The Pain of Infertility: The West Capital Frieze at Chartres

There is an extra-biblical story about Mary’s parents. They went to the temple to make an offering, but because of their infertility, it was not accepted. In this visual version, Joachim and Anne arrive with lambs. They priest (with a halo, but missing his head) with an immense right hand stops them. Their feet suggest that they are recoiling. I hurt when I think how my religious convictions might cause those in distress to move away from God.

West Capital Frieze


My Prayer

God, may my actions bring life. May I interact with others in ways that open the future. May others experience Your love through me.

Scriptural Touchstone: 

Sarai was barren; she had no child. Genesis 11:30

West Capital Frieze

Zechariah and Elizabeth had no children… Luke 1:7 (NRSV)

Invitation to Pray:

What barrenness in your life is most painful? Where in your body do you feel it? As you focus on it, what prayers are emerging in your body, mind, heart, and imagination? Pray them now.

West Capital Frieze


Small twelfth-century  sculptures (1145) that line the west wall, just above the doorways at the Chartres Cathedral in France. This scene is found next to the left central door and is found on the far right of the photo below.

West Capital Frieze
West capital frieze to the left of the cathedral’s central doorway




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