The False Gargoyles of Notre Dame de Dijon
What an amazing impression the gargoyles of Notre Dame in Dijon make, leering down at you with grotesque stone faces. Added to the facade of this medieval church in the 19th century, the gargoyles serve no other function than to grimace and gape, for each of the fifty one chimeras are 'false', meaning they don't dispel water from the roof or facade the way traditional gargoyles do. These fabulously gruesome protuberances jut out into the air; griffins, angels, strange winged human/animal combinations, harking back to the legend of 'Gargouille', a dragon with bat-like wings that St. Romanus subdued with a crucifix, mounting the dead creature's severed neck and head on his church to ward off evil spirits. At night, the rumor goes, they detach themselves from the masonry, to wreak a little havoc in the human realms.
By Anne McGlynn
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