Article: Abbot Suger: A Trinitarian Space, by Dale M. Schlitt

Dale Schlitt’s article describes a particular medieval church’s history, showing how its architecture was designed to express a trinitarian spirituality. Here is the article’s abstract:

This article is a study of and reflection on the spiritual, indeed Trinitarian, significance of the Royal Chapel of Saint-Denis, located in the suburbs of Paris. The chapel was renovated around 1140 under the leadership of Abbot Suger, who commented at length on its architectural meaning and spiritual message. So renovated, the chapel marks the beginnings of Gothic architecture. The study notes the chapel’s past and present contexts. It considers both architectural and literary evidence suggesting that Abbot Suger intended to create a truly ‘Trinitarian space’. The study focuses at length on various aspects of the façade and the interior of the chapel which help those who visit it to appreciate the trinitarian character of the space he has created. The study suggests that the arched roof of triangles and the side walls, with light spreading down upon those within the chapel, have provided a sense of being embraced by the Trinity and that they can continue to do so. Abbot Suger has, as his commentaries and other considerations confirm, left an architectural gem in testimonial to experience of the Trinity. Within it the worshipping community provides the fullest testimonial to that experience.

Schlitt, Dale M. “Abbot Suger: A Trinitarian Space,” in Transforming Spirituality. Proceedings of the International Conference held at Soeterbeeck (the Netherlands) 6 and 7 May 2016, Studies in Spirituality 28 (2018): 189-209.
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