In the Middle Ages, paintings were not painted for art's sake just as cathedrals were not simply places to gather and worship, but all forms of the arts possessed a metaphysical reality. Art and architecture was created to lead the soul to experience God. The cosmos was seen as a work of art and the cathedral as "heaven on earth." The plague and famine, on the other hand, were equivalent to Hell by being the disembodiment of order. Mass death from the plague was the ultimate force of destruction that caused many to believe that they were experiencing Hell firsthand. It also made many people focus on preparing for death with the aid of the church.

The church took part in funeral processions for the dead as well masses held for the deceased. The Bibliotheque Nationale de France has several illuminated manuscripts online to view including general funeral services, the funeral of Philip VI, and the funeral of Richard II.