Saturday, May 19, 2007

The Arca of Saint Cerbone, Massa Marittima

The Duomo of St Cerbone at Massa Marittima

Tomb of St Cerbone 1324
Duomo, Massa Marittima

Saint Cerbone Healing the Sick 1324
Marble, height of portion shown cm 37. Detail on Tomb of Saint Cerbone, 1324.
Cathedral, Massa Marittima

St Cerbone Being Thrown to the Bears (detail) 1324
Marble, height: 37 cm (size of detail)
Duomo, Massa Marittima
The picture shows a detail of the relief on the Tomb of Saint Cerbone, representing the scene of St Cerbone being thrown to the bears by the barbarian Totila. The beasts can be seen at the Bishop's feet, the barbarian is in the box on the left.

St Cerbone before the Pope 1324
Marble, height: 37 cm
Cathedral, Massa Marittima

Massa Marittima is a town in the Maremma (southwest of Tuscany) not yet adversely affected by the tourist trade.

Its patron is Saint Cerbone, a former bishop of the town in the sixth century.

The Duomo is dedicated to him. The Duomo itself was first built in a pre-Romanesque style in the 12th century in order to shelter the remains of St. Cerbone. The majestic façade of the Duomo in Romanesque style has relief panels depicting St. Cerbone’s life.

His remains rest in the Arca, a tomb shrine, which is within the Duomo.

The Arca was executed in 1324 by the Sienese sculptor, Goro di Gregorio (active in the first half of 14th century in Siena). He was an artist from the Sienese school of sculptors formed in Siena under Nicola and Giovanni Pisano in the 13th- and 14th-centuries.

On each side of the Arca are episodes of the saint’s life.

Until the 1950s the Arca was located beneath the high altar of the cathedral. It is now located in the early fourteenth-century choir of the cathedral. It has been suggested that the arca was only placed beneath the high altar in the 1480s and that prior to this date, the Arca was a free-standing monument located in the north aisle of the cathedral.

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