Gothic cathedrals are an excellent example of hiding in plain sight. The cathedrals, with their “spiritual architecture”, where gravity is seemingly overcome by the flying buttresses externally, and where walls through architecture seem dissolve into light to allow the visible manifestation of the power of god to penetrate the building as it penetrates the soul... These buildings seem to defy gravity, great masses of stone soaring upward, yet seemingly as light as air, giving us a psychological lift from earth-like mind to heaven-like mind.
The word “religion” stems from Latin religare , which means to tie up (ligare) once again, for the second time (re) .
On one hand, the mystery of existence and the harmony of the universe arouse in man to a natural and genuine feeling of awe, which man expresses through spontaneous prayers. On the other hand, some behaviours – rituals and ritual prayers – were codified by a group of men – the sacerdotal class. The priest is a professional figure, a ‘pontiff', an intermediary between earth and heaven. The word stems from Latin pontifex , which means pontem facere , to build a bridge.
The temporal power vested this class with the job of organizing such behaviours and to oversee the relevant performance by the laity. I will call “religiosity” the former and “religion” the latter.
We know that, during ancient times, it often happened that religion conflicted with religiosity. The religious hierarchy trying to overlay the faith, religiosity, for some purposes, which cannot be considered as spiritual. This practice is called religio instrumentum regni , religion as a means of ruling; spirituality then necessarily withdrew itself, far from danger, being content to speak to those few men who had “ears to hear” and “eyes to see”.
A proverb says that if one wishes to hide a tree, he has to put it in the wood, not in the desert, or, as Edgar Allan Poe noted in The Purloined Letter, the best place to hide something is in plain view. No wonder, therefore, that religiosity's voice can be still heard in catholic churches, especially in the Gothic ones, despite 2,000 years of religio instrumentum regni .
The Meanings of Esoteric Symbolism in Valencia Cathedral
Star of David
Mary Madonna and oval
One of the most striking images in Valencia Cathedral is the Mary Madonna stain glass window encased in an oval, the shape of an egg symbolising the birth of creation.