Portal of the Virgin

The Portal of the Virgin is on the left side of the west façade. It was built in the 1210s-1220s, after the Portal of Saint Anne, but slightly earlier than the Portal of the Last Judgement.

According to Church tradition, it depicts the death of Mary, her ascension into Heaven and her coronation as Queen of the Heavens. Just above the two doors, on the lower lintel*, there are three prophets on the left and three Old Testament kings on the right, holding phylacteries showing that God’s promise has been fulfilled, Jesus has come to save humanity. Just above that, on the upper lintel, Mary lies on her death bed, surrounded by Jesus and the twelve Apostles. There are two angels at Mary’s head and feet, lifting up her shroud and taking her to Heaven.

At the centre of the tympanum, Mary is in Heaven, seated on the same throne as Jesus. She is being crowned by an angel while Jesus blesses her and gives her her sceptre. She is made Queen of Heaven, Regina Cæli, in front of the Heavenly Court made up of angels, patriarchs, kings and prophets on the four successive archivolts*.


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© Godong

On the lower part, above the trumeau, there is a canopy that represents Heavenly Jerusalem, with a large trunk underneath it. It is the Ark of the Covenant, whose content once represented God’s promise to His people. Mary is now considered to be the new Ark of the Covenant, because she brought the One who fulfilled God’s promise to save humanity.

On each side of the two doors, there are nine full-size statues restored in the 19th century by Viollet-le-Duc’s workshop after the statues were destroyed by the revolution in 1793. These statues feature:
- on the left, the Emperor Constantine, an angel, Saint Denis holding his head, and another angel,
- on the trumeau stands the Virgin with Child
- on the right, Saint John the Baptist, Saint Stephen, Saint Genevieve and Pope Saint Sylvester

Saint Denis, Saint Genevieve and Saint Marcel are the patron saints of Paris.

The abutments on the two doors depict the life of men, which follows an
unchanging cycle. On the left and the right, the signs of the Zodiac which represent the twelve months of the year, and the labours of the months are depicted. The trumeau central features the seasons on the left and the ages of life on the right. These themes are also found on the West Rose Window.

Le Portail de la Vierge
Cliquez sur la photo ci-dessus pour naviguer dans le panoramique. © Andrew TALLON

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