Downspout inspirations

How do you come up with these ideas?

Stryga, one of the “gargoyles” at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, France. (

People often ask that about my Foundations of Faith column, that I have written for The Compass since 1997. While some topics may be explored more than once, the columns are never recycled. There is always new information. Just this year, I have explored the lance of St. Longinus (one of the relics of Christ’s Passion), tattoos and the River Jordan.

Then I came up gargoyles. How?

On April 15, 2019, Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris caught fire. It held the world mesmerized. Two years earlier, I had written about Christ’s Crown of Thorns, another relic of the Passion. It has been housed in Notre Dame since 1806. It was rescued from the fire. When we ran the news story on the fire, we also included a link to my story on the Crown of Thorns ( It was incredibly popular on social media.

Since then, I have kept an eye on the progress at Notre Dame and when I learned that you could “adopt a gargoyle” there, my interest was piqued:

Who hasn’t seen gargoyles, but why are they on churches? You can find out from my column in the June 4, 2021 Compass. Here’s a hint: it has to do with downspouts.

To learn more about gargoyles, visit

About Patricia Kasten

Kasten is the author of “Linking Your Beads, The Rosary’s History, Mysteries and Prayers,” published by Our Sunday Visitor Press.  Her newest book, on sainthood – “Making Sense of Saints. Fascinating Facts about Relics, Patrons, Saint-Making and More“, was published by OSV in Spring 2014.  She is also a puzzle-smith. Her weekly Scripture Search puzzle (see The Compass) and bi-weekly The Cross Word, both based on the Sunday readings, appear in Catholic newspapers and parish bulletins around the country.