The smaller tympanums

The risen Christ appears to the disciples of Emmaus.

The smaller tympanum of the north west side portal in the narthex has three scenes represented on its lintel.

It shows, from left to right, Christ meeting two disciples from Emmaus who do not recognize him. He catches up with them and begins to journey with them, all the while giving them explanations from the Scriptures about the events they have just experienced.

At the centre of the lintel the disciples recognize Christ as he breaks bread during the supper.

The architecture of the hostel has the form of a cul-de-four.

After Jesus has disappeared , the two disciples head joyously to Jerusalem to tell the other disciples of the risen Christ.

The episode also recalls and symbolizes the different stages in the celebration of Mass (listening to the Word of God, celebrating the Eucharist, sending out to mission)

The upper register shows the Ascension of Christ.

Jesus surrounded by his eleven apostles (the traitor Judas has already hanged himself) begins his ascension into heaven, as can be seen from the pleats of his robe. As for the disciples, the men from Galilee, they are invited by an angel to go back to Jerusalem to receive the Holy Spirit as promised by Jesus.

The same theme is illustrated by the great tympanum. 

 

The nativity of Jesus

The smaller tympanum of the south west side portal in the narthex is entirely dedicated to the nativity of Jesus.

Three scenes are represented on the lintel: the Annunciation, the Visitation and the Nativity itself. An angel announces the birth of Jesus to Mary, Mary visits her cousin Elisabeth and three shepherds called out by an angel who shows them the direction of the Crib are ready to go and visit the place where Mary and the child Jesus –warmed by an ox- are resting while a midwife and a concerned Joseph watch over them.

The scene takes place in a cave. Its symbolic form is that of a cul-de-four.

Above the scene a star, symbolized by a flower, is shining, illuminated by the beam of light coming from the window which the sculptor skilfully managed to focus on it.

The double arch of leaf work and rosettes that completes the portal casts a shadow that enhances contrast.

The space above shows the Adoration of the Magi. They bring their treasures to offer them to the King of Kings, the Prince of Wisdom sitting enthroned on Mary’s knees who presents Him for the veneration of all people.

The whole scene symbolizes the incarnation of Jesus, the Son of God Incarnate, coming to this world, the world of men.  

Fr. JB