Sunday, February 05, 2023

The Book of Genesis in Stone

Since the Church begins to read the book of Genesis in the Divine Office on Septuagesima Sunday, I saved these pictures of the exterior of one of my favorite churches in Italy, the Romanesque cathedral of Modena, for today. (We saw the interior on Tuesday, the feast of the St Geminianus, Patron of the church and of the city, and more on Friday.) The façade, constructed at the very beginning of the 12th century, is decorated with four panels by a sculptor named Wiligelmo, representing stories of the Creation, the Fall of Man, and the Flood. These stories are placed on the outside of the church to remind us of our fallen condition and consequent removal from the presence of God, a presence which for Christians is regained inside the Church. The plant and animal motifs inside the church and on its doors show us where the garden of Paradise may now truly be found.

God the creator; the creation of Adam; the creation of Eve; the Serpent speaks to Adam and Eve.

God rebukes Adam and Eve; He expels them from the garden; Adam and Eve begin to work the earth.
Cain an Abel make their offerings to God; Cain kills Abel; God rebukes and curses Cain.
Lamech kills Cain; Noah’s Ark; Noah and his sons leave the ark.
Many Romanesque cathedrals in Italy have a small porch over the door held up by columns which sit on figures of animals, most typically lions.
The bell-tower seen from the piazza in front of the church.
The “fish-market door”, which no longer has a fish-market right next to it.
The apse of the church and the base of the bell-tower.
The bell-tower, known as La Ghirlandina, was originally built in 1179, and raised higher twice in subsequent eras as an expression of Modena’s long-standing rivalry with nearby Bologna. The total height is now just over 282 feet.
A pulpit added to the south side of the church at the beginning of the 16th-century for preaching to large crowds in the square.

The “royal door” on the south side of the church.

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