Day 110 – Mrs. Flusche’s Super Basic Primer on Church Architecture (Part XIII)

Saturday, July 4, 2020 –

Yesterday we installed the massive front door for our Church on the West side (because, remember, that is where we keep our Church entrance!). Today we are going to add some bling-bling to the door so people looking at our Church can go, “Ohhhh! Ahhhh! Soooo fancy!”

We will be adding: finials, crockets, pinnacles, a canopy (or two!), some niches, and a ton of jamb figures. Again, we will be referencing the Fordham University door picture. It is going to be magnificent!

Finial: in terms of architecture, this is an ornamental piece at the top of a roof, pinnacle, or canopy. It does not really serve a purpose. However, in more modern architecture it can sometimes double as or “cover up” a lighting rod.

Crocket: this is a small, carved ornamental piece—really, series of pieces—along the inclined side of the gable or pinnacle. It looks like a series of small buds or curved leaves and serves no purpose other than to be super fancy.

Pinnacle: this is another ornamental piece that looks like a tiny spire (AKA cone or pyramid shape). It originally was the cap (top piece) of a buttress or small turret. However, they were later used on parapets (small protective walls along roofs), at the corners of towers, and elsewhere. On our Church we have four pinnacles at the top of our bell tower.

Canopy: for the purpose of our door, this is a little roof over niches (below) or statues. It can be freestanding or supported by columns, but above all it absolutely must be FANCY!

Niche: this word derives from the Latin nidus, which means nest or dwelling. It is kind of a little alcove (a recess in the wall) to house statues, etc. You will see niches all over a Gothic Church: in the reredos, the altar, the front door…basically wherever we can stick a statue or relic or anything fancy, we will put a niche to house it.

Jamb Figures: strictly speaking, the jamb is the side post of a door (or window). However, in Gothic architecture bigger is, well, bigger! The jamb basically encompasses a small wall on each side of the door. And, because we absolutely must have the fanciest jamb EVER, we put little figurines in tiny niches along the jamb. Usually these figurines are of the Apostles or Saints, but sometimes they will be Angles.

To answer the question I know you are pondering, no the Saint Michael statue in the front of Saint Jude is NOT a jamb figure. It is just a statue in a faux niche on the front of our building. Sorry to disappoint, but Saint Michael is just hanging out there because that is where he fit.

I think we are almost done building our massive Gothic Cathedral. There is just one more thing we need to add…the ceiling! But, we will leave that for tomorrow.

Blood of Christ, which in His agony ran down upon the ground, save us!

from Fordham University History Department
Please follow and like us: