Baptismal Font Basilica Of San Frediano Lucca Italy
Photograph - Photography And Digital Art
For a town that seems a bit off the tourist itinerary of ‘must see’ places in Italy, Lucca has a history of being extremely important. In the 13th-14th centuries, Lucca enjoyed an era of great splendor. During this time the town converted to Catholicism and was a key stopover on the Pilgrimage route of Via Francigena along the route to Rome. Much money flowed into the building of churches so that Lucca became known as ‘The City of 100 Churches’, with examples from many important eras. I didn’t count the churches but one of them sat barely a block from where I stayed so it was my first stop. This is the Basilica of San Frediano, a Romanesque catholic church situated on a piazza of the same name. It is the oldest church in Lucca, although not in its present form. The medieval interior is dim and has a medieval atmosphere. It was so quiet on the morning that I was there, just me and the docents collecting the entrance fee at the door. The baptismal font is the main attractions of the Basilica, being Lucca’s most important example of Romanesque art dating from either the 12th century. One writer described some of the figures on the font thus: “Besides an image of God, Pharaoh soldiers are carved in the act of crossing the Red Sea while the water begins to ripple between their horses’ hooves, with fish wriggling in it. The horses […] seem as secure and arrogant as thoroughbreds at the racetrack, while fish emerge between the wavelets and the horsemen – petrified in the saddle – are depicted with wrong joints and feet that even face a direction opposite to anatomical logic.” Wikipedia is more prosaic, saying that the basin is decorated with the story of Moses. And more description: “This time, I was attracted in particular to the effigy of a man with a broken face, who looks clumsy in his never-ironed toga, as he fights against a monster with the body and legs of a rooster, the tail of a crocodile, the neck of a snake and the head of a cat. The man angrily shakes the horrible tail while the rooster, from the snake’s neck, turns the cat’s head in still and secular anger…” Sculptors had a great imagination, that’s for sure!
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April 16th, 2021
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