Light Symbolism in Church Architecture #11

Light Symbolism in Church Architecture #11

Pseudo-Dionysius asserted that all of creation is ordered in a hierarchy where the creation that possesses the most light is at the top. He said that creation is “an act of illumination” (674). Pseudo-Dionysius inspired the renovation plan of the Abbey of Saint-Denis’ chevet to be one that allows a lot of light to enter the abbey. Robert Grosseteste proposed that Aristotle’s concepts of matter and form were brought together in light. He claimed that form “is a perfect unity and is represented by the number one; matter by the number two; the accord of form and matter by the number three; the composite itself by the number four” (674). He said that from these numbers come proportions that bring harmony. “…man may then contemplate God through these harmonies” (674).

Floor Plan of The Abbey of Saint-Denis’ Chevet:

Image from Medieval Art from


WALL, D. R., et al. “Church Architecture, History of.” New Catholic Encyclopedia, 2nd ed., vol. 3, Gale, 2003, pp. 669-718. Gale Virtual Reference Library, Accessed 30 Nov. 2018.