First of all what are the Mother of all Gothic Gargoyle Statues? They’re the Spitting Gargoyle of Notre Dame Cathedral Statues.
This statue is a must have for history lovers, connoisseurs of gargoyle décor and those searching for an unparalleled gothic gift. There’s no time like now to discover these fascinating gothic gargoyle creatures.
Who are these grotesque creatures sitting high atop Notre Dame Cathedral?
The word gargoyle in the Old French language is “gargouille” and in Late Latin language is “gurgulio they both mean throat. Medieval gothic gargoyles are decorative, “throaty” waterspouts! These rooftop chimera statues are constructed with a center opening inside to drain the rainwater out through the statues throat and away from the building.
These carved figures first appeared more than 4,000 years ago in ancient Egypt, Rome and Greece. The grotesque carved animal statues were made of stone, iron or lead. They’re usually positioned ready to jump or fly into action. Gargoyle rooftop statues have long been associated with evil and mischief. The Catholic Church commissioned the appointment of gargoyle statues on cathedral rooftops to encourage its largely illiterate congregation to behave in a proper church manner.
No one will argue that the statues atop Paris’s famed Cathedral of Notre Dame are the most famous of all gargoyle figurines. The Chimera statues sit high on their perches looking down on the city, guarding the Cathedral of Notre Dame with their stone medieval mouths spewing rainwater away from the walls of the cathedral, preventing damage to the masonry.
But Gothic creatures haven’t always ruled Notre Dame…
Long before King Louis VII built the Notre Dame de Paris Cathedral in 1163, other holy buildings occupied these same ancient grounds. The Celts worshiped on what we now call “Ile de Cite” in Seine, the Romans constructed a temple to Jupiter on these same grounds. In 528, Childebert built a basilica dedicated to St. Etienne, which was later replaced by a Romanesque church.
It took 40 years to build “The World Ambassador of Gothic Cathedrals,” Notre Dame, the Parisian centerpiece with its ornate gargoyle décor. She’s taken on many transformations throughout the years including the addition of towers and transept crossings.
Notre Dame with her gothic statues looking down from their perches have witnesses many royal ceremonies: The cathedral placement of the Crown of Thorns in 1239, the crowning of Henri VI of England, the crowning of Many Stuart, Queen of France, and the crowning of Emperor Napoleon and Empress Josephine.
The ever watching gargoyle statue came very close to being forgotten forever. It all started with the invention of the lead drain pipe in the 16th century. The aging Notre Dame building and its famous waterspouts began to age.
The French Revolution in the 1700’s saw many Cathedral treasures destroyed and looted. All gothic gargoyle décor fell into great disrepair. Notre Dame itself was used as a storage house for food and supplies. The church’s beauty was ravaged by friends and enemies. The great tower bells narrowly escaped being melted down. And the famous stone carved gargoyle statues fell victim to the destruction of the Cathedral itself.