Re: Re: reorganisation and destruction of irish catholic churches

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Opicinus de Canistris (1296-1351)

Born in Pavia, ordained as a priest and trained in the arts of book illumination and cartography, Opicinus de Canistris served as a scribe in the Papal Curia in Avignon. In 1334, he suffered from a stroke-like illness that rendered his right arm nearly useless, but he still managed to draw. His illness, he felt, had brought him a vision from God, and thereafter he worked obsessively to develop and convey his unique understanding of the divine order through pictures. His labors yielded, among other works, a portfolio of fifty-two drawings on twenty-seven pieces of unbound parchment. Almost all of these strange and evocative works use complicated diagrammatic frames, medieval maps – both mappaemundi and portolan charts – and allegorized representations of the human figure to reveal the relationship between abstract cosmology and the human world. As a whole, they represent an extraordinary instance of drawing used in the Middle Ages as a medium of intensely personal self-expression, albeit one in service to the divine.

Otto Georg von Simson:
The way in which the mediaeval imagination wrought the symbols of its visions appears, more clearly perhaps than in the conventional imagery of Christian iconography, in the strange designs by which an Avignon cleric, Opicinus de Canistris, sought to represent the Christian cosmos. While he represents the universal Church as edificium templi Dei, he blends the female allegory of Ecclesia into a geometrical pattern that looks much like the ground plan of a church and helps one understand how the mediaeval mind envisaged the symbolic relation between the temple and the shape of man. Opicinus was an eccentric; his drawings can hardly claim to be works of art. They are nevertheless characteristic of the mode by which the Middle Ages created its symbols.

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