Station: [6] Canons' Portal with Fox Preaching to the Geese

M 1: In front of the portal leading into the church, there’s a wooden door on the right. It originally let straight up to the canons’ dormitory on the upper floor. So they were able to make their way to the church from their beds quickly and by a direct route. Now take a look at the portal leading into the church. The pillar on the right has an interesting reference to the canons’ thinking on religious matters. They’re essentially being urged to adhere strictly to the biblical Word of God in their preaching. Carved into the stone is a fox with sharp teeth and a fierce expression. He’s disguised himself as a monk, with a hood and cloak, and is preaching to a flock of geese. Apparently, they have no idea that he’s only out to gobble them up.

F 2: Today, we often imagine the Middle Ages as a dark time, when people had no choice but to accept the messages of the church uncritically and without consent. So perhaps it’s surprising to find an image calling on people to examine false messages – at the entrance to a church, no less. Of course, this wasn’t intended as criticism of the Christian message itself. Instead, the image was directed against false prophets who invoked the name of Christ in order to pursue their own interests. This kind of image reflects the spirit of monastic reform. The Premonstratensians had set out to restore Christianity to its moral core, which was always striving for good – and to put false prophets in their place.  

Foto: © Stiftung Kloster Jerichow