June 24, 2020 - 12:58 PM

#MuseumFromHome: Portal of Paradise - Episode 2

We continue our four part virtual tour of the Cathedral's Portal of Paradise on the Western Facade with a closer look at the eight figures carved into the north side of the Portal and are reminded that everything we see here comes directly from the Bible.

Watch Episode 1


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Barbara Kaye
Jun. 29, 2020 - 5:13 PM

thanks-this was wonderful & very informative. I have but 1 comment. I would have liked you to explain the figures at the top of each statue as well as on the bottom. For example, what is the meaning of the bird & nest/egg behind the first statue?

Tom Fedorek
Jul. 4, 2020 - 12:28 PM

Responding to Barbara’s comment: The Portal encompasses a profusion of evocative images. Limitations on length forced me to be highly selective. Once we’re able to conduct live tours again, I intend to lead one of the Portal where I’ll have the latitude to cover many more details.The nesting bird behind Melchizedek is intriguing. I have never seen another image of Melchizedek that features a bird or a nest and there are no avian references in the handful of Biblical passages relating to him. Let me suggest a way we might understand this image within the larger work.Remember that the Portal travels chronologically through the Bible, from Genesis up to the life of Christ. The bird & nest appear at the very beginning of the series. We may have here a visual pun relating to Genesis 1:2, the first day of Creation, when “the Spirit of God was moving over the waters.” The sculpted bird is obviously a dove, the symbol of the Holy Spirit. The Hebrew word translated as “moving” is sometimes translated as “hovering” or “brooding.” Of course, brooding is what birds do in nests.Consider as well that Melchizedek, as a priest in the tradition of ancient Israel, would have officiated at animal sacrifices. Doves were sacrificial animals. When Mary & Joseph presented the infant Jesus in the temple in Jerusalem, they brought along doves as their sacrifice. There they meet Simeon, portrayed in the upper rank on the portal’s south side, directly across from Melchizedek.Finally, I have to wonder if Simon Verity might not have been making an ironic comment about the fate his sculptures would likely meet as a nesting place for NYC’s ubiquitous pigeons!

Norman MacArthur
Jul. 4, 2020 - 5:39 PM

Inspired and inspirational