Day 105 – Mrs. Flusche’s Super Basic Primer on Church Architecture (Part IX)

Monday, June 29, 2020 –

Oh…my…lanta! We’ve finished 15 weeks. And, it seems we are (almost) at the end of another month. Whew! Time flies!

Today we are going to cover the absolute basics of the outside of the vertical cross-section (AKA the vertical layout). Just like yesterday, we are not going to get into the fancy-smancy stuff. Rather, we are covering the big chunks. You know, things like: buttress, flying buttress, gargoyle, pinnacle, gable, nave roof, and tower.

Buttress: these are particularly important because the are what holds a giant Gothic Cathedral up. It is a projecting support, usually made of stone or brick, along the sides of the building.

Flying Buttress: since the upper part of the cathedral was usually just over the nave, rather than the whole building, you need something to connect the buttresses to the “top floor.” Hence, a flying buttress was introduced. It connected the buttress to the building and added support for our gargantuan structure.

Gargoyle: these nasty looking creatures are found along the lower end of the flying buttresses or slanted roof. While they looked hideous and helped ward off unwanted daemons, they also had a utterly practical solution for buildings: they are the downspouts that help funnel water away from the sides of the building. They are basically a fancy gutter system to protect the building from water.

This is a Romanesque structure, but you can clearly see the gable (triangle part) at the top of the building. This is St. Joseph’s Oratory in Montreal, Canada.

Pinnacle: at the highest part of the buttress is a sharp, pointy top. This is called the pinnacle. It has no real function other than to add an ornamental cap to the buttress, or anything else we want to add a fancy, pointy top to. For example, our bell tower has pinnacles on top, one on each corner.

Gable: generally speaking, a gable is the triangular portion of a wall between the edges of intersecting roof pitches. Sharp gable roofs are a characteristic of the Gothic architecture, and they are usually highly ornamented (AKA fancy-fancy!).

Nave Roof: while the inside of a Gothic Church has a vaulted ceiling (usually made of stone), the outside has a steeply pitched roof held up by timbers and love. Okay, so mostly timbers. If you remember back a year when Notre Dame in Paris burned, this—the nave roof—was the part that burned. Most of the Cathedral was left untouched because most Gothic architecture uses stone, which does not burn. However, the roof went up in a matter of minutes because it was all wood.

The towers and West entrance of Notre Dame in Montreal, Canada.

Tower: Most Gothic Churches have one, usually two, towers at the West entrance. They aesthetically make the building look beefy and tall, but they also house practical things like bells and stairs to the triforium gallery. Our Church only has one, lonely tower. In it we have the bell and elevator.

Okie dokie! That takes care of the big-ticket items. Now we are going to have some fun and start getting into the details of Gothic architecture. I mean, we NEED to make our Church beautiful, right!?

Heart of Jesus, full of goodness and love, have mercy on us!

from Wikimedia Commons
Please follow and like us: