Gargoyles, the mystery and mystique.

The word gargoyle was evolved from the French word gargouille meaning throat and the Latin word gurgulio meaning gullet which is a type of passage or passageway. Gargoyles are known as a form of water spout that is commonly found sticking out from the top part of buildings attached to a gutter. This gargoyle allows the water from the gutters to drain off the roof without it running down the walls and foundation. This in return protects the stones and mortar of this structure from wearing away. Because there was a rather large amount of gutters, gargoyles are abundant atop medieval buildings. The separation of the flow of water minimized any likely damage that may come from each gargoyles mouth.

Gargoyles can be traced back through time all the way to ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome. Many of their waterspouts were also formed in the shape of animals such as birds, lions or other scary creatures.

Why throughout history has these scary and ugly creatures been used to adorn our buildings as waterspouts? The answer is can be found when you realize that many people wished to warn off evil spirits, demons or use these creatures as ways to foretell what might happen to sinners.

The legends surrounding gargoyles are plentiful. Some of these stories claim that gargoyles were protectors that would warn evil spirits away; these creatures would come alive at night and protect you in your sleep from any demons that many venture your way. Others believe that they would fly over territories to guard and protect and as the sun rose would light atop building to rest and turn back into stone.

As one legend goes, La Gargouille was once a dragon that breathed fire. He had a long neck and huge wings. He lived around the 7th century in a cave close to the river Seine in France. This dragon required a human sacrifice from the village of Rouen once a year. The villagers knew that if La Gargouille was not given his yearly sacrifice he would destroy what he could of their village. Some of his terrible feats included spouting water on the boats and burning their crops and buildings with fire. They would if they could give him a prisoner from time to time, but he preferred a virgin maiden over the foul taste of a prisoner. A priest came to the village of Rouen and was explaining Christianity to the villagers. He desire the villagers help in building a church and converting other to Christianity. The villagers agreed with St. Romanis that if he could rid them of the fire breathing dragon, they would help him in any way possible. St. Romanis used only a crucifix and calmed La Gargouille. He brought the dragon into the village and he was burned at the stake. Because of the use of the fire he used to burn their crops and buildings, La Gargouille’s head and neck would not burn. As the legend goes, the head of La Gargouille was placed atop the church to show the power that St. Romanis had over this fiery beast that held the village captive for so long.



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