Accommodation of Romanesque Church Architecture to the Pilgrim

Topics: Basilica, Apse, Church architecture Pages: 2 (613 words) Published: January 8, 2006
Prior to the eleventh century the only people who made pilgrimages were remorseful Christians who had to atone for their sins. Because of this, there was no need for huge churches because they didn't need to accommodate mass numbers of people. However, the eleventh century brought an established need for any devoted Christian to make a pilgrimage. (Adams, 379) Romanesque church architecture flourished at approximately the same time as the eruption of these pilgrimages. Due to this, the Romanesque architects had to construct churches big enough for the abundance of pilgrims. (Adams, 382) These churches also had to accommodate the community of monks, whose numbers were probably still on the increase, to assemble for the divine office seven times per day. (Bultez, D.) Sainte-Foy is one of the earliest surviving examples of a Romanesque style pilgrimage church. That is, a church designed specifically to accommodate visiting pilgrims. (Peterson). It is basically an expansion of the Early Christian basilica church, such as Old Saint Peters Basilica. The former aisles on either side of the nave were extended around the transept and apse to form an ambulatory aisle circling the perimeter of the church (Adams, 383). This permitted the pilgrim to circumambulate the entire church without entering the central vessel, leaving the monks undisturbed access to the main altar in the choir (Rice). The nave and two transept arms are capable of holding hundreds of faithful pilgrims who may all see the priest officiating on the main altar located underneath the crossing. (Bultez, D.) A very prominent feature in many Romanesque churches is the radiating chapel. In the Abbey Church of Sainte Foy, there are 3 small radiating chapels around the main apse and two chapels of unequal size added to the east side of both transept arms (Adams, 383). These smaller chapels were dedicated to saints and the Madonna (Zurakowski, D).

In addition to the major architectural changes, the early...

Bibliography: 1. Adams, L.S. (2002). Art Across Time. New York, NY: McGraw - Hill
2. Bultez, Delange and Sarah (
3. Rice University (1994) (
4. Zurakowski, Dominik (1996). (
5. Peterson, Alan.Coconino Community College, 1997. (
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