Report: A Celebration of Robert Grosseteste at Lincoln Cathedral

On the 10th October 2017 Bishop Grosseteste University held its celebration of Robert Grosseteste with its annual public lecture. This year we were delighted to invite Dr Angelo Silvestri from Cardiff University who provided an excellent lecture to an appreciative audience on, ‘From Romanesque darkness to Gothic light: the architectural and artistic role of Lincoln Cathedral in the episcopacies of Alexander of Lincoln, Hugh of Avalon and Robert Grosseteste.’

Lancet Window Lincoln
The Lancet window at Lincoln Cathedral, where the main oculus has six equal circles surrounding a seventh, reflecting links with Grosseteste’s Hexaemeron and his metaphysics of light.

Dr Silvestri’s account of the building of Lincoln’s glorious cathedral in the 12th and 13th centuries took us through three distinct phases. Firstly, in the first half of the 12th century Bishop Alexander, ‘the Magnificent,’ created a structure with a strong motivation to stress its function as a quasi-military building well equipped to defend its congregation from perceived enemies. Later, Hugh of Avalon maintained a political function, but introduced a new stress on the devotional purpose of the sacred building. Finally, with Grosseteste we have a building whose purpose is regarded as exclusively religious, with no compromise between politics and religion. Dr Silvestri presented a convincing case for reading much of Lincoln’s fine cathedral as a reflection of the theological concerns of its greatest bishop-theologian. Angelo has written an excellent book, Power, Politics and Episcopal Authority: The Bishops of Cremona and Lincoln in the Middle Ages (Cambridge Scholars, 2015) for anyone interested in learning more about his fascinating ideas.

Posted on behalf of Jack Cunningham, Bishop Grosseteste University.

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