The South Rose Window of Notre Dame is a Jewel in the Crown of one the most well known Gothic Masterpieces in the world.
Constructed in 1260, yes it’s nearly 800 years old, the South Rose Window was a gift from King Saint Louis. Designed by Jean de Chelles and Pierre de Montreull, it’s the central element that thrones over the transept facade, and is the counterpoint to the North Rose Window. Who knew there was a second Rose Window, right? There’s actually 3 rose windows, but because the sun moves in the southern sky, it’s the South Rose Window that’s lit up by the sun during the day, thus casting it’s remarkable glow into the transept of Notre Dame. As you may or may not know, a gothic church, when viewed from above, is shaped like a cross. The long part is known as the nave, and the shorter part that crosses over it, is the transept.
Over 42 feet across (12.9 meters) this Rosette, as it’s sometimes called, is dedicated to the New Testament. Below it are the sixteen prophets representing the heavenly court. The four great prophets: Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and Daniel, carrying the four evangelists: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. The South Rose Window symbolises Christ’s triumphance, reigning over heaven, surrounded by all of his witnesses on earth. The three rosettes of Notre Dame are considered to be one of the greatest masterpieces of Christianity.
So, what if you’re not a religious kinda guy or gal? It doesn’t matter. If you’re fortunate enough to ever visit this awe inspiring cathedral, I guarantee you’ll be moved. On one of my visits to Paris, I spent 8 days there during a very cold February. My hotel was just two blocks away, so I decided to start every morning with a little ‘quiet time’ or meditation at the Cathedral before beginning my daily adventures. It touched my soul in a way that I couldn’t possibly imagine. The soaring ceilings and the vastness of the space, combined with nearly 800 years of history, candles being lit in prayer, mass spoken in French… it was humbling to say the least. I feel honored to have touched a part of living history, and I make sure to return there with every visit to Paris. For the life of me I can’t understand the tourist who circle around the nave in a matter of minutes, taking photos and selfies, and then head back outside. The space needs to be felt and experienced. It’s not just a photo op to add to your instagram or facebook profile. It can truly be a life altering experience if you’ll give yourself the time and the opportunity.