As PJ and I are in the last stages of preparation for our trip to Europe, I decided to look at where we are on the Via Lucis blog. What I found was stunning. We have been doing this for five years; when we started, it was because we had some interesting shots of Romanesque churches in France and thought that a few people might find them interesting. Our first posts were tentative, a few words about a single photograph, most of the time. But then something happened.
As our focus sharpened and our explorations deepened, we found ourselves in a different world, writing articles on single churches, on the history of Romanesque architecture, monasticism, pilgrimage and exploring the meaning of the churches. In doing so, we found people who were interested in these explorations and who have been part of an ongoing dialogue for three and four years. What has resulted is amazing.
First, we have published over 500 articles. That’s a lot of writing. Admittedly some are reposts, some are short articles linking to items of interest in the world about us, but most are full articles. And they are written by others as well as by us. We have an active group of contributors from around the world. Jong-Soung Kimm has written eleven articles about churches in Spain and Germany. His description of Saint Michael’s church in Hildesheim is the third most-viewed post in Via Lucis history. His articles on the Cathedral Saint Peter of Worms and the Abbey Church of Maria Laach are top fifteen.
Douglas Reed’s Theories of Architectural Conservation is our fourth most viewed article, viewed almost 3,000 times by students around the world. Via Lucis articles have been translated into French and Italian, and there are more in the pipeline. We have found that there are tens of thousands of links to our site from other sites on the internet.
And as if this were not enough, the real news is the readership. As of the moment that I write this, we have had 262,000 visitors from 176 countries. Those countries represent 90% of the countries in the world today. They have contributed 5,681 comments, thoughtful and reflective. Because of this site, we have met Angelico Surchamp, Janet Marquardt, Servane de Layre Mathéus, and so many others who have made substantial contributions to the field of medieval art and architecture. We have corresponded with hundreds of amateurs and professionals who have helped us understand this world in a way that books might not be able to. Some of them we know by their names; Gordon Stewart, Trish Worth, Helen DeVries, Vivian Blake, Kalli Deschamps, Jay Fredrich, John McKean, Stephan Vitas, Aquila Herus, Nathan Mizrachi, Paul Iocono and so many others. Some we know only by their handles; Hesperatusa, Wife of Bath, or our Catalan guide, Covetotop.
From these individuals we have discovered whole groups of dedicated explorers of medieval churches; on Facebook alone we number Amigos del Romanico, Ancient and Medieval History and Archeology Nerd Group, George Hoezelman’s Beautiful Churches, The Beauty of History, Eglise Romanes, Medieval Art, Romanes.com, Romanico Digital, Art Romane en Saintonge, Centre de la Culture du Limousin Médiéval, and Eglises Gothiques.
In short, we have found ourselves in the middle of a community of extraordinary people. And we have found out that the small piece of history in which we are fascinated and compelled to explore resonates powerfully to people around the world. We are humbled and grateful. You have enriched our lives.
Thank you all.
PJ added a comment that I think is apropos: “I want to emphasize what Dennis said about community. The blog has brought so many of you directly into our lives. We’ve met you both at home and in our travels. You’ve helped us with your knowledge, suggestions and posts. You’ve moved us to tears with your comments and insights. Most importantly, through our readers, we reaffirm daily the importance of what we do and why we do it. In some way we take all of you with us through every door along the way. Thank you.”