The life of a lowly gargoyle or how hard work pays off

There are two kinds of people, those who do the work and those who take the credit. Try to be in the first group; there is less competition there.
Indira Gandhi

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The image above is indeed that which you think, a gargoyle. Well, sort of a gargoyle and not just any sort of gargoyle mind you. This gargoyle, simply put, is a humble rain spout. And rather than being a simple gargoyle or a lowly rain spout this little image is actually a lasting representation of one man’s life’s work. Look closely and you will notice that this particular rain spout is holding the hammer and chisel of a stonemason. He also wears the leather cap and apron of a workman from what history labels as the Dark Ages.

Our friend here is located high atop the facade of the Prague Castle or what is officially known as St. Vitus, St. Wenceslas, St Adalbert Cathedral. It is a massive “fortress” that dominates the skyline of this former land of Bohemia comprised of the secular governmental offices along with the spiritual hub of Prague. No notable castle per se but a cathedral for the ages.

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There has been rule and worship on this site since 880. The beautiful gothic masterpiece we see today slowly started to rise upward in 1344 and took all of 600 years to finally complete. Imagine the army of skilled workman and craftsman of the 12th century who were to begin the arduous and dangerous task of building a Cathedral for the ages. No cranes, no dozers, no jackhammers, no technology, no computers–just the strength of hundreds of laborers.

All cities of worth and merit, during these “dark times,” all vied for the greatest and grandest church possible—all wanting their spires to rise higher and greater than the competing country and city. Places so grand and glorious that pilgrims would feel obligated to journey to, paying homage to their great God, while helping to off set costs with the donations to the church’s coffers.

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I don’t know, I’m sure that there are plaques, statues, stained glass windows throughout this massive Cathedral, or seat of the bishop, that most likely commemorate those who conspired to commission this massive undertaking. I know the names of the saints to whom this church is dedicated but as far as who had it commissioned or oversaw the inception to this marvel of its time of birth, I’d have to consult a history book… and no doubt, it would have been the current king / ruler (from Luxembourg I believe) and the local bishop…along with the blessing of that time’s current Pope.

But as for the one who toiled day and night, day after day, month after month, year after year, straining, carving, laying, lifting, moving—those who actually did the labor…well, I know him, and you know him,– he was the simple stonemason and he is now immortalized for the ages in stone–in the very stone he no less carved.

So who ever says that those who do all the work never seem to get any credit? Here we have a lowly stonemason 800 some odd years after the fact of his time spent chipping away on this massive cathedral still hanging out high atop the city of Prague—still working, still performing an important task, still with little to no recognition for his efforts, yet still very important efforts as he now diverts rain from the roof.

Here is to all the craftsmen and workman (and woman too) who lived, worked and died building, erecting, creating the wonders that we all travel the globe today to admire. I rather admire the fact that yes, on the inside of this glorious Christian marvel those important people of the 12th century are clearly honored and recognized, but it is to the work that is still going on outside… still going strong after all of these many years, that I find quite wondrous. Here is to the lowly stonemason! 800 years and still going strong!

2 comments on “The life of a lowly gargoyle or how hard work pays off

  1. calmgrove says:

    “He” has survived remarkably well, given his age, hasn’t he? I would imagine he’s been ‘restored’ at some stage, possibly in the 19th century or more recently, but a remarkable image for all that.

    And I wonder about the symbolism of him spewing out (albeit rainwater) all over passers-by. Or maybe it’s that group of high-ups and dignitaries of the second group that you mentioned that he’s voiding onto…

    • Oh I agree–I thought you’d like him–I know that there was a more recent renovation last century and that at the time, last October when I visited, there was also a bit of an exterior cleaning taking place. I had not thought about whom he was to be spewing upon—ooo, I like that thought 🙂

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