Sunday, August 05, 2007

"In your light we see light"

Reading my breviary last week I came upon these words from Ps 35:

"in you is the source of life

and in your light we see light"

There is no better example of this than St Peters Basilica. Although the building is so huge, Michaelangelo in his brilliance kept the building light through the creation of large open spaces and the use of big windows without stained glass. This really puts the mood of the interior of the basilica directly relating to the outside environment, and provides natural lighting without much need for interior lighting.

I imagined it what it would have been like before the advent of electric lighting and I dont think it would have been much darker. A Papal High Mass would have been lit with 15 candles around the High Altar excluding the candles lit around the confessio (as you can see this photo of Pius XII). This would have been fine.

An interesting aside I find in this pic are the three big microphone stands along the Altar. ( Hey wait a minute you say - weren't we told that the older form of the Mass was supposed to be mumbled in in-comprehensible Latin with the priest's back to the people?)

Here is another pic of the Basilica.

One of the innovations of the renaissance was that architects used light much better. A comment on the old St Peters was that it was quite dark, and I can understand this as many of the older basilicas seemed to be dependent on artificial light for one to enjoy the treasures in them.

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