church any more and has been de-consecrated. Now it's a sort of museum famous for the carved capitals and gable ends, each one, of course, different.

Quite extraordinary to approach somewhere like Santoyo, where the massive church literally towers three or four times higher than the cluster of surrounding houses where today, only 250 people give, the lady custodian told us, putting down her intricate lace work to show us round.

Fromista boasts a beautiful 12th Century crucifix. Not gruesomely life-like as later versions, but with the simple power and dread of a Picasso. We must have seen 20 or so crucifixes during the jaunt.

The more I see and contemplate crucifixes the more I wonder if they do (or at any rate did, in the past) provoke violence. People looking at a crucifix and saying, "If God's enemies did this to him, it's all right for us to do similar things to them."

And, if so, what then?

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