Sunday, January 31, 2016

Saint Geminianus of Modena

Today is the feast day of Saint Geminianus, the patron Saint of the small but lovely city of Modena in the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy, who died in the year 397. Not very much is known about him, (he is not even included in Butler’s Lives of the Saints), but devotion to him flourished in northern Italy; his name was even adopted by the much smaller Tuscan city of San Gimignano about a hundred miles away, one of the country’s most popular tourist destinations. Yesterday, we saw the outside of the church and its famous sculpted panels of stories from Genesis; today we will visit the beautiful Romanesque interior.

The cathedral museum preserves this decorated folio for the use of the bishop when he presided over Vespers of the Patronal feast; it contains only the opening verse “Deus, in adjutorium...”, the intonations of the first antiphon, the hymn, and the antiphon of the Magnificat, and the prayer.
The main sanctuary is considerably elevated above the floor of the nave, accessed by staircases on either side, while the crypt beneath is only a few steps lower. The reliefs on the liturgical pulpit show Christ and the Four Evangelists; those on the balustrade show the Passion of Christ. For obvious reasons, the Last Supper is given a prominent place, perhaps in deliberate imitation of the Byzantine custom of representing it on the iconostasis. Note also that the rood screen was never removed.
The entrance to the crypt.
The crypt itself is a small forest of well preserved Romanesque columns and capitals of the 12th century.
The sarcophagus which preserves the relics of St Geminianus, made in the late 4th century.
St Luke the Evangelist and his bull.
The balustrade that encloses the sanctuary of the church and the rood screen, seen from the staircase on the left.
The nave seen from the sanctuary.
A statue of St Geminianus by Agostino di Duccio ca. 1442. A popular story of the Saint is that his miraculous intervention saved a child who fell off the cathedral’s 280-foot tall bell-tower. - Duccio, by the way, was the artist who was originally commissioned to work the block of marble that would later become Michelangelo’s famous David.
The 15th-century preaching pulpit in the nave.
From the Museo dell’Opera, the 18th-century frontal formerly used on the Saint’s feast day...
and some nice reliquaries.

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