Via Lucis

Via Lucis Photography and Via Lucis Press are part of a long-term project to document Romanesque and Gothic churches in France and Spain. The projects include the photographs that are represented on this site, a book called Light and Stone, and custom art prints. Light and Stone is illustrated by these photographs, with text by Dennis Aubrey, edited by Ann Hanson.

The photographs represented here are high-resolution images of Romanesque and Gothic churches in France and Spain. The photographers, Dennis Aubrey and PJ McKey, have created a library of more than 7,000 finished images. The intent of the photography is to digitally document these marvelous structures while capturing the hidden presence of medieval spirituality.

Images include the earliest extant Christian structures in France; the Baptistère Saint-Jean in Poitiers (Vienne), the Carolingian oratory in Germingy-des-Prés (Loiret), and the Carolingian church of Saint-Fortunat in Charlieu (Saone-et-Loire). The collection documents this architecture through the High Gothic cathedrals of the 13th and 14th Centuries. While the library includes exteriors, the primary concentration is on interior architecture, especially vaults, domes, and buttressing which define the Romanesque and Gothic styles.

There is also a section of a sculptural specialty, the Vierges Romanes (Romanesque Virgins). These are 11-13th century stylized wooden statues of the Madonna and Child, usually polychrome but sometimes covered in plate and jewels. More formally, they are known as Sedes Sapientiae, the Throne of Wisdom. A subset of these are the Black Madonnas, which are particularly venerated in Spain and France.

Please note that all images and text on this Via Lucis blog are copyrighted by VIA LUCIS LLC. Thank you for respecting this notice.

The Via Lucis collection is now featured at ARTstor in New York City. ARTstor is a nonprofit digital library of more than one million images in the arts, architecture, humanities, and social sciences with a suite of software tools to view, present, and manage images for research and pedagogical purposes. The community-built collections comprise contributions from outstanding museums, photographers, libraries, scholars, photo archives, and artists and artists’ estates.

Our website is found at

The images represented on the Via Lucis site are just a fraction of the total number of high-resolution digital images in the Via Lucis library. If you have more specific requirements, please contact us with your request.

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21 thoughts on “Via Lucis

  1. Congratulations. The amount 3000 photos is not much. I have been photographing in my country Finland about 380 churches. They are mainly situated on countryside. To photograph churches in cities and towns is easy, but what about to travel sideways to small villages, it takes time.

    When photographing one church, I take from 20 to 50 photos. From this You can easily calculate my amount of Finnish churches. I started in the end of 2004. The problem here is that we have winter and that means to photograph churches, no photos during winter, all must be taken in summer.

    I do not know how You divide churches in different categories, but I do it this way.

    1. Wooden churches.
    2. Stone churches.
    3. Orthodox churches.

    In addition to these, I photograph memorials on cemeteries.
    Bell towers, because in my country they are in many cases separated from churches. Also those Votive ships inside churches. Then we have beside our churches Poor Man statues. They do not exist in other countries, but here in Finland.

    I give some links from my blogs that You understand better:

    Wooden churches:

    Stone churches:

    Orthodox churches:

    Altars around in Finland:


    Bell towers:


    In my blog, I am not only presenting churches, but Finnish landscape, hobbies people do here and life in its many forms.

    To understand me, it would be better take a look at my profile:

    I wish all the best to You and Your projects.

    1. Thank you for the post. We actually have over 50,000 photographs of churches but since we do so much bracketing (often up to 9 exposures per shot) we only count the finished shots that we believe are worth displaying. We would love to shoot some of the churches in Finland, especially the Petäjävesi Old Church which I have admired for some time.

  2. Thank You for Your kind reply to my comment. After seeing my About, You understand that I am not a professional, but amateur, senior citizen, who loves to photograph the beauty of my country. My country is quite unknown to many people around the world and that is why I try to make it more known. So, photographing churches is natural when considering my “aim”.

    Of course I forget from my list cathedrals:

    Have a wonderful day!

  3. Salute to the photographs on your site; which are very illuminating, using solid composition and timing to capture the atmospheric light within these wonderful places of worship.

    I happily discovered your site after you had posted a like, of my photo essay on Etruscan ruins in Orvieto, Italy:
    Since your last visit, more photos of Duomo di Orvieto have been posted, please visit again.

    1. Thank you, André. I have enjoyed your posts on the Cathedral of Rouen lately. I know that you were concerned with the state of the cathedral. Here is a short excerpt from Wikipedia about what these stones have endured:

      “In the late 16th century the cathedral was badly damaged during the French Wars of Religion: the Calvinists damaged much of the furniture, tombs, stained-glass windows and statuary. The cathedral was again struck by lightning in 1625 and 1642, then damaged by a hurricane in 1683, the wood-work of the choir burnt in 1727 and the bell broke in 1786. In the 18th century, the state nationalized the building and sold some of its furniture and statues to make money and the chapel fences were melted down to make guns.

      The spire was destroyed by lightning in 1822. The cathedral was named the tallest building (the lantern tower with the cast iron spire of the 19th century) in the world (151 m) from 1876 to 1880. In the 20th century, during World War II, the cathedral was bombed in April 1944. Seven bombs fell on the building, narrowly missing destroying a key pillar of the lantern tower, but damaging much of the south aisle and destroying two rose windows. One of the bombs did not explode. A second bombing (before the Normandy Landings in June 1944) burned the oldest tower, called the North Tower. During the fire the bells melted, leaving molten remains on the floor. In 1999, during a violent wind storm, a copper-clad wooden turret, which weighed 26 tons, fell into the church and damaged the choir.”

      We’re lucky that anything survives.

  4. I continue to be amazed by the stunning photographs you present of truly beautiful churches throughout Europe. Your blog inspires my travels and challenges me to look at architecture from another perspective. In recognition of your efforts to share religious architecture with the world, I’ve nominated you for the “Adventurous Blogger Award.” Please follow the link for more information. Cheers.

  5. Good Morning , nice to meet You and Your blog 🙂 Great posts, great ideas , pleasure to be here , i wish You the best,in free time see my little place too, Regards from Poland , EM

  6. I tried to reach you, but on a different part of your site. I don’y know if you got my message.
    I am hoping for permission to use the first two photos of the “Cabestany Capital” at Rieux Minervois in a paper titled “Three heptagonal Sacred Spaces”, to be published by ICONEA at the British Museum. Let me know cost. Thank you.

    I hope you are all recovered. All best wishes,

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