Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Santa Maria in Trastevere

Facade of S. Maria in Trastevere
What: one of the earliest places of Christian worship in Rome, the oldest church dedicated to Mary
Who: early Christians; Pope Innocent III commissioned the building of basilica over original 3rd/4th century structure
When: structure dates from 1140
Where: in Trastevere, "accross the Tiber" literally (trans-Tibere)
Why: In 38 B.C. oil spring up out of the ground miraculously.  This was interpreted as a sign of the imminent coming of Christ, the "Anointed One" (anointed with oil)

  • In the Portico (front area of church, not inside):
    • 2 coats of arms, the current pope's and the titular cardinal's
    • Scallop shell=sign of the pilgrim and baptism
    • Fragments of the catacombs cover the walls
  • Elaborate doors emphasize that when one enters a church, he or she is entering into a different, sacred space
  • Floors are "Opus Sectile"
    • the colors, patterns, and variation of the floors are meant to remind us of creation
  • Granite columns inside are from the Nile, have ionic capitals
  • Monks invented cursive handwriting when copying manuscripts
  • Mosaics
    • date back to either 1140 or 1290, products of the high middle ages, made by Greeks
    • Intermediate mosaics--Mary's life
    • Annunciation
      Nativity of Christ
      Visit of the Magi
      Presentation of Christ in the temple
      The Dormition of Mary
    • Lamb and sheep and upper mosaic figures
    • note the lamb and sheep
      • Lamb in the middle=Christ, sheep=apostles
      • sheep=symbol of charity; provides all, asks for nothing
      • the sheep are coming from Bethlehem and Jerusalem
      • God the Father is represented as the small hand over Christ's head
    • Mosaic on the facade (outside): Mary with the virgins with oil

  • Arms of chair=griffins
    • griffins are half eagle, half lion--king of land and sky--symbol of Christ, King of all
  • Aedicula--the image of Mary on the bell tower
  • The roof is wooden, must be restored every 500 years
  • Baldacchino
    • the canopy over the altar
    • the lower part is darker to remind us of earth
    • the upper part is lighter to remind us of heaven
    • Porphyry--the dark purple stone used on the lower part of the baldacchino

  • Palinpsest
    • the mixture/layering of styles and periods in a single structure
  • Balustrade
    • railing with posts, Baroque and Rennaissance
  • Contrapposto
    • the play of opposing forces in sculpture
    • seen in the statues of popes in front of S. Maria in Trastevere
  • Spolia
    • the reuse of building materials
  • Dies Talias
    • what Romans called the day they died, means "birthday;" the day they died was the day they were born into eternal life
  • Opus Sectile
    • the colors, patterns, and variation of the floors are meant to remind us of creation
  • Entasis
    • intentional swelling on the shaft of the column to create an optical illusion
  • Apse
    • semicircular area behind altar

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