Basilica of Santa Croce: The Facade with Clouds

Construction of the Basilica began in 1294. It is the 3rd largest church in the world.

The ornate polychrome marble facade, like that of Florence’s more famous Duomo, was actually added in the 19th century.

Prior to the new facade, the front of the Basilica would have looked like the adjacent cloister and tower. The rest of the building remains the reddish limestone. The Duomo, on the other hand, was totally sheathed in marble.

The Italian architect Niccolo Matas from Ancona designed the Neo-Gothic facade between 1857-1863.

Because Matas was Jewish, he could not be buried in Santa Croce. The Basilica is the burial place of many prominent Italian artists, writers, and thinkers and is called the Temple of Italian Glories. After Matas’ death, his body was moved and reburied under the porch of the Basilica.

But Matas left his mark on Santa Croce. He worked a prominent Star of David into the design. While both Jewish and Christian symbol, it’s prominence is meaningful

He is buried beneath his star, just outside the center door.

Le Donne di Firenze #1: Mary Magdalena

Mary Magdalene the Penitent, wood, Donatello, 1453-1455.

Carved of white poplar in 1453-1455, the statue was originally at least partly polychrome and gilded. Its realism was startling.

Probably carved for the baptistry in Florence, it is now in the Museo dell’Opera del Duomo.

Apparently, medieval iconography of Mary Magdalene mixed her with that of other Mary’s, including St. Mary of Egypt, who spent 30 years in the desert. This may have influenced Donatello’s work.

Christmas at Notre Dame, Before the Fire

Guarding the Cathedral

Lion guarding the steps of San Lorenzo, Genoa’s cathedral.

Silent Sunday

Architectural elements and dome from baroque Basilica S. Andrea della Valle in Rome

Santa Maria in Trastevere

One of the oldest churches in Rome, Santa Maria in Trastevere is one of the most beautiful. It is a minor basilica. Although there has been religious activity on the site since the 2nd century, the existing structure dates to the 12th century. The columns in the nave were repurposed from old Roman buildings.

The upper mosaics in the apse date to the mid-12th century and illustrate the glorification of the Virgin. The lower panels, depicting the life of the Virgin Mary, date to 1291.

The portico on the front of the church was added in 1702.

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