Wednesday, August 18, 2021

The Cathedral of the Assumption in Bozen, Italy

Since we are within the octave of the Assumption, today we interrupt our series of Nicola’s photos of Ravenna for those of a very beautiful Gothic church dedicated to the Assumption. This is in the city of Bozen (“Bolzano” in Italian), the capital of the region known as South Tyrol (Südtirol) to Germans, and the Upper Adige (Alto-Adige) to Italians. Before the end of World War I, it was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and German speakers are still the majority (62%) of the population; the cultural and artistic influences of the German world are very strong in this area, and with no other information, one might well guess that this church was in Austrian or Bavaria. Last year, we published his photos of another church dedicated to the Assumption in Brixen (Bressanone), about 25 miles to the northeast of Bozen.

It was originally built as a parish around 1300 to replace an earlier Romanesque building, and completed with the addition of the belltower a bit over 200 years later. In 1944, it was severely damaged during an air-raid, and the stained-glass windows, wall frescoes and main altarpiece were all destroyed. What we see today is therefore the result of a lengthy and painstaking restoration project, which I dare say was extremely successful. In 1964, the diocese of Brixen was renamed Bozen-Brixen, and the church was elevated to the status of co-cathedral and residence of the bishop, although the cathedral chapter remains in Brixen.

As is the case with many churches in Italy, and more generally, with those built over long periods of time, the building is not entirely uniform in style. The solidity of the façade and the walls of the nave is greater than those of the apse, more like the Romanesque.
The bell-tower, on the other hand, which was constructed rather later, in the first two decades of the 16th-century, is thoroughly Gothic, and stands at over 213 feet high.
This Gothic portal (under the window further to the left in the photo above) leads into the choir area; the use of it was most likely restricted to the clergy who served the church.
Two votive frescos on the outside of the building; for obvious reasons, it is extremely rare for things like this to be preserved in any condition at all.
An amusingly goofy base for a statue.
A Romanesque portal reused from the church which previously stood on this site.
The Gothic interior, beautiful restored as an architectural space after the bombing of 1944.
The German Gothic mixes very nicely with the Baroque,
An altarpiece of Ss Christopher, Florian (an early soldier martyr, much venerated as a patron Saint against destructive fires, often shown as he is here pouring water on a burning building), Ingenuinus, the founder of the diocese of Brixen, and Hubert, a patron of pilgrims and hunters.
An image on the front of an altar of a man kneeling on a prie-dieu at Mass.
The high altar
Altar dedicated to the Virgin Mary
An altar piece of St John the Baptist, with the Baptism of the Lord in the center, and his parents, Ss Zachary and Elizabeth, to either side. At the top, St George slaying the dragon.
Altarpiece of the Passion
Altarpiece of the Virgin, with episodes of Her life: the Annunciation, Visitation, Birth of Christ and Adoration of the Magi, and St Joseph at top.
The sandstone pulpit, decorated with images of the Four Evanglists.

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