The back wall of St Magdalene church in Rennes le Chateau is dominated by a relief group of Christ’s Sermon on the Mount, to newly chosen Apostles, and a crowd west of Galilee, perhaps at the Horns of Hattin, an east-west ridge near Capernaum. Abbe Berenger Sauniere chose this scene for the theme of spiritual healing and ascension.
The western direction, and flowers, indicate spring or autumn sunset, perhaps from Rennes hill, with Casteillas left, and Couiza right (see Rennes le Chateau map 6 and 11). Some authors see it as Bains (11) Mt Cardou; or the Rose Line meridian through Bains, just west of the Paris Meridian; or Violets Hill between the two Rennes (see Bains map 1); or Mt Bugarach; or Roziers Hill. The scene could also be Lavaldieu hill, on the south between the two Rennes, on axis 3 of both.
General subconscious themes in the mural include type 2c Basket, here expressed by Christ; and its opposite, type 9c Lid, here as the bread bag of St Germaine, a girl from a nearby village. She used miraculous flowers in midwinter to hide a bread she had stolen for a beggar, a miracle of physical and spiritual healing. Another general theme in the work is type 5 Priest, here expressed by boy A, perhaps a future priest, Sauniere himself, with the other boy as his brother Alfred, also a priest.
The inscription below reads, “Come to me all who suffer and are overwhelmed, I will comfort you,” from a sermon of Bernard of Clairveaux, after Mat11;28. The cure requires a small task; “Come to me all that labour and are heavy laden, I will give you rest. Take my yoke on you, learn of me, I am meek and lowly in heart, find rest for your souls. My yoke is easy, my burden is light.” If St Magdalene is the woman weeping over Christ’s feet, she is a model of cure and service, since Christ had cast seven devils from her (Luk7;37), enabling her to anoint with tears and ointment. She was present at his crucifixion, a global exorcism of sins. She anointed his body again at the tomb. She saw him risen on Easter Sunday. In local legend she continued the Judaic royal line in France. Magdalene and her ointment vase in art, often expresses type 1/ 2 Builder (see emblems, such as Tarot trump 2, Priestess, Wisdom under a veil between two pillars. See the Types, trumps and hour decans table, in another post). Here her head is under Christ’s cloak. The risen Christ’s hand is now her ‘vase’ (type 2c Basket, container). The sermon is on eight spiritual blessings.
Sauniere had contracted artists from Italy to paint the commercial casts of statues and Cross stations, dictating some background scenes and revisions (Smith 2018), apparently to transpose Biblical episodes into a localised landscape ‘sermon’.
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Type label; Character (noting archetypal features):
1 Builder; St Magdalene (priestess), on one knee (twisted), weeping (rain).
2c Basket; Christ’s cloak (cover).
3 Queen; Christ (sacrifice, spring), preaching (school) spiritual blessings.
4 King; Mary (queen), kneeling to touch Christ’s garment. NO EYE.
5a Priest; Boy A. Perhaps St Germain and St Sulpice churches as ‘sons’ of St Vincent de Paul; or Sauniere himself and his brother Alfred, also a priest; or Bains and Rennes villages.
5b Priest; Boy A’s chest (heart, of 13 opposite). Transfer from a sketch to deep relief sculpture, may have moved this axis from the eyes of boy B and the father, to boy A (more reliefs should be tested).
5c Basket Head; Father of two boys (St Vincent de Paul?), with a crutch (leg posture).
6 Exile; Mother of a girl and a baby.
7 Child; Baby (juvenile) in swathing (bag), eye off the grid (common at 7).
8 Healer; St Germaine (see Rennes church floor 6, in another post), kneeling (bent forward), her apron with bread (healer) or gold (metal).
9c Basket Lid; Apron bag (container).
10 Teacher; Bread bag or gold (metal), torn (9c revelation). Wheat is more typical of 11. NO EYE.
11 Womb; Reclining wife’s midriff (womb) under her hands, probably pregnant.
12 Heart; Wife’s chest (heart).
13 Heart; Wife. And husband’s chest (heart).
14 Mixer; Husband, far out (egress).
15 Maker; Young man with an arm wound (more often leg wound; see Rennes church floor 15 St Rock statue, in another post).
Axial centre; Christ’s right foot (limb-joint).
4p Gal.S.Pole; Unmarked, or displaced to Mary’s elbow (limb-joint). MOVED?
11p Gal.Pole; Wife’s elbow (limb-joint).
Midsummer; Christ’s left foot (limb-joint), horizontal (orientation) from the axial centre, on axis 14-15. This marker implies that spring and the cultural time-frame is on axis 3-4, analogous to Age Aries-Pisces, the era at the start of Christianity. Artworks and building sites usually reflect the time-frame prior to the work. Structural layers of expression are subconscious to artists, architects, builders and members of any culture.
UPDATE: Structuralist art analyses of other Sermon on the Mount artworks, including Bloch and Dore
The mindprint in all artworks is structurally identical. The number of archetypal characters differ (usually twelve, fourteen, sixteen, eighteen or twenty); the characters differ (although some of their features usually (60% average) include one or two of the archetypal features specific to the type they express in the work; the direction of rotation may be in either direction; and the orientation of the subconscious structure differs (the top central type, or the position of the seasonal markers).
Sermon on the Mount by Bloch, 1877 (image after Wikipedia. Typology numbers with cosmology or seasonal labels, and axial grid by E Furter).
- See a post on archetypal structure in Paris Notre Dame portals, windows, and floor plan, on http://www.edmondfurter.wordpress.com
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