Wednesday, June 03, 2015

An Ivory Situla from the Basilica of St Ambrose in Milan

From the website of the Museum of the Cathedral of Milan:

This carved ivory bucket for holy water, or “situla”, was commissioned by Gotofredo, Archbishop of Milan, for the blessing of the Emperor Otto II (967-983), which was supposed to take place in the Basilica of Saint Ambrose. Now kept in the Cathedral Museum, it was probably never used, since the Archbishop died in 980, before the arrival of Otto II in Milan. An inscription on the upper edge reads “A gift of Gotofredo to thee, holy prophet Ambrose, a vessel to sprinkle blessed water on Caesar when he shall come.” The relief images along the outside are separated from each other by columns supporting arches. Under one the Virgin Mary sits on a throne with the Child Jesus on her lap, who holds a scroll; to either side of them, two angels carry a holy water bucket and a thurible. Below the other four arches, the Evangelists are seated at their desks, writing the Gospels. Each is flanked by the animal that symbolizes him. The silver handle is made in the form of two winged monsters with reptilian tails and front paws, large, open eyes and feline ears, who hold a small human head in their jaws. (No information is given on either the Italian or English version of the website about the chalice depicted here to the right.)

Two more images of the situla from from wikimedia commons. (by Sailko)

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