Thursday, September 1, 2011

The Modest Man

Last Saturday was Heritage Open Day in Cork City and I was lucky enough to visit the recently renovated Triskel Christchurch.

The former church, in the heart of medieval Cork, has been re-imagined as a space for art in the City while maintaining much of its architectural heritage.

One such piece which is interesting from our perspective is the wonderful tombstone known as "The Modest Man" housed in the foyer. The gravestone originally covered the tomb of former Cork mayor Thomas Ronan, who died in 1554. It probably formed part of an earlier church on the site.

The limestone sculpture depicts a skeleton in a shroud, tied at the top and bottom. Three inscriptions on the stone are translated as:

"In this tomb is covered the body of the gracious gentleman Thomas Rona, formerly Mayor of this City of Cork, who died on the day after Saint Jambert's Day (13 August) in the year of our Lord 1554."

"With whom there also wises to be buried his wife Joan Tyrry, who died on the 1sy December in the year of our Lord 1569: on whose soul may God have mercy. Amen. Pater, Ave and Credo. De profundis."

"Man, be mindful, since Death does not tarry: for when he dies, you will inherit serpents and beasts worms."

What's interesting from a scientific point of view is summarised by Dalton:
"The sculptor knew but little of the human frame, as is evident from the lower joints of the legs and arms, and his having cut 14 ribs at one side and 12 on the other".

For all its inaccuracy, it is wonderful to see this historic stone back on public display. It's intriguing to think of the craftsman who carved the stone. He produced perfect gothic script but fell down on his anatomy skills. Odd since he clearly made a living working around dead bodies!


  © Communicate Science; Blogger template 'Isolation' by 2012

Back to TOP