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.


Among the sculptures of the Cathedral of Modena and the Abbey of Nonantola, there are many extraordinary animals. There are wild lions and other felines, birds, fishes, dragons, basilisks, manticores and many others, commingled with fantastic creatures. It is natural to ask oneself why they are more abundant than other subjects. This wonder increases if we consider that in modern times religious buildings have drastically reduced decorative elements, practically banning them. What has changed? What is the meaning of these figures in the culture of ancient times? Why in the Middle Ages was it common to depict the fiercest and most frightening wild beasts in churches? It is not easy to give an answer. One should first understand the thought of those who built and decorated these sacred places, making choices that we would now consider bizarre if not daring. This short guide aims to help the reader to search for the deep, hidden meaning of these decorative elements in the light of mythological, biblical and liturgical sources.




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AUTORE Corpi celesti Il bestiario divino

Giovanna Caselgrandi


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