Article: Gargoyles

Gargoyles: Part 1

As defined by Wikipedia - In architecture, a gargoyle is a carved stone grotesque, usually made of granite,[1] with a spout designed to convey water from a roof and away from the side of a building thereby preventing rainwater from running down masonry walls and eroding the mortar between. Architects often used multiple gargoyles on buildings to divide the flow of rainwater off the roof to minimize the potential damage from a rainstorm. A trough is cut in the back of the gargoyle and rainwater typically exits through the open mouth. Gargoyles are usually an elongated fantastic animal because the length of the gargoyle determines how far water is thrown from the wall. When Gothic flying buttresses were used, aqueducts were sometimes cut into the buttress to divert water over the aisle walls…………

But that’s not exactly what fascinates us about these creatures is it?  Where did the legend of these stone beings coming to life to take flight at night come about? Are they truly things of legend or of horror?  When people walking into buildings housing these, grotesque creatures, should they feel comforted and protected, or scared out their wits?

The legend of La Gargouille entails St. Romanus if Romaine fighting off a terrible dragon-like monster with the help of no other than a condemned man.  The creature was known as Gargouille.  After defeating this monster, Romanus burned its remains.  But, due to the creatures’ fire breathing, everything but the head and neck burned, since being tempered from said fire.  Ironically enough, they mounted the head to a newly built church for protection and to ward off all evil spirits. What’s even more ironic is the fact that during the 12th century the church was at odds with each other about the presence of gargoyles on the church.  Many said they were there, since literacy was an uncommon concept at the time, to scare the congregation into coming to church, reminding of the evils of the world on the outside of the church and the end of days.  Whereas St. Bernard of Clairvaux stated this:
“What are these fantastic monsters doing in the cloisters before the eyes of the brothers as they read? What is the meaning of these unclean monkeys, these strange savage lions, and monsters? To what purpose are here placed these creatures, half beast, half man, or these spotted tigers? I see several bodies with one head and several heads with one body. Here is a quadruped with a serpent's head, there a fish with a quadruped's head, then again an animal half horse, half goat... Surely if we do not blush for such absurdities, we should at least regret what we have spent on them.”
Though gargoyles have been depicted long before St. Romanus ever appeared.  Gargoyles have been around since ancient times, from Ancient Egypt to Ancient Greece.  But, sadly, all that I could find on the subject of Gargoyles was even less that what I’ve read in fiction.  And though I have read some truly wonderfully told, beautiful stories, what I wanted to present you all with is the facts of the matter.  So looks like we will quite possibly be having a part two to this article, if that’s ok with all of you.

I would like to dab more into this topic which has fascinated me ever since seeing the cartoon series as Gargoyles as a teen, and even earlier than that, seeing them atop of buildings, feeling as though they were looking right through me.  Which, in accordance to some books I have read, could quite possibly have been the case, since they may very well be warriors trapped in stone by day.  Able to look upon the world, yet not interact with it until the sun has set far below the horizon, when they are able to take flight and protect the world from the evil lurks in the shadows.  Or they may be cursed beings, trapped in the body of grotesque, until they can atone or pay repentance for some great wrong they may have done.  Or they could be another race of creation altogether.

Stay tuned, because I plan on delving further into this subject.  Any facts that you know, or think may help me in my research, please feel free to send it in.


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