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Topic: Design (01/19/04)
TITLE: The Eighth Day
By Mary C Legg
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God separated light from darkness, calling the light, Day and the darkness Night. On the Second Day, he divided the waters from the waters, creating the Heavens; and on the Third, he gathered the waters together in one place, establishing Earth. He set the moon, sun and stars in the heavens on the Fourth, establishing their orbits and time. Earth brought forth grasses, shrubs and trees, and God said, "It is good." On the Fifth, God created the great whales, the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, blessing them to multiply abundantly. The Sixth Day, God made the beast of the field and everything that creeps upon the earth. Seeing that it was good, he said, "Let us make man in our image." And moulding man from clay, he blew life into his nostrils. The Seventh, God rested. On the Eighth, Man began dominion.
Prince Vratislav completed the rotunda of St Wencelas in the third decade of the Tenth Century. In 1060, as recorded by Cosma, Prince Spytihnev could not enter the chapel, crowded by pilgrims. Resolving to build a new basilica, he had the rotunda demolished. The new basilica, with a crypt dedicated to St. Gaudemius, was completed by 1090. Double-aisled and constructed with white clay slate, the western transept was crowned with double towers with a nave 70 meters long. On 15th June, 1085, the coronation of Prince Vratislav and his wife, Svatova, took place.
However, in 1344, Prague was raised from a Bishopric to Archbishopric during Charles IV's reign. Charles, forever influencing the archeitecture and culture of Prague, demanded the basilica's demolition to create a Gothic cathedral rivaling the west. He appointed Matthias of Arras, who presented a plan using French colonnades and tracery. Matthias completed eight of the nine chapels and designed the Treasury above them on the second floor of the cathedral, St. Vitus. He died suddenly with work incomplete. Charles summoned Peter Parlar and his father, Meister Heinrich, from Gmund for the completion. Parlar finished the ninth chapel, the Treasury with the vaulting. He created a provisional wall to prevent exposure of the chapels, while supporting the 30meter vault. He completed Southern Tower with the Golden Door in 1392, making plans for the double-aisle nave and western towers. He died 1399. His sons continued the work for another twenty years, but religious wars and political battles intervened as the Christian world split into bitter divisions, fighting one another. In the Battle of White Mountain, Jews and Jesuits defended Prague against the Hussites and the invading Swedes. Dreams were forgotten; the cathedral remained incomplete. Sporadic attempts were made in following centuries of different designs and styles, trying to fulfill the vast area where Parlar planned the nave.
Through centuries, different perspectives of the universe were proposed, developing from ancient Pythagorean theory, descending through Ptolemy; passed through to Copernicus, Kepler, Tycho, da Vinci and Galileo. The vision altered from square to elliptical, as the Copernician theory of sun-centered universe became embraced. Man no longer lived in a man-centered universe as Newton expounded new theories of gravitational force.
In 1843, the Metropolitan Canon Pesina established a fund for the completion of the cathedral. Josef Kranner presented a plan that was accepted. During the excavation for the nave, they discovered the original rotunda. Kranner died suddenly in 1871 before the work was completed. Josef Mocker took over the immense project. Reverting to Parlar's original design, he completed the nave in 1925 with the two western towers soaring above Prague. In 1929, the provisional wall, established by Peter Parlar was finally demolished as the old and new were joined.
The tourists gawk, thinking it is Gothic, not realizing that five centuries had elapsed.
God commanded Abraham to go out, leave behind his country, family and home to travel to a strange land. He knew not where—only God would show him. God called to Moses, commanding him to bring the Israelites out from the bondage of Egypt into the land of Canaan, according to his covenant made to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Moses never entered Canaan. He only began. Today, Pluto is demoted from planetary status. We do not search for Planet X, but man's perspective is again challenged by the theory of dark matter and the expanse beyond our imagination.
On the Seventh Day, God rested; on the Eighth, man began.