"Gargoyles & Graffiti"chronicles architectural elements that I find interesting or unique in my travels. Gargoyles are my passion, but today graffiti (which I hate but am learning to love as it is everywhere) is as much a part of architecture as the gargoyles and decorative railings that thrill me.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Great Architectural Features of Cathedral at Lucca

Lucca Cathedral
St. Martin Cathedral in Lucca, Italy is chock full of the most amazing architectural features. I could have stayed there for hours, but alas, we only had a little time there. Our guide was awesome, but we had a lot of ground to cover that day.

Holy Water font Lucca Cathedral
The entire Cathedral is done in marbles, including the floors, much of the walls and the ceiling is mosaic tiles. The Cathedral is both Gothic and Romanesque.

Interior of St. Martin Cathedral at Lucca
Floor of St. Martin Cathedral at Lucca

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

More on the Lucca Cathedral: A Gargoyle's Dream

St. Martin's Catheral at Lucca is a gargoyle's dream. From the gorgeous ceiling to the resting place for the Volto Santo (the Holy Face of Jesus), the Cathedral history goes back to Pope Alexander II, former Bishop of Lucca. The Pope built the Cathedral on the site of a former Church to accomodate the Holy Face of Jesus.

The Holy Face is now housed inside a very secure location shown here.

Holy Face at Lucca Cathedral

From the Sacred Destinations.com site Lucca Cathedral ... 

According to medieval legend, Nicodemus did all the carving work but the face, which he hesitated to complete for fear of not doing it justice. He fell asleep, and upon awaking found the face beautifully carved - the miraculous work of an angel. The Crucifix of the Holy Face was buried in a cave for safekeeping, where it remained for centuries.
It was rediscovered by Bishop Gualfredo, who was on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land when its location was revealed to him in a dream. To allow God to decide where the Crucifix should be kept, the bishop set it adrift on an unmanned boat in the Mediterranean Sea. The Volto Santo arrived on the shores of northern Italy, where the Bishop of Lucca, also prompted by a dream, put it into a wagon with no driver to determine its final location. The two oxen pulling the wagon stopped of their own accord at Lucca in 782.
The Volto Santo was placed in the Church of San Frediano, but the next morning, it was found to have been miraculously transferred to San Martino. For this reason, the legend explains, San Martino was designated the cathedral of Lucca (an honor previously held by Santi Giovanni e Reparata).
As usual, the real story is probably a little less exciting. There is no known mention of the Volto Santo before the 11th century, and for stylistic reasons it seems to be a 13th-century copy of a 11th-century original, perhaps necessitated by pilgrims chipping away at it. The original may have itself been based on an earlier model, perhaps a Syrian work of the 8th century.
The Volto Santo of Lucca was highly revered in the Middle Ages and attracted pilgrims from across Europe. Many copies were made and distributed, Lucca produced coins stamped with its image, the medieval French invented a St. Vaudeluc from a corruption of its Latin name (vultum de Lucca), and King William II of England (d.1100) was said to have sworn oaths per Vultum de Lucca ("by the Holy Face of Lucca").
There are many more great architectural features of this beautiful Cathedral, which I will discuss in another post.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Lucca Revisited

Cathedral of St. Martin in Lucca
Lucca was a fairy tale place, a place that I not only loved to visit ... but also a place I could see myself moving to. It is just that special. We arrived on the Holland America Westerdam and there was a huge storm while we were in Lucca. Later that night, the rains continued after we left the port of Livorno. Unfortunately it caused landslides, which led to the death of seven people. Very sad situation. My condolences to the families.

St Martin's facade in Lucca

The walk around Lucca started out wonderful. Our guide was amazing. She was an Italian woman who had grown up in California, and then returned to her country of birth as an adult. Therefore both her English and Italian were impeccable. She was nice too. Just lovely.

our lovely guide in Lucca

Here she is again
The tour included the Cathedral, another Church and some statues honoring the opera singers, including Puccini. One guy from our group wandered off to try to locate the plaza where they honor him. I wasn't that brave, as the place was a bit of a maze and I am really glad I didn't. He got lost and we almost had to leave him behind.