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  6. Poitiers Cathedral

Photo of Poitiers Cathedral

East Window

East window in Poitiers Cathedral, dating from the late 12th century. This magnificent example of Romanesque art depicts (from bottom) the upside-down Crucifixion of St. Peter, flanked by Nero ordering the execution, with a blue devil whispering in his ear, and the martyrdom of St. Paul by beheading. Paul's executioner stands on his tip-toes in a dance-like pose, his clothing billowing with movement. Paul is shown blindfolded and kneeling in prayer. Above these scenes are three small panels depicting the Women at the Empty Tomb. Scattered throughout the lower part of the window are individual figures rising out of their graves, which may represent those that rose from their graves at the moment of Christ's death. The center of the window is occupied by a very large Crucifixion of Christ, which is observed by the Virgin Mary, Longinus (with lance), Stephaton (with sponge), and St. John the Evangelist. Stephaton is depicted from behind but his face is fully shown, forcing him into an awkward position. The top of the cross bears the sign "Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews" written out in Latin. The two panels flanking the top of the cross are populated by the Twelve Apostles, who look up in awe at the Ascension of Christ at the top of the window. Two angels flank the mandorla of Christ, their bodies dramatically curved towards him in a dance-like pose.

Photo © Holly Hayes.