This article engages with the Creation cycle (hexaemeron) sculpted on the vault of the south portal of the choir of the Holy Cross Church at Schwäbisch Gmünd (1351–1377). Several reliefs depict the cosmological creation, which was a rather rare topic in monumental sculpture on public display during the Middle Ages. Being based on cosmological theories, taught at the universities, but not expected to be shared with the laity, it is a unique intellectual cultural phenomenon.
The article seeks to interpret anew the full scientific significance of these unprecedented iconographic cosmological depictions. The choice of topic and location of the cosmological reliefs will be explained in relation to the town’s socioeconomic and political developments that brought to substantial changes in the lives of the burghers.
Presenting these novel ideas to the medieval public in an ecclesiastic context suggests an important change in the intellectual history of the region in the late fourteenth century.