Saint Pierre Abbey and Cloister

The Romanesque-era Saint Pierre Abbey and Cloister continues to function to this day in a manner not that dissimilar from its original purpose.   Visitors continue to feel a unique bond to the Abbey and its Cloistered spaces—fortunately saved from destruction when plans were made to run a rail line through the area—; a bond of “truth” emanating from the Abbey’s and Cloister’s presence of aesthetic principles of art.  Antoine Bourdelle, a twentieth century French sculptor, painter and teacher of the arts, published the following account of Romanesque architecture and its ability to provide one’s mind with “principles of truth” on a “solid foundation of reason” through the sheer magnificence of its formal properties of design.  In his 1937 memoirs  Bourdelle par lui-meme (translated: Bourdelle By Himself) the author made the following observation:  “In a Romanesque church I feel captured and held by the mathematical principles of truth.  Romanesque building is simultaneously vision and calculation; under these laws of art, the initiated can build their faith upon the solid foundation of reason.”

What are your thoughts on a Romanesque church being able to provide the faithful, the visitor, with truths from the principles of the structure’s construction aesthetics and the notion that experiencing such a church would or could actually build your faith?

View of Saint Pierre Cloister

Published by: roberttracyphd

Academic professor at the University of Nevada Las Vegas. I teach theory courses in Art and Architecture History. In addition, I also curate exhibitions on campus as well as in other venues nationally and internationally.

13 Comments

13 thoughts on “Saint Pierre Abbey and Cloister”

  1. In succession to the streamline of thoughts that are evoked when confronted with a church, an initial response gives faith to our calling. When we are envisioning what could have been possible in the past by observing these structures we are able to believe or disbelieve what stories or historical context is subjective to truth. The Abbey as such, demonstrates this initiation between the person and the object of proof. Part of the reason these structures have been preserved and kept on grounds is because faith in which the people have followed has become influential and permeates within cultural and religious heritages. The Romanesque Church is similar to how monasteries embody the tendencies of overarching, holiness structure. I find to believe that these designs are concisely a common engineering practice among the sculptors and monks who have cherished and built them, necessarily so that they can believe in a solid foundation of truth.

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  2. People can find inspiration from beautiful artwork and structures. Saint-Pierre Abbey and Cloister provide a heavenly place on Earth that is made through mathematical calculations. The perfection of the structures and in addition, sculptures of narratives sort of give people a sense of what heaven could look like. Having a pleasant environment to nourish your thoughts and encourage learning is a necessity that we all have. The Romanesque church provides this healthy environment. It helps build people’s faith in terms of people being illiterate. Since people can’t read back then, the sculpted narratives all over the church function as learning tools that they can look at and reflect upon. The people who live around Saint Pierre are very lucky to have a magnificent place for gathering and learning.

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  3. Reflection of the quote by Antoine Bourdelle causes me to think you can’t help but be swept up by the appeal of a well designed and beautifully constructed Romanesque church. These churches call back to methodic and calculated art, creating a formula of visual balance and harmony. Such details activate an elevated sense of awareness, quality, and attention to detail. I agree that this builds a foundation of reason which you could build faith upon.

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  4. I admire any artist that has a goal when creating a piece and executes it successfully. I am the kind of artist that has an idea and ends up with a different outcome for my pieces. I end up displaying my own feelings at the precise moment no matter how hard I try to display a different kind of emotion. I admire the creators of these powerful architectural pieces. They had a goal in mind and the executed it wonderfully. I am also impressed that they were able to find something that confirms people religious beliefs so easily. Often times you hear the complete opposite. It end up resulting in people falling out of their faith.

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  5. There is beauty within truth and ultimately truth within beauty. The truth that comes with architecture in its structure, solid lines, etc., create a sense of belief. We believe in the science, the math, the thought that goes into the process of building and with that we believe that there is truth to its stability. The beauty that comes with a strong structure stands for a sense of constancy; and a feeling of stability relays to safety and when we feel safe we are inclined to be open to feel, act— or in this case—worship freely. The beauty held within a church allows one to experience a state of protection within the strong structure surrounding them, a structure built for the soul purpose of giving them a place to connect. To me this is the ultimate way to build faith, trust in the building, trust in each other, and trust in their beliefs.

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  6. The style of the Romanesque church architecture has a very grounded and solid feel, with its sturdy columns and arches. The part of Bourdelle’s quote which states: “…build their faith upon the solid foundation of reason.” rings true for me. The thick stone walls and columns create a sense of logic and reason onto which faith can be built. The sculptured embellishments of the Saint Pierre Abbey used the power of art as a visual tool to communicate the key Christian narratives to those who could not read or write. And in this sense, these adornments certainly played a role in building the visitors’ faith. Additionally, the Cloisters offered a sanctuary for the faithful to reflect and ponder, to build their faith and to develop philosophies and theologies that could, in turn, be communicated to visitors and help to build the community’s faith.

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  7. i find it suiting that they would use this building in the context of learning. they say with age comes experience and this building has with stood time due to its foundation. to build a house or any building a foundation is needed and i find the same thing to be true when it comes to learning and cognitive thought. without the basics of language, math, and science we wouldn’t be as advanced as we are today.

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  8. In a lot of architecture with religious connotations, there is a strong usage of the ideas of sacred geometry. Not only does this give a building a classical feel, but it also demonstrates a sense of perfection. I would assume that the idea would be that God deserves nothing less than perfection. Among the other mathematical ideas is the concept of symmetry which again has a divine connotation. It is almost a call-back to ancient Greek civilization due to the influence of Geometry on architecture. By being surrounded by these wonderful shapes and symmetries, I would assume that people would be so impressed by the beauty of the church that it could only be through God that the church was created. The idea would be to show God’s power and beauty even before people actually enter the building. I believe that such choices would build people’s faith and is a very effective way to keep people inspired.

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  9. Sometimes it may feel hard to continue to believe in a religion and losing your way is just a part of the process. When visiting a place that was built specifically for a certain religion, the spiritual energy that was put into the creation of the building can be very powerful. The cloisters in Romanesque churches can provide that spiritual energy to both bring back wanders to the rightful path and strengthen those who are already highly religious. The open air of a cloister can act in the same powerful manner the oculus in the Pantheon provides, an open area of spiritual light. The light that can be felt in these areas can serve to give off large amounts of spiritual energy.

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  10. While my thoughts on this matter may be a little basis due to my love and fascination for architecture, I firmly believe in the power a beautifully built space can have on someone’s spiritual state. The structures built during the Romanesque and gothic periods of architecture are full of beauty and intricate architectural details based on the same price mathematical principle used by the ancient romans. It is understandable that the individuals who visited these churches would be in awe of the beautiful columns, arches, and stained glass. I imagine that as they stand in front of the alter, surrounded by an amazing aura of light pouring into the scared space, they felt as though their spirits were being nurtured and uplifted bringing them closer to God.

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  11. Not only did the Saint Pierre Cloister turned itself into a beautiful work of art, it also completed the mission of making faithful visitors feel content and blissfulness as they reached a holy place of worship. They constructed the building in order to educate their followers with grace and serenity. Seeing the beauty of the architecture you can grasp the awe-feeling that must have overwhelmed the visitors. Cloisters are build to be aesthetically pleasing with a sense of security as this could give peace to worshipers as they come to practice. It would enhance the worship of individuals faith and thus build on an individual’s faith and create a stronger connection. Which will eventually lead the spreading of religion and increasing interest to non-believers to become followers.

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  12. Because the true purpose for the Saint Pierre Abbey and Cloister were made because of its religious matter, I like how it provides the visitor the faithfulness even today. Even though every Artists has a specific goal that they want to achieve in their creation, not everyone can manage their artwork to fully success. But for these Romanesque church, artist were able to manage its style by cooperating science into the creation to create a solid masterpiece, while it serves purpose to the people who visits the church.

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  13. The churches built in Romanesque style have a strong and heavy foundation with thick columns that provide support for the multitude of cascading arches. For the faithful and visitors who come to the church and witness the structure’s construction aesthetics, they can feel how grounded the church is. This groundedness can go back to how grounded or faithful the visitor is to their religion. When they eyes are then lifted from the column’s strength up to the perfectly round arches, those visitors can feel lifted and may have their worries lifted as well. This style of the church provides an experience that could have the ability to build and strengthening faith. This attachment and dedication to faith can be seen when citizens and followers of Saint Abbey and the Cloisters defended the church from having a rail line built through it. Acts like these show how churches hold a strong significance to the human philosophy and provide peace and mind for those who attend.

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