Beware the Faithful… Medieval Gargoyles

One of the aspects of Christianity I’ve always found the most ironic is its obsession with death, hell and the destruction of the earth. On the one hand, subcultures that embrace such imagery and ideas are deemed “evil” by the Church, the work of the Devil, strange and unusual; but on the other hand, the Bible is filled with gory stories, and Christians are encouraged to warn “non-believers” of the fire, torture and terror awaiting them in the afterlife. Maybe it’s just me, but it seems a lot more twisted to obsess over being chased by the Devil than it is to acknowledge that death, destruction and evil are very much human characteristics, and not some supernatural force or possession. Gargoyles are an early form of evil brought to life by the church. These twisted supernatural statues populated the walls of churches, perched on the edges, warning the faithful of the evils the church protected them from. Since they couldn’t warn people of the perils of non-belief with a big statue of Satan, instead they put up a bunch of little statues of weird, ugly, creepy creatures that medieval people would have found intimidating and terrifying. And even though hundreds of years have passed, these gargoyles are still capable of inspiring fear and revulsion. Check out some surviving medieval gargoyles below…

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Paisley Abbey gargoyle 10

Paisley Abbey gargoyle 13

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Church of St Mary, Yatton

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The Author

Meghan

Meghan

Meghan MacRae grew up in Vancouver, Canada, but spent many years living in the remote woods. Living in the shadow of grizzly bears, cougars and the other predators of the wilderness taught her about the dark side of nature, and taught her to accept her place in nature's order as their prey. She is co-founder of CVLT Nation webzine and clothing.

  • The Guardiant

    Gargoyles were “developed” to purposely be horrific in appearance, not to warn the faithful of the evils the church protected them from, but to be so terrifying that demons themselves would hesitate to approach. The purpose of gargoyles is to repell demons and evil spirits. Despite their unwelcoming facade, gargoyles are inherently “good”. These misunderstood creatures have been misrepresented in modern literature and cinema as “bad” and/or “evil”. The reason these grotesque statuettes adorned many, if not all, new structures built some time ago is this: The belief was, and in many minds, still is, that these unlikable, frightful images were/are terrifying enough to ward off demons, evil spirits, etc. and keep these structures and their inhabitants safe from harm.

  • Col McGillveray

    Eh, Megan, when did HR Geiger become part of the medieval pantheon?