Thursday, August 10, 2017

The Cathedral of Pistoia

As a follow-up to a recent post on the relic of St James the Greater kept at the cathedral of St Zeno in Pistoia, here are some photos of the main church which I took during a wonderful nighttime tour last November. These hardly show all of the church’s artistic treasures, some of which could not really be photographed in the low light.
The Romanesque bell-tower and façade, both of the mid-twelfth century, with considerable alterations and additions made in subsequent centuries.
The high altar, with the Sacrament chapel on the left. The whole medieval sanctuary, including a 13th-century apsidal mosaic by Jacopo Torriti, was demolished between 1598 and 1614 and replaced in the Baroque style. Interventions of this sort were sadly very common in Medicean Tuscany.
The left aisle. The monument seen on the right commemorates Pope Leo XI, Alessandro de’ Medici, bishop of Pistoia for just over 10 months, from March 9, 1573 to January 15, 1574, before his appointment as Archbishop of Florence. During his 31 year reign in the latter See, the Carmelite Saint Maria-Magdalene de’ Pazzi predicted to him that he would be elected Pope, but that his reign would be brief. This prophecy was realized in 1605; elected Pope on April 1st, and choosing the name Leo in honor of the first Medici Pope, Leo X (1513-21), he was crowned on April 10th, and died on the 27th. His papal reign is the eighth shortest in history!
A Madonna of the 15th century.
On the counter-façade, a 13th century fresco of the cathedral’s titular Saint, Zeno, who was a bishop of Verona in the 4th century, and evidently holy enough to be adopted by a city 150 miles away. The tomb of St Atto, shown more clearly in the next photo, is on the lower left.
The tomb of St Atto, bishop of Pistoia from 1134-53, who obtained the cathedral’s famous relic of St James the Greater. His relics were discovered in the church of St John in Corte, and enshrined in this tomb in 1337. In 1786, the tomb was transferred to the cathedral, and the colored marble panel added.
In the right aisle, a triptych of the Crucifixion, with the Madonna and Ss John, James and Jerome (artist unknown, 1424), and a copy of the Annunciation by Passignano.

The preaching pulpit, designed by the famous art historian Giorgio Vasari (1560).
Some bare remains of medieval frescoes in the clerestory.
Several pieces of the balustrade which formerly surrounded the medieval presbytery are preserved in the cathedral crypt.

A sculpture of the Visitation; St Zachary is shown on the right with a cane to indicate his old age.
The Last Supper and the Arrest in the Garden.

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