Jay Williams

The Pilgrimage of Eisegesis - Sacramental Cubicula in the Catacombs of St. Domitilla, Rome 2007

The concept of this project as an eisegesis (a process of misinterpreting a text in such a way that it introduces one's own ideas, reading into the text) is related to the mediaeval construct of the fourfold exegesis, a way of extracting meaning from both scriptures and poetry. In this case, it provides the link between the religious context of the site and the literary context of Dante Alighieri's The Divine Comedy.
The project proposes spaces for the observation of the sacramental rites of Baptism, Confession, and Prayer. Connecting into the catacombs below, the building provides a departure point for pilgrimage, helping to connect an iconographic and narrative journey through these burial galleries to explain their importance in the history of Christianity.
This pilgrimage is also imbued with a second programme: it is an allegorical temple to Divine Comedy and to Dante’s procession through the inferno, purgatory, and paradise, as both are journeys into moral significance and divine grace and ultimately aspire to human redemption. If most visitors to the catacombs come on a pilgrimage; to pray and to gain a better understanding of the way in which their systems of beliefs and sacred rites were formulated and consecrated, Dante went on an exploration into sacramental penance and the accountability of man. These references imply an exploration into the human condition, the divine and the profane influences, and their ultimate consequences.

Jay Williams is an English architect who studied at the Bartlett School of Architecture UCL where he graduated with a Diploma degree in 2007. He worked at MAKE in London and is currently working at UN Studio in Amsterdam.

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