The sculpture workshop

When the stone-masons cut the images that can be seen on the capitals of the columns, they left humble messages and powerful lessons permanently fossilized in the silence of the stone. Each capital acts like a mirror, reflecting back a picture of our life as human beings. These images and their inherent symbols put universal questions to the spectator, whether they depict events in the lives of Jacob, Moses, Peter, the Rich and the Poor Man to name but a few.

Adam et Eve

The Sculpture Workshop: Aims

The eloquence of the stone is contained within the sculpted capital, and this is met mid-way by the living eloquence of the spectator. In the ensuing silence, images flash between one and the other, words hurtle past each other, questions are raised,  and common impressions are turned on their head.

  • ·But what do the Basilica's stones still tell us as the  inhabitants of the 21st century?
  • ·What do they tell us about our own lives?
  • ·Other than simply dechiphering the image, how can we transmit their message accurately, enthusiastically and precisely?

This sculpture workshop aims to dechipher, interpret and communicate the living eloquence that is preserved within the image. It attempts to bring the image to life by means of placing it within the scriptural tradition and the context of its own inherent meaning

The workshop: sequence of events

To begin with:

  • ·Receive : To start off with, those taking part in the workshop are invited by the guide to assemble around the same capital so as to be able to 'listen' to the image and identify all the forms contained within the image, right down to the tiniest detail.
  • ·Dechipher : The guide then invites the participants to try to decipher the capital in the light of the biblical and patristic tradition, with reference to other classical sources, ever bearing in mind the link that exists between the images and writings.
  • ·Interpret : Strengthened by initial study of the image graven by the artisan, and by an interpretation of the image made in the light of  tradition, each participant then has the opportunity to spend some time in silence making the sculpture their own, and letting it speak to them personally.
  • · Group discussion of personal impressions : In front of the capital, each participant is then invited to share their personal thoughts with the rest of the group.



  • The group is divided into twos or threes. Each little group will be presented with a new capital, which they will explore according to the previous method. They in turn will try to guide the study of the rest of participants of the workshop. This is when the stone's message is unlocked, its eloquence is freed, and it speaks to us. In this way, the stone itself makes itself heard today, and is filled with life. In other words, it is brought back to life, and so the 12th century speaks to the 21st century!

 Before taking part in this workshop, it is advisable to attend the scenographic visit, or to have aleady visited the Basilica at least once