COLLANA FIGURAE

The Cathedral of Modena and

the Abbey of Nonantola

speak to us by means of their figures.

A universal language, always alive,

made even clearer and more topical

by these handy booklets.

 

We are facing the façade of the Cathedral, in the afternoon. The Cathedral’s face starts to become more familiar as we look at it, like a person with distinctive, revealing features. This façade is reaching out to communicate something to the visitors and passers-by through its architectural features and the many signs and images inserted in the stones covering the brick walls, with slabs of various sizes and colours. The horizontal and vertical lines speak out, together with the turrets, the rose window, the gallery, the prothyrum and the portals with scores of images, signs and inscriptions.

Owing to their size and content, the four large slabs of Genesis make up the fundamental communicative structure of the façade and of the entire Cathedral. Whatever was their original location, now they are here and here should be admired.

They are a work of art dating from the early 12th century, which convey many messages and meanings to the on-looker. It is not possible, though, to understand them completely owing to the enormous, unbridgeable distance separating our mentality from our ancestors of one thousand years ago. Nevertheless, thanks to the unbroken tradition of the Church and the Holy Scriptures, we can observe these images carefully and perceive the messages that they still communicate.

The first eight chapters of Genesis – the first book of the Bible – are the source of the tale. From this text, some episodes were chosen and interpreted (with interesting variations) in a very essential manner. At the same time, they are rich in symbolic references. All this is due to the communicative wisdom of an exceptional theologian of the Cathedral, Master Aimone, who entrusted the work to an extraordinary sculptor, Master Wiligelmo.

 

THE FOLLOWING BOOKS ARE PART OF THE SAME SERIES:

THE “SPEAKING” CATHEDRAL

GEMINIANO IN HIS OWN HOME

THE DIVINE BESTIARY

THE EASTER MISTERY

THE PROPHETS

ANSELM DUKE, ABBOT, SAINT

HISTORY AND JUDGEMENT 

 

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