Cultural fertility

la Sacrada Familia 1

για Ελληνικά κάνετε κλικ εδώ

Labour as a factor of virtue

The 12th and 13th centuries, as we have already seen, cover the period when Christianity becomes conscious of its unity and bears its witness of Faith in all the expressions of life of the Middle Ages.

Setting aside the Crusades, which were oriented “outwards” in protecting the Holy Land from people of other religions, there are numerous noteworthy united endeavours directed “inwards”, especially that which we may call “sanctity through the dignity of labour”.

Drawing from the Gospel the principles of communion, sharing and solidarity Medieval man shows an impressive ability to form groups and to work side-by-side with others.

Feeling connected to his fellow-men and women, thanks to a supreme principle, he recognized his duties with regard to the community.

Labour does not seem to him as a necessary means for his daily bread, but, rather, as a collective activity with its own value and as a factor of virtue.

Two main types of groups were formed, the confraternities and the corporations. The member of the former gathered round the same lace of pilgrimage, under the same patron Saint, with the aim to help each other and to offer prayers after death and so on. The members of the latter were more people who exercised the same or similar professions and worked together, e.g. builders, carpenters, stone and wood sculptors etc.

The Church in general supported the creation of these groups. Numerous are the legislated rules of the corporations which carry in them a moving religious tone: “Brothers, we are images of God, with this thought we unite, and with God’s help we shall be able to complete our task,  if fraternal love is spread among us, for from our neighbours love we move on to love for God”.

It is the influence of these high spiritual principles in the organization of labour, which bring happy results for the public, guaranteeing the reliability of the produce. As regards the worker, his inner attitude was defended along with his moral greatness, and taking into account the material conditions, forbade the excesses of competition, preventing the freezing of salaries to a very low level, as well as the excessive daily working hours.

This period of time, and the centuries immediately following, have found full expression – we could say- among others, in the perfect monuments they have left as an inheritance to us, which show their rigorous creativity, their deep spirituality and their technical possibilities and talent.

They are the Gothic Cathedrals, works of the cultural fertility and the spiritual fermentation of the Christian world. Built for the glory of God they address man, “speaking” to all his senses, to his heart and to his spirit.

The art of architecture draws with it all the others: stone and wood sculpture, painting, stained glass, space arrangement and rhythm, music and hymnology.

The liturgical life of the Church is lived in the Cathedral by thousands of the faithful  simultaneously, and it becomes not only a house of prayer, by a point of reference for the life of the whole city.

When Faith inspires art…

…art inspires faith.

The Cathedral of the Holy Family in Barcelona is very well known. It is the work of thela Sacrada familia 2 Spanish genius artist, architect and sculptor Gaudί, a practicing Catholic.

In November 2010 Pope Benedict XVI dedicated it, although the works for its completion are on-going, the foundation stone having been laid in 1882.

In 1978 the Japanese sculptor Etsuro Sotoo arrives in Barcelona and finds employment, with many others, at the Cathedral.

One day he notices on it a particular sculpture depicting  the Virgin Mary holding in her arms Babe Jesus and he is struck by its beauty of expression: “What immense love is this?” he wonders. That was for him the beginning of a spiritual journey which, finally, led him to the Faith and the waters of Baptism.

He declares himself to be a very happy man, because he is no more a “stranger” to this immense love of  the Incarnate God, whose first glimpse he got through the humble artistic representation mentioned above.

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