Visit the school of Romanesque beauty
To quote the words of Jean Scot Erigène, speaking in the 9th century, ‘whether a question of arithmetic, geometry, music, or astronomy, man can only discover the laws of harmony; he cannot invent them’. The building is in the image of precisely this harmony that its builders strove to re-transcribe in the microcosm of the church. Beauty seems to emanate completely naturally from the building. The path of artistic experience is the fast track towards sampling the unity of Romanesque beauty. Within this aesthetic emotion, in the space of a second, the body, heart, sensitivity and understanding, all perfectly in tune with each other, come together with all their essence to experience and perceive reality in all its dimensions, and ultimately, to detect the extraordinary vibration of the universe, the universe that medieval man perceives as made in the image of God, who created it ‘in order, symmetry and beauty’. ‘The need for grace that our utilitarian society feels so desperately is as great and as essential as the air that we breathe. Art, that is to say the spiritual implementation of our senses, has never been as clearly essential to man as it is today’. Dominique Ponnau.
The Visitor Centre at Vézelay : an artistic approach to deciphering its symbolic art
The mission of the Visitor Centre in Vézelay is not to inform the visitor of the theological tenets of the Christian faith. Neither does it consist in simply describing the building’s material dimension, which would be tantamount to emptying it of all its substance. The Visitor’s centre offers instruction that is neither purely theological, nor technical. Rather, it offers an instruction that passes by way of the artistic experience of the Basilica. By welcoming beauty, each visitor is thus naturally compelled to widen his field of perception. By thereby lending more importance to all the things he sees and hears, the visitor allows himself to enter into dialogue with the testimonial of the builders. In Vézelay, this is a testimonial steeped in an awareness that is familiar with mystery, that is imbued with the scriptures and that is swept along by the wave of the faith of a society of builders and pilgrims. The contemplative approach towards this place of heritage is a way of falling into step with those who, caught in the middle of the unrest and turmoil of their times, were able to lay straight the path towards humanity and eternity.