Tag Archives: Chartres Cathedral

Today’s INSIGHT: Ever Wonder As To How Church Steeples Came To Be, & What Church Had The First?

by Anura Guruge

Iconic white church steeple in Machias, Maine — so quintessential of New England churches.

Last week during my perambulations on the Bold Coast of Maine, I got thinking about church steeples — given that every town (or village) in that neck of the woods appear to have a quintessentially New England white church with a rampant steeple.

Yes, of course, I have heard the theory as to their symbolism — the desire to reach out to the heavens. But, there is also a phallic element — as in Obelisks (& I was thinking of the iconic one that dominates St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican). That ancient obelisks, in Egypt, paid homage to male ‘fertility’ is well understood. Putting a cross on top of a obelisk, as at the Vatican, does not disguise the original intent. So, there is that aspect.

What I got thinking about was ‘what would have been the first church to sport a steeple (as we know them now)‘? I did realize that this piece of history might have gone unnoted, unrecorded & is possibly now not known. Some quick research confirmed that. We just don’t know. It is now surmised that Christian steeples probably came to be around the 6th century. I guess that kind of makes sense. We do NOT know what church sported the first steeple.

The best that we can do today is identify the majestic Chartres Cathedral (in France) has having the OLDEST original steeple that is still standing. These steeples were built in the 12th century. So, he have appear to have lost about 600-years worth of history when it comes to church steeples. Thought that you may want to think of this.

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by Anura Guruge