Monday, August 22, 2016

The Basilica of the Assumption on Torcello Island

The large lagoon at the top of the Adriatic Sea which is called “Venetian” from its most famous site and city also contains more than 60 other islands. There are several hidden treasures among them, one of the most interesting of which is the island of Torcello, about seven-and-a-half miles to the northeast of the city. An episcopal see was established on the island in the 7th century, and although it was suppressed two centuries ago, its cathedral remains, dedicated to the Assumption of the Virgin, whose octave is today. (The entire lagoon, including Venice itself, has suffered from a notable decline in population over the last several decades, and the group of islands which includes Torcello is now in the parish of nearby Burano.)

Our good friends of the Schola Sainte Cécile are currently wrapping up a pilgrimage to Venice, Italy, joined by our Ambrosian expert Nicola de’ Grandi, who took these photos of this wonderful reminder of Venice’s long association with Byzantium and Byznatine art.

Mosaic of the Virgin Mary in the main apse, second half of the twelth century; the Apostles in the band below are about a century older.
Many churches within the former Republic of Venice ignored some of the common changes in church architecture which developed in the Counter-Reformation period, such as the removal of rood screens.
Last Judgment on the counterfaçade, also twelfth century. 
To the right of main apse, the mosaic of this secondary apse shows Christ the Pantocrator, with Saints Ambrose, Augustine, Martin of Tours and Gregory the Wonderworker beneath; the presence of St Gregory is another example of the strong Byzantine influence in Venice and environs. 
The pulpit on the left side of the rood screen,
Part of the sanctuary from inside the rood screen
These marble pieces which define the barrier of the rood screen were recycled from the original version of the church. 

More fragments of the older church incorporated into the pulpit.

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