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Title: Reading Cathedrals as Spiritual Texts
Author(s): SHELDRAKE, Philip
Journal: Studies in Spirituality
Volume: 11    Date: 2000   
Pages: 187-204
DOI: 10.2143/SIS.11.0.505281

Abstract :
Medieval cathedrals are 'texts' in the broad sense implied by semiotics. We need a key in order to "read' their sign systems and thus interpret their meaning. This article examines some elements of the medieval theology and spirituality that lay behind gothic architecture. It also examines the meaning of cathedrals as providing a center for many European cities. As 'spiritual classics', cathedrals demand careful interpretation, in the case of cathedrals this is not simply a matter of understanding architectural theory, the history of art, or even liturgical theology and the history of spirituality. Cathedrals are texts whose meaning is determined through performance and is therefore mobile and changing rather than fixed. The article concludes by asking whether only Christian believers may be part of the 'community of capable readers' in the process of interpreting cathedrals or whether we must also include the vast numbers of other visitors as part of the hermeneutical conversation.

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