Tag Archives: ad orientem

Reflection: Solar Iconography

Walking day in and day out for hours on end a Pilgrim experiences the intensity of the sun. It is so strong that a Pilgrim must keep drinking water to avoid dehydration, and applying sunscreen, which offers protection. However when I walked into the cathedral at Leon all of a sudden the sun took on a mystical dimension. The cathedral is built on an east-west orientation with the altar at the eastern apse so priest and people alike face the Risen Lord at the celebration of the Mass. They literally pray ad orientem facing the rising sun. The sun draws the whole universe in the praise of God who dwells in Inaccessible Light. Therefore the light from the sun is the closest things to the Celestial Jerusalem where God lives in inaccessible light, hidden from human eyes. As the day moves forward the sun then illuminates the southern wall of the nave with the warm colors of the saints and doctors of the church. The light from the southern side figures illuminates the north wall of the nave where the prophets are depicted with dark blues because the prophets did not experience the Light but advanced towards the Light because their prophecies held the mystery of Christ the Light revealed in these last days in the mystery of the Incarnation. Each morning as we start our walk in the darkness we anticipated the beauty of the eastern skies. Lumen Christi! Light of Christ! Deo Gratias