The crafted bodies of Suger: Reconsidering the matter of St-Denis

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (Book)Researchpeer-review


The Basilica of St-Denis in Paris remains the progenitor of Gothic architecture, thanks in large part to the fortunate survival of Abbot Suger's writings justifying the rebuilding of the basilica in the middle of the twelfth century. A material approach offers new insight into how the relationship between body and building was conceptualized differently in the twelfth century than it is today or was in the ancient world. This involved the ingenious making of both the stone body of the church and the fleshy body of the ecclesia, that is, the community of believers. As divine man, Christ was the perfect material body of the terrestrial realm. Several twelfth-century theologians weighed in on the science of the mysterious body and brought it down to earth, yoking it to craft, to professional livelihoods and to arcane methods of bakers and stonemasons. Eleventh and twelfth-century questions about the truth of Christ's humanity, such as Berengar's, made the mysterious body suspect.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationArchitecture and the Body, Science and Culture
EditorsKim Sexton
Place of PublicationOxon, United Kingdom
Number of pages22
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-315-64205-5
ISBN (Print)978-1-138-18882-2
Publication statusPublished - 2018
Externally publishedYes

Publication series

NameRoutledge Research in Architecture

Cite this

Crow, J. (2018). The crafted bodies of Suger: Reconsidering the matter of St-Denis. In K. Sexton (Ed.), Architecture and the Body, Science and Culture (pp. 45-66). (Routledge Research in Architecture). Routledge.