The Tympanum

The tympanum of the abbey church portal: the Apocalypse of St. Jean

The portal of the abbey church shelters a sculptural ensemble from the beginning of the 12th century of rare splendour. Classified by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site under the name of the Road to Santiago de Compostela, the tympanum offers the vision of

The divine revelation recounted by St. John in the text of the Apocalypse is here interpreted with exceptional sensitivity. The movement of the ensemble is ascendant. Ascension towards an ideal: the redemption of souls through faith, prayer and penitence for admission into the eternal afterlife.

In its moral range, the Christ in Majesty is carried by angels and accompanied by symbols of the evangelists. Surrounded by the 24 elders of the Apocalypse, who praise him with their songs and music, Christ leads the way. Towards heaven everything is taut, the floral motifs fan out, the animal kingdom participates in the ascension while men, free, have the choice between Evil—represented on the left of the portal by the parable of Lazarus and the wicked rich man—and Good, represented on the right of the entrance by episodes from the life of Christ.

The richness of this expression does not tire the eyes. Such a variety of postures, such a diversity of expressions! An expression of the sacred and the “first Romanesque masterpiece”, the tympanum of Moissac begins André Malraux’s aesthetic reflection upon sacred art. A work of genius, the tympanum also offers to musical archaeology fabulous insights regarding stringed instruments

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