The vaulted ceiling weighs 800 tons, and is decorated with over 100,000 pieces of Guastavian tile, designed by New York artist Hildreth Meiere (1892-1961), prominent American muralist famous for her Art Deco mosaic work. The ceiling is the only known example of the use of colored glazed tile in a Gothic vaulted ceiling. The main transverse ribs are arches six feet wide, and the arches spring from the pillars at the 52 foot level.
The combination of the colorful tile and the vaulted ceiling gives the chapel a joyful ambiance. Goodhue turned to the use of gold colored and decorative ribs instead of the heavier stone vaults of the Middle Ages for this reason. The use of colored panels and medallions was chosen in order to give warmth and color.
On the rib vaulting of the ceiling are medallions based on St. Francis Canticle of the Sun and representing emblems of the universe as the object of human study: bird, beast, fish, reptile (repeated over the nave); and sun, moon, star, tree, flower, air, water, and fire (repeated over the chancel). There are also angels with musical instruments, including the tambourine, drum, pipes, horn, lyre and triangle.
Corbels of the great arches of the ceiling are formed by the emblems of the New Testament evangelists (angel, lion, ox, and eagle). Corbels of the diagonal rib of the quadripartite vaulting of the ceiling are composite, the small base representing an olive, thorn, shell, and apple, and the larger displaying a dove, pelican, fish, and lamb. Images of wheat and grape, the alpha and omega, and the IHS (a Greek abbreviation of the name of Jesus) appear on the corbels of the lateral wall ribs
August 7th, 2012
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