In ecclesiastical buildings, the door and its decoration have a specific symbolic meaning as a threshold, a place of passage from the outside to the inside, from mundane to sacred space; they thus reinforce the distinction of ecclesiastical spaces and act as a border between the sacred indoors and profane outdoors. The inscriptions on the portals often emphasize this passage between the two dimensions; the door to salvation and, or more generally to door of Heaven. Inscriptions were mostly placed inside churches, displayed on liturgical furniture or marking sacred spaces. In Italy, from the eleventh century onwards, they became increasingly common on liturgical furniture in churches and monuments, but also in open spaces. The so-called “Gregorian Reform” marks a turning point in this development. Especially in Rome, public lettering, with a specific script derived from manuscripts, moved from internal to external spaces. In doing so, such inscriptions became symbols of authority and were used to renew not only ancient objects, but also buildings and public places. Portals of Roman churches, such as S. Pudenziana and S. Apollinare, are decorated with sculptures and text, as is typical of the European Romanesque; moreover in the twelfth century, the porticoed atrium appears and it is a significant element for the artistic strategies of the reformed Church.

From Shadow to Light. Inscriptions in Liminal Spaces of Roman Sacred Architecture (11th–12th Century)

Stefano Riccioni
2019

Abstract

In ecclesiastical buildings, the door and its decoration have a specific symbolic meaning as a threshold, a place of passage from the outside to the inside, from mundane to sacred space; they thus reinforce the distinction of ecclesiastical spaces and act as a border between the sacred indoors and profane outdoors. The inscriptions on the portals often emphasize this passage between the two dimensions; the door to salvation and, or more generally to door of Heaven. Inscriptions were mostly placed inside churches, displayed on liturgical furniture or marking sacred spaces. In Italy, from the eleventh century onwards, they became increasingly common on liturgical furniture in churches and monuments, but also in open spaces. The so-called “Gregorian Reform” marks a turning point in this development. Especially in Rome, public lettering, with a specific script derived from manuscripts, moved from internal to external spaces. In doing so, such inscriptions became symbols of authority and were used to renew not only ancient objects, but also buildings and public places. Portals of Roman churches, such as S. Pudenziana and S. Apollinare, are decorated with sculptures and text, as is typical of the European Romanesque; moreover in the twelfth century, the porticoed atrium appears and it is a significant element for the artistic strategies of the reformed Church.
Sacred Scripture / Sacred Space. The Interlacing of Real Places and Conceptual Spaces in Medieval Art and Architecture
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/10278/3709994
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