Exploring the very soul of symbols

10 Feb 2008

By The Record

paganoni.jpgSpirit in Stone

Column By Fr Anthony Paganoni CS

Robertson Davies tells of an English country church where the worshippers made a slight curtsey to a blank wall on entering. When the vicar was questioned, he explained that a statue of the Virgin Mary had once stood precisely on that spot, but Cromwell’s troops had destroyed it in the seventeenth century. Yet those iconoclasts could not destroy the local habit of bowing to the religious symbol, even after it was gone. In a continental church there was a wall-painting of the Virgin Mary plastered over during the Reformation, venerated by villagers and rediscovered during the course of restoration. The spirit lives on…
The soul of the symbol remains long after it is gone.


PHOTO:   A woman stops to say a prayer at the statue of
the Virgin Mary outside the Cathedral of St. Augustine in Tucson, USA. Fr Paganoni says a Cathedral’s spatial dynamics, centring focus, aesthetic impact and spiritual resonance are all important ways of looking at a church to gain a deeper and richer understanding of its sacrality.