This stone Calvaire is
Chemin de St. Jacques near Espalion. To judge from the weathering
and the clothes on the sculpted worshipers, it appears to be from the
early 19th century.
The artist has managed to collapse into a single composition four key
points in the Christian story. The most evident one is the
crucifixion, of course, with Mary and John positioned at the foot of
the cross. But in this case they are stand with three other
saints ranged around a tomb that strongly resembles an altar (see
detail), thus referrring to both the Resurrection (from the
tomb, which will empty in three days) and the Mass (which in Catholic
doctrine is a participation in the death and resurrection of Christ).
Finally, the very top of the sculpture represents the Ascension by
showing the feet and hem of Christ (see
detail and compare Suess von
Kalmbach's similar use of feet and hem in a 15th century Ascension)
between two angels.
The pathos of the crucifixion is thus wedded to joyful contemplation of
the triumph over death and time that Christ achieved on the Cross.
Note also the man and woman carved below the main scene, modeling the
prayerful attitude recommended to passers-by. The woman is
holding an offering of some sort (see
On the reverse side of this complex image is an unusual Pietà.
More of Crosses and Crucifixes
Photographed at the
site by Richard Stracke