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The Foundations of the Celestial City
Are Made of Precious Stones

Cornelius a Lapide

Once again we publish a text with the presupposition that Heaven is a place, contrary to what progressivists now say.
"And the foundations of the wall of the city were adorned with all manner of precious stones. The first foundation, jasper: the second, sapphire: the third, a chalcedony: the fourth, an emerald. The fifth, sardonyx: the sixth: sardius: the seventh, chrysolite: the eighth, beryl: the ninth, a topaz: the tenth, a chrysopasus: the eleventh, a jacinth: the twelfth, an amethyst" (Apocalypse, 21:19-20).

Alcazar observes that “adorned” means that they were set out in a beautiful order. The Greek word does not mean so much as to adorn as to order, to distribute, to bring together, principally in the case when something is prepared for decoration and beauty, as in constructions. Therefore, it is said that the foundations were adorned with all manner of precious stone, because in the order that the stones had been arranged, John saw an admirable form of beauty. “Adorned” thus means that he saw the brilliant arrangement of all those precious stones that follow in his description.

One should note that John describes the foundations of the celestial Jerusalem, that is, the beauty and the adornment of its precious stones, for these reasons:

First, because nothing on earth is more beautiful or valuable than precious stones. Like the stars that shine in the sky, so also the precious stones shine in such a way that they seem to be the stars of earth, and they seem to share the lightness, force and brilliance of the stars.

Second, because for the ancients, precious stones were images of celestial and divine things.

Third, because on earth precious stones express the value, splendor, stability and energy of things. …

Fourth, because true precious stones, far more precious than ours, exist in heaven. This is can be deduced from the following:

  • The description of St. John, who affirms that he actually saw them in Heaven, and the words in Tobias: "The gates of Jerusalem shall be built of sapphire, and of emerald, and all the walls thereof around about of precious stones. All its public squares shall be paved with white and clean stones: and Alleluia shall be sung in the streets" (13:21-22). Now, according to what St. Augustine teaches, the words of Scripture must be understood as they are written, unless their first meaning is obscure.

  • Because the eyes of the Saints see rich, beautiful and precious objects that give them delight. Now, the sight is pleased not only with light, but also with the variety of colors, such as the different greens of the fields and trees and the various colors of flowers and fruits. Also pleasing are [the blue colors of] the rivers and springs transparent like glass, and principally the precious stones that shine with many colors. Therefore, they should not be lacking in Heaven; otherwise, the Saints would be happier on earth than in Heaven.

  • Because, according to the testimony of St. Ambrose (Sermo 90), St. Agnes and other blessed virgins appeared wearing dresses adorned with gold and precious stones.
Finally, in Heaven there will be many mansions and palaces of the blessed built with rich materials and precious stones, as well as the most pleasant fields, gardens and woods, as St. Anselm teaches in De Similitude chap. 44 and Barradius in vol. 3, book 10, chap. 3.


Blason de Charlemagne
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Summarized and translated by the TIA desk from Cornelius a Lapide,
Commentaria in Scripturam Sacram, Paris: Ludovicum Vides, 1876, vol. 21, chap. 21
Posted November 19, 2011

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