Art of the Spirit, Spirit of Art

Spoleto (Umbria – Italy) – Until next November 3 it is possible to visit again the Monumental Complex of the Cathedral of Spoleto, which includes the Cathedral, the Diocesan Museum and the Basilica of St. Euphemia, with the new “visions” from above – inside and outside – of the top of the apse of the Cathedral and the bell tower.

The project of the Archdiocese, with the collaboration of Civita Opera, is defined as “Art of the Spirit – Spirit of Art”: two concepts, a chiasm, a broader reading, but at the same time unitary, of the monuments of the city, in which the Cathedral once again becomes not only a spiritual fulcrum, but also artistic, from which all other routes depart.

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In this perspective, two extraordinary “visions” are part of the path “Art of the Spirit – Spirit of Art”. Visitors can admire Filippo Lippi’s cycle in the apse from above and climb to the top of the bell tower, from earth to sky, as shown in the iconography of the frescoes by the Florentine painter: from the Annunciation to the Nativity, from the Death of the Virgin to the Assumption and the representation of the Empireo. In particular, in the view near the apse, you can better observe the fresco of the basin with the Coronation of the Virgin: God the Father and Mary are thus impressive figures and the visitor recognizes from here the people of Paradise distinguishing the figures of the Prophets and the heroines of the biblical world.

The aim is therefore to create a unitary path between the various sites that connect to the Cathedral in which the protagonist is the light that accompanies the visitor, with the help of a multilingual video guide, already outside the church, in a perspective cone down to the facade. The light that generates more light is found inside the large nave until the vision of the apse basin and the reaching of the top of the bell tower.

On the other hand, the cathedral houses various masterpieces, from the facade to the floor to the various chapels, covering styles and schools, from the art of the origins to the Romanesque, from the Renaissance to the Baroque up to Neoclassicism. But the Cathedral does not only preserve monuments, it is also the place par excellence of spirituality, with particular regard to the Chapel of the Relics where the precious handwritten letter of St. Francis of Assisi to Brother Leo is kept. To the saint, who had his conversion in Spoleto, is also dedicated a cycle of frescoes still unpublished, with the episode of the wolf of Gubbio, which can be shown to visitors during the climb to the view of the apse.

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The tour of the Monumental Complex starts from the right side of the church, from the Chapel of the Heroes, bishops of Spoleto, dedicated to the Assumption with frescoes by Jacopo Siculo depicting Prophets and scenes from the Old and New Testaments. The visitor will be ideally welcomed by the Madonna Assunta venerated by Bishop Eroli.

Madonna and bishop welcome the visitor, today as in the past. On the other hand, the Cathedral is named after the Assumption and the visit leads to the frescoes by Filippo Lippi with this theme in the apse, the culmination of the aesthetic and religious journey.

In addition to visiting the Cathedral, you can continue your journey to the Diocesan Museum and the Basilica of St. Euphemia, which until next May 20 houses the exhibition on the Madonna Bianca in Ancarano di Norcia, which is dedicated to the first appointment of the exhibition A church that is told. The earthquake-stricken churches are “reborn” in the Basilica of Sant’Eufemia. Here the White Madonna in Ancarano di Norcia helps us to know its centenary history through the work that gave its name: the great relief representing the Madonna and Child (called White Madonna because carved in white marble), made at the end of ‘400 by the Florentine sculptor Francesco di Simone Ferrucci and just restored thanks to the interest of the Tecno Service of Terni. The work kept inside the precious wooden tabernacle of 1511 is placed in the presbytery of Sant’Eufemia to welcome again the prayers of the faithful and, in particular, those addressed by the community of Ancarano that, in the basilica of Spoleto, sees so “reborn” its church temporarily unfit for habitation.

In Una chiesa che si racconta, the call to beauty and responsibility of not forgetting is a concrete service of information and enhancement that the Archdiocese of Spoleto-Norcia wants to dedicate to all communities injured by the earthquake.

The Museum, located inside the Archbishop’s Palace, was inaugurated in the late sixties of the last century with the aim of preserving and enhancing the historical and artistic heritage of the territory of the Archdiocese of Spoleto-Norcia. The works are arranged chronologically in the halls of representation of the palace, called “apartment of the Cardinal”, which have frescoes painted from the second half of the sixteenth century. Some masterpieces allow the visitor to know local art schools and “foreigners”, the art of the origins to the Renaissance until the Baroque. Masters from Spoleto, Florence and Rome, from the author of the Blue Cross to the Master of San Felice di Giano, from Neri di Bicci to Filippino Lippi, from Domenico Beccafumi to Cavalier d’Arpino and Gian Lorenzo Bernini.

The church of Sant’Eufemia, one of the most remarkable Romanesque buildings in Umbria, is part of the Diocesan Museum’s itinerary. The origins of this church remain uncertain: according to the most accredited hypothesis, it stands on the area that was once occupied by the palatium when Spoleto was under the dominion of the Lombards who elected the city as the ducal seat. The basilica would therefore result as the evolution of the palatine chapel of the Lombard dukes dedicated to the same Sant’Eufemia.

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