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Role of Religion in Art During the Gothic and Romanesque Time Periods

Updated on June 21, 2011
The Last Judgement depicted in the tympanum of the main portal of Notre Dame cathedral in Paris, France
The Last Judgement depicted in the tympanum of the main portal of Notre Dame cathedral in Paris, France

Religion played a huge role in every aspect of life during the Gothic and Romanesque time periods. In fact, the only piece with no religious significance to emerge from this time was the Bayeux Tapestry, which was political and propaganda art.

Due to the disease, starvation, and other such horrors of the times, people turned to religion for salvation. The Virgin Mary, who was seen as the merciful Queen of Heaven, was especially worshiped and this can be seen in the art-- especially during the Gothic period when the Cult of the Virgin Mary was prevalent. The cathedral of Notre Dame was dedicated to Mary and one of the finest examples of stained glass depicts the Virgin and her son.

The church used the power of religion to scare people into attending church and giving money to the church. Scenes of the Last Judgement and of souls being damned to hell decorated the tympanums of cathedrals during the Gothic Period.

Another way the churches got money was the use of relics. Churches, as well as political leaders like Charlemagne, collected relics. Because many people made pilgrimages to churches with relics, those with the best relics made the most money. This reflects in art because the boxes, sculptures, of whatever else housed the relics were heavily decorated and bejeweled, reflecting the worship of the time.


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      jennae639e 2 months ago

      (Just to make clear) They would not "worship" Mary, which would clearly go against the belief they had in Christ. They would adore her rather, and use her as a model of faith, and at times asking for her aid through intercession.

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      Sydnie 5 years ago

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