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SAINT MARY OF EGYPT (MARIA AEGYPTIACA) AS DEPICTED IN THE GLASS WINDOWS OF THE CHARTRES CATHEDRAL IN FRANCE

July 12, 2019

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The historical Notre-Dame de Chartres Cathedral in France

Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Chartres (Notre-Dame de Chartres Cathedral) is a medieval Catholic cathedral that is, being a gem of art, listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site. It is located about 56 miles southwest of Paris. It has 176 original stained-glass windows, of outstanding beauty, that date to around the year 1215 AD. One of its beautiful windows is found in Bay 142 in the upper part of the cathedral (see the plan, below), and it is dedicated to a French saint, St. Laumer (d. c. 590), and the earlier Coptic hermit, St. Mary of Egypt (Maria Aegyptiaca).  St. Mary of Egypt’s story is depicted in three panels (B1, B2 and B3). St Mary of Egypt was an Egyptian woman who, in Alexandria led a life of sin and prostitution. When she went to Jerusalem she converted, and then led a life of solitude as a hermit in the desert beyong River Jordan. Saint Zosimas was sent to her by the Holy Spirit; and there she died and buried by him with the aid of a lion.

I reproduce here these beautiful panels. The photographs are credited to the professional photographer and art historian, Dr Stuart Whatling (the attached plans are also his). These depictions are not realistic: St. Mary is Europeanised and is younger than when St. Zosimas actually met her. Yet the depictions are beautiful and covey the fervour of the religious spirit of the French artist in the thirteenth century.

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Plan of the Notre-Dame de Chartres Cathedral. The story of Mary of Egypt is depicted in the stain glass window of Bay 142

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The window in Bay 142 (St Laumer & St Mary of Egypt) with a plan of its panels: B1 – The desert hermit telling her story to Zosimus; B2 – Zosimus burying the dead St Mary, aided by a lion; B3 – St Mary of Egypt (Iconic/hieratic depiction with titulus)

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Panel B1 – The desert hermit telling her story to Zosimus (while guarding her modesty with his cloak)

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Panel B2 – Zosimus burying the dead St Mary, aided by a lion

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Panel B3 – St Mary of Egypt (Iconic/hieratic depiction with titulus)

 

 

 

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