July 12, 2017

Why We Love Our Gargoyles

Gargoyles… What was their purpose? Gargoyles have been around since the time of the Ancient Greeks. Many were erected on churches and expensive buildings of that era. Why would a church in particular put something so often considered grotesque, ugly and most of all frightening in the sense of representing evil? Well the arugement for the times was simple…these creature were placed there to ward off evil spirits. The idea was that demons would be frightened away. It was an attempt to create a scary looking creature to protect the building, Almost all gargoyles at that time were carved with their mouths open,  to appear to be devouring their enemies. It is also believed that because literacy was not an option for most people of this era, symbolism was a great means of communication. The churches believe that it was a way to appeal to non Christians who were accustomed to medieval beliefs of half human and animal. The resemblance to the Roman gods could perhaps bridge the church and Christianity to a long time belief in pagan images.

We are familiarized with the possible reasons for these mounted creatures. I now want to tell you that they also served a practical purpose… They were mounted at the end of the roof gutters to direct the rainwater away from the building walls and foundations. Hmmm, and interestingly enough the gargoyles mouth being open was the point at which the rain water was dispersed.  They were there to “protect the building” from the evils of water damage! Well for whatever reasons these creatures came into existence, I for one am glad that they became a part of the architecture that remain a fascination with us today… I have a gargoyle by my door, believing all the while he will protect my home , and maybe even invite a few people inside…