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The Rose Window of Lausanne Cathedral

The Rose Window of Lausanne Cathedral


Pierre d’Arras created this spectacular stained glass window for the south facade of the Lausanne Cathedral in Lausanne, Switzerland. From 1231-1235, the traveling artist from Picardy handcrafted the gothic rose-shaped window of concentric circles with layers of complex imagery and meaning. Round like the universe was thought to be, this exquisite gothic representation of the earth and the heavens measures twenty six feet in diameter.  All of it is original with the exception of the center pieces which were replaced in 1909.

Starting with the outside, are depictions of the eight winds: Auster, the south wind; Euroauster, the south-east wind; Subsolanus, the eastern wind of the Levant; Vulturnus, the south-east wind; Septentrion, the north wind; Corus, the north-west summer wind; Zephyr, the west wind; and Austerozephyr, the south-west wind.

The next layer, at the points that make an “x” are the illustrations of the four rivers of paradise: the Nile; the Tigris; the Ganges; and the Euphrates.

Inside, at the compass points, are four circles with the four elements and the twelve signs of the zodiac.  Within are depictions of the four seasons and in the middle are the four allegories of creation: light and dark; land and sea; the Creator; fish and birds; animals and men.

Each stained glass panel features intricate imagery representing the commonly held beliefs at the time.  Ironically, it is not a religious themed window. Hailed as one of medieval Europe’s most historical sites, Lausanne Cathedral is undergoing an extensive renovation. In fact, it was never fully completed and was stripped bare during the Reformation Period. Fortunately, the Rose Window remained behind, a symbol of the gothic era and man’s intimate knowledge of the earth and skies. At Glass King, we marvel at the beauty of architecture, both modern and ancient. We’re busy doing window glass repair, but in our few spare moments we dream of visiting places like Lausanne Cathedral and seeing the Rose Window with our own eyes.

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