Who is depicted in that stained glass window? What is the significance of those geometric figures? Why are there fierce-looking beasts carved amidst all that beauty? Is there a deeper purpose behind the play of light and space in the nave? Why is there a pelican on the lectern and ornate foliage on the pillars? The largely illiterate medieval audience could read the symbols of churches and cathedrals and recognise the meanings and stories deliberately encoded into them. For worshippers these were places of religious education and an awe-inspiring feast that satisfied both the senses and the soul. Today, in an age less attuned to iconography, such places of worship are often seen merely as magnificent works of architecture. This book restores the lost spiritual meaning of these fine and fascinating buildings.The Secret Language of Churches & Cathedrals provides a three-part illustrated key by which modern visitors can understand the layout, fabric and decorative symbolism of Christian sacred structures - thereby bringing back to life their original atmosphere of awe and sanctity.
Richard Stemp studied Natural Sciences and History of Art at the University of Cambridge, and has a Ph.D in Italian Renaissance sculpture. After a year at the Academy of Live and Recorded Arts, he now divides his time between art history and acting. He teaches in London for the National Gallery, Tate and Buckingham Palace, as well as on site in museums and churches across Italy for Art History Abroad. He wrote and presented the TV series "Art in the National Gallery" and "Tate Modern" for Channel 4 in the United Kingdom and is the author of several books, including The Secret Language of the Renaissance.