Saturday, December 31, 2016

The Norcia Earthquake & Siena: Goodby to 2016

This gilded wooden Madonna, originally found in the Cathedral of Santa Maria Argentea in Norcia, is currently on display in a art show divided between Siena's Cathedral crypt and Santa Maria della Scala.  The statue is part of the Bellezza Ferita (Wounded Beauty) exhibition of artworks rescued in the October 30, 2016 earthquake that devastated
a town in Umbria.

Originally part of an Assumption, in this setting she is raising her eyes upward, not to heaven, but to the semi-destroyed church from she was rescued.  Arms flung outwards, Mary seems to be supplicating help and mercy for Norcia.

The Cathedral of Santa Maria Argentea in Norcia,
(above), was originally built in the 3rd century A.D. on the site of a Rome temple dedicated to Athena in her guise of the goddess of good fortune, with the "argentea" denoting one of her attributes:
a "shining" goddess.  The ancient church, which embraced Christianity but preserved the memory of Athena in its official name, was restructured in the 11th century in the Romanesque style, torn down in the 16th century and was rebuilt between the 16th and 18th centuries in what is been variously described as Renaissance (mirroring when it was begun) and
Neoclassical (reflecting when it was finished).

One can only hope that, seeing what is left of Santa Maria Argentea, that it will rise again from the rubble, along with rest of Norcia.

I covered the 1993 Uffizi bomb blast for BBC World Service, the result of an explosive set off in by the Mafia, killing six people, including an infant carried out lifeless by a fireman.  Looking at this image at the exhibition, which shows another fireman carrying out a Christ child sculpture from the church of San Pellegrino in Norcia, I couldn't help being reminded of another tragedy,
which damaged downtown Florence.

The panels already brought to safety and leaning on wall depict St. Benedict and his sister, St. Scholastica.

Both are exhibited, so that visitors can figuratively touch the cultural identity of the
earthquake area, and contribute to its rebirth, along with that of Siena.  The Tuscan city is financially troubled due to the near collapse of its signature bank, the Monte dei Paschi di Siena, founded before Colombus discovered America, in 1472!

For centuries, Santa Maria della Scala, located directly across from the steps of Siena's Cathedral, gave rest and shelter to pilgrims walking the via Francigena to Rome.  It is a fitting place to host Bellezza Ferita.

It is the wish of Beautiful Florence's less than faithful blogger on this New Year's Eve,
that humanity absorb the heartbreaking scenarios that 2016 unfolded and
commence 2017 with hope, looking forward to
rejuvenation and reconstruction,
 built on the
cornerstone of true
fraternity & sisterhood.

Buon Anno from
Beautiful Florence
                                           -- Rosanna

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