MEDIEVAL SCULPTOR, French
(active 1125-1130 at Vézelay)
Basilique Sainte-Marie-Madeleine, Vézelay
At the beginning of one of the four main pilgrimage routes to Santiago de Compostela, Vézelay was the place where innumerable pilgrims gathered in order to start their journey together. Due to the legend that the relics of Mary Magdalen were kept there, Vézelay itself became a destination for pilgrimage, and it gained papal recognition in 1103. In 1104, a new church dedicated to Mary Magdalen was built, but it was destroyed by fire in 1120. Afterwards another new church was built, to which a narthex was added around 1140-50.
In the tympanum of the main portal Christ is enthroned in a mandorla with his legs twisted to the left. On either side, beneath his outstretched arms, sit the Apostles holding books and in the process of receiving the Holy Spirit, represented by rays coming from Christ's fingers.