It’s a bit odd to say that St-Lazare in Autun is one of my favorite churches: it’s kind of like claiming to like to breathe air — true, but hardly original.

After a wonderful morning of birding the Doubs, I spent the afternoon in the hilltop cathedral, admiring the Romanesque spaces hidden so well inside a Gothic exterior. And of course I paid my lingering respects to Gislebertus and the west portal.


As I stood there beneath the porch thankful for the chance to see these dazzling sculptures again, I noticed that gratitude was thematized above me, too.

Autun, stork and wolf

Here’s the stork of fable ridding the wolf of a badly swallowed bone — in case you don’t remember, the stork’s request for a tip was met with a snarl:

Count yourself lucky I didn’t bite your head off when it was between my teeth!

On the other side of the portal we find a positive exemplum of gratitude:

Autun, Jerome and the lion

This distressed lion remains faithful to Jerome after he has plucked the offending thorn from his paw. (There’s also a fable in the Romulus tradition, De pastore et leone, but I doubt that any old shepherd would be dressed this well).

After a day like this, I’m counting myself among the lions, not the ingrate wolves.