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Selection from ON WHAT WAS DONE IN HIS ADMINISTRATION by ABBOT SUGER OF SAINT DENIS:
Translated by David Burr, History Department, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA, and reproduced here with his kind permission.
(Note: the bronze doors of which he speaks are not extant. -JV)
XXVII. Concerning the Cast and Gilded Doors
Having summoned bronze casters and chosen sculptors, we erected the main doors, on which are represented the passion and resurrection or ascension of Christ, with great expense and heavy outlay for their gilding as befits such a noble portico. We also set up new ones on the right, and old ones on the left beneath the mosaic which, contrary to modern custom, we had placed in the tympanum. We also arranged to have the towers and upper crenelations of the front altered with an eye to beauty and, should circumstances require, to utility. We also ordered that, lest it be forgotten, the year of the consecration should be inscribed in copper-gilt letters in this way:
For the glory of the church which nurtured and raised him,
Suger strove for the glory of the church, Sharing with
you what is yours, oh martyr Denis. He prays that by your
prayers he should become a sharer in Paradise.The year
when it was consecrated was the one thousand,
one hundred and fortieth year of the Word.
Furthermore, the verses on the doors are these:
All you who seek to honor these doors,
Marvel not at the gold and expense but at the
craftsmanship of the work.
The noble work is bright, but, being nobly bright, the work
Should brighten the minds, allowing them to travel through the lights
To the true light, where Christ is the true door.
The golden door defines how it is imminent in these things.
The dull mind rises to the truth through material things,
And is resurrected from its former submersion when the light is seen.
And on the lintel was written,
Receive, stern Judge, the prayers of your Suger,
Let me be mercifully numbered among your sheep.
Last updated by:JV Date: 03/98