Saturday, November 28, 2015

NLM Quiz no. 17: What Is This, and Why Is It On a Church? - The Answer

Here’s something to ponder about as you slip into a turkey-induced slumber. Our last quiz was back in January, so as a reminder of the procedure: Please give your answer in the combox, along with any and all details you think pertinent to it. To keep it more interesting, please leave your answer before reading the other comments. We are always pleased to hear humorous answers as well. The photograph does show the item out of context, as I have done before, but I will say that it is part of the decoration of a church’s façade.

The Answer : Since the church of the Sagrada Família, of which this is a part, is the second most popular site in Barcelona (after the Picasso Museum...sigh...), many people got the correct answer, or at least part of it. It is indeed a decorative element of the Passion façade, a so-called “magic square;” each of the four horizontal and four vertical lines of four squares adds up to the number 33, Christ’s age at the time of His Passion, as do the two major diagonals, each corner quadrant, the central quadrant, and various other combinations.

To be perfectly honest, I rather suspected this quiz would prove to be fairly easy, but went ahead and posted it anyway, knowing that it would bring out some interesting entries in Most Wildly Incorrect Answer and Best Humorous Answer categories. In this, I was not disappointed. The Most Wildly Incorrect Answer award goes to Jackie, even though she gave the correct location. “Dice representation on the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona.” Dice? There are actually soldiers playing dice over Christ’s garment elsewhere on the Passion façade, and they look as much like dice as the sculptor (this is the work of Josep Subirachs, not of Gaudí himself) could make them (which isn’t much.) Honorable Mention to Hoss Gardner for his guess that it is an old Roman Calendar - good try, but although the Roman calendar was a rather messy affair before Caesar’s reform, it wasn’t that messy!

Mornac runs away with the Best Humorous Answer, “It's a relief depicting a numeric Rubik’s cube that dissident bishops will be forced to solve in order to be released from purgatory. The numbers correspond to the number of liturgical abuses they allowed in their dioceses. The six sides of the cube represent the last six years of their episcopacy. The object is to display the exact number of abuses in each of those years simultaneously on the six faces of the cube.” Nice work!

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