And the first beast was like a lion, and the second beast like a calf, and the third beast had a face as a man, and the fourth beast was like a flying eagle.
And the four beasts had each of them six wings about him; and they were full of eyes within: and they rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come.
And when those beasts give glory and honour and thanks to him that sat on the throne, who liveth for ever and ever.
Revelations 4:7-9 (King James Version)
PJ and I always try to spend my birthday at the Pont de l’Ouysse in the town of Lacave near Rocamador. On that day last year, we went out to photograph as usual and found an interesting church in the town of Goujounac. The church is small and for the most part unremarkable. It is a simple hall church, no transepts and a plain rounded apse. The church sits three feet from the main road to the town.
On the south side of the building, however, is a fine tympanam showing a Christ in majesty, enclosed by a mandorla, and surrounded by a tetramorph of the four living creatures that serve as symbols of the evangelists.
The figure of Christ is masterful with its elegantly rendered folds in the clothing, the perfect placement of the hands and the serene gaze of Jesus. His right hand is raised in blessing and his left holds a book. This image represents the Risen Christ as both judge and king.
The four evangelists are arrayed around the mandorla. At the top left is the angel representing the author of the first gospel, Matthew. This figure represents the “beast with the face of a man”. Below him is Saint Mark, author of the second gospel, represented as a lion.
To the lower right of the Christ is a sculpture of the winged bull, the symbol of the evangelist Luke, author of the third gospel. Above the bull is the eagle, representing John, the author of the fourth gospel. The head of this eagle is missing, unfortunately.
To photograph the tympanum, I had to cross the road and use a 400mm lens. It was easy to do so although I had to wait as the rare traffic passed. At one point, a small camion filled with gardening tools pulled up directly in front of me. My first thought was “What the hell is wrong with this guy?” But he smiled and leaned across to the open window and called out, “Our church is beautiful, is it not?” I told him that the church of Saint Peter in Chains was exactly that! He smiled and drove off, leaving me to my pleasant labors.
Location: 44.576198° 1.196447°