Churches of Italy … September 2017

Churches of Rome:

Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome

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Papal Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia …. comments below included:

The Papal Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi (Italian: Basilica Papale di San Francesco, Latin: Basilica Sancti Francisci Assisiensis) is the mother church of the Roman Catholic Order of Friars Minor Conventual in Assisi, a town of Umbria region in central Italy, where Saint Francis was born and died. The basilica is one of the most important places of Christian pilgrimage in Italy. With its accompanying friary, Sacro Convento, the basilica is a distinctive landmark to those approaching Assisi. It has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2000.

The basilica, which was begun in 1228, is built into the side of a hill and comprises two churches known as the Upper Church and the Lower Church, and a crypt where the remains of the saint are interred. The interior of the Upper Church is an important early example of the Gothic style in Italy. The Upper and Lower Churches are decorated with frescoes by numerous late medieval painters from the Roman and Tuscan schools, and include works by Cimabue, Giotto, Simone Martini, Pietro Lorenzetti and possibly Pietro Cavallini. The range and quality of the works gives the basilica a unique importance in demonstrating the development of Italian art of this period.

Papal altar with frescoes and Christ on the cross hangs from the ceiling.

The papal altar in the apse was made out of one block of stone from Como in 1230. Around the altar are a series of ornamented Gothic arches, supported by columns in different styles. The fine Gothic walnut choir stalls were completed in 1471 by Apollonio Petrocchi da Ripatransone, with the help of Tommaso di Antonio Fiorentino and Andrea da Montefalco.

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Side entrance to the lower basilica.

Brother Elias had designed the lower basilica as an enormous crypt with ribbed vaults. He had acquired his experience by building huge sepulchres out of hard rock in Syria.

The doors are surmounted by a large rose window, flanked by two smaller ones, called “the eye of the most beautiful church in the world” [6] The decorations on the left wooden door were executed by Ugolinuccio da Gubbio (circa 1550) and those on the right door by an anonymous Umbrian artist (1573). They portray stories from the lives of Saint Francis, Saint Clare, Saint Louis and Saint Anthony. On the left wall of the porch stands the bust of Pope Benedict XIV who granted this church the title of Patriarchal Basilica and Cappella Papale. Pope Benedict XVI’s theological act in 2006 of renouncing the title of “Patriarch of the West” has had the consequence of the basilica changing its name to that of the Papal Basilica of St. Francis.

Massive wooden door in the lower bascilica

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Assisi Cathedral

Assisi Cathedral: The Romanesque façade was built with stones from the Monte Subasio. It is a typical example of the style found in 12th-century churches of Umbria. This façade is divided in three sections. The rather bare top level is triangular with an empty semi-circular arch in the middle, probably intended to contain a frieze or a mosaic.

The middle level is divided by two pilasters, in line with the arch in the upper level. Each of the bay thus delineated contains a rose window, the central one the largest and the most ornate. Its frame is supported by three telamones, each standing on an animal. In the four spandrels around the rose window are the four animal symbols of the four evangelists.

The lower level consists of a number of squares and three decorated stone portals with griffins at the base of the side portals. Especially the middle portal is extensively decorated. In the lunette of the semi-circular arch over the central portal is a relief with the Christ enthroned between the sun and the moon and flanked by the Virgin, also enthroned and nursing Jesus, and St. Rufinus. The portal is surrounded with three arches decorated with saints, floral and geometrical motifs and intertwined swans. At the base of the middle arch, on each side, is a lion. These sculptures of lions and griffins have great iconographic importance.

The bottom and the middle part of the square bell tower, on the left side of the façade, were built in the 11th century. It was then situated behind the apse of the previous church built by bishop Ugone in 1029. The top level dates from the 13th century. One can see on the bell tower a colossal one-handed liturgical clock showing the 24 hours of the hora italica (Italian time), a period of time ending with sunset at 24 hours. The foundations of the bell tower rest on a Roman cistern. The structure on the side of the bell tower has been identified as the home of St. Clare.

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Temple of Minerva, Assisi

Temple of Minerva, Assisi

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia The Temple of Minerva (Italian: Tempio di Minerva) is an ancient Roman building in Assisi, Umbria, central Italy. It currently houses a church, Santa Maria sopra Minerva, built in 1539 and renovated in Baroque style in the 17th century.

The temple was built in the 1st century BC[1] by will of Gnaeus Caesius and Titus Caesius Priscus, who were two of the city’s quattuorviri and also financed the construction. The attribution to the goddess Minerva derives from the finding of a female statue, although a dedication stone to Hercules has been found, and the temple was likely dedicated to this male demi-god.[1] In the Middle Ages the temple housed a tribunal with an annexed jail, as testified by one of Giotto‘s frescoes in the St. Francis Basilica, which portrays the church windows with bars.

Of the ancient temple, the façade has been preserved, with six Corinthian columns supporting the architrave and a small pediment. The columns were originally covered by a very strong plaster, which was perhaps colored.[1] The cell was completely demolished during the church’s construction, in the 16th century, while a small section of the temple was found in the 20th century near the altar.

The temple was visited and described by the German poet Goethe during his travels in Italy, as the first ancient structure in good condition seen during his life (1786).[2]

The temple has been turned into a church in 1539

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Unknown Church in Assisi

Picture of the Pope in the entry of the church

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Duomo Cathedral …. Milan

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:

Milan, Lombardy, Italy. Dedicated to St Mary of the Nativity (Santa Maria Nascente), it is the seat of the Archbishop of Milan, currently Archbishop Mario Delpini. The cathedral took nearly six centuries to complete. It is the largest church in Italy (the larger St. Peter’s Basilica is in the State of Vatican City) and the third largest in the world.

In 1386, Archbishop Antonio da Saluzzo began construction of the cathedral. Start of the construction coincided with the ascension to power in Milan of the archbishop’s cousin Gian Galeazzo Visconti, and was meant as a reward to the noble and working classes, who had suffered under his tyrannical Visconti predecessor Barnabò. Before actual work began, three main buildings were demolished: the palace of the Archbishop, the Ordinari Palace and the Baptistry of St. Stephen at the Spring, while the old church of Sta. Maria Maggiore was exploited as a stone quarry. Enthusiasm for the immense new building soon spread among the population, and the shrewd Gian Galeazzo, together with his cousin the archbishop, collected large donations for the work-in-progress. The construction program was strictly regulated under the “Fabbrica del Duomo”, which had 300 employees led by first chief engineer Simone da Orsenigo. Orsenigo initially planned to build the cathedral from brick in Lombard Gothic style.

 

Interior of the Duomo Cathedral

The columns are huge at 108 metres (354 ft) and several metres in thickness

Stained glass windows ….. beautiful sunlight streaming through. It gives a wonderful ambiance in the cathedral

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