The Catholic University of America


 Timothy Farina

Questions on "Santiago de Compostela: Architectural innovation and urban intervention in response to the phenomenon of pilgrimage"


Question #1

If you could highlight just one piece of evidence from your essay (whether it be a passage, primary source, excerpt from a song, or architectural structure) which would you choose and why?  


The testimony of art historian Alejandro Lapunzina speaks to the focus of my research: “The cathedral of Santiago stands as a living testimony to the internationalization of architectural developments and building techniques provoked by the fluid traffic of ideas triggered by the growth of the pilgrimage.” All too often people today view architecture as a stagnant reality, and take for granted the magnificent edifices of the past. It is important to understand that architecture is intricately linked to the human experience, and emerges in a specific historical context in response to the culture. In effect, buildings such as the cathedral of Santiago had a revolutionary effect on the development of society, manifesting in stone the preeminent sociological phenomenon of pilgrimage. By embedding faith in material form, buildings have a life embedded within them, relating to each new generation the wisdom of the past. 

 Question #2

What first motivated you to submit to Inventio, and having gone through the process as an author has your perspective on academic writing changed in any way, if so how?


I wanted to submit my research to Inventio in order to encourage a greater understanding of architecture through historical perspective. I feel that only in applying yourself in this way can you gain a real sense of the meaning of architecture, particularly in the glorious edifices of sacred buildings. As a case study, the Cathedral of Santiago offers great insight into the importance of architecture historically, socially, as well as artistically. Having gone through the process of writing this paper in many versions and with specific regard to Inventio, I have learned the need for collaboration as well as the joy of sharing  knowledge. I am pleased to know that my exploration of a subject which has captivated me may make possible a similar sensation in the inquisition of others.


Question #3

In your paper, you talk about howcommissions from the Catholic Church were the pinnacle of architectural exploration and innovation.” What do you think is the Catholic Church’s lasting contribution to art in human society from the middle ages?

 The Catholic Church was the chief proponent advancing the cause of Romanesque architecture. This style of architecture was based on the redaction of ancient roman building forms and materials, namely arches and bricks. By building in this style, the church was associating its identity with the most important empire in history. These took effect socially, and became a contributor to the birth of the renaissance. Among the innovations of the Romanesque, the one that has had the most lasting contribution in architecture is the introduction of ambulatories and apsidal chapels, which redefined how the church was used. By conceiving of space specifically for the circulation of pilgrims, the cathedral became a dynamic space, and the side chapels allowed for intimate liturgies. You can still see the presence of these elements in churches today because of Romanesque influence.