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The Catherdal

( Originally Published 1909 )

THE Cathedral of Ravello was originally dedicated only to the Assumption of the Virgin, but later the name of San Pantaleone 1 was added when the miracle-working relic of the saint's blood came to be considered the most precious possession of the church.

The foundation of the Cathedral is lost in obscurity by some this is attributed to Orso Pappice, consecrated first bishop in 1086, by others to a Nicola Rufolo, who lived in the beginning of the twelfth century.

For a description of the church previous to 1786, when the restoration by Bishop Tafuri deprived it of most of its architectural beauty, we are mainly indebted to the " History of the Ancient Republic of Amalfi," by Dr. Francesco Pansa 2 (1671-1718), and as the author was a native of this Costiera, he presumably describes the Cathedral as an eye-witness, and we can accept his details, though obliged to reject his historical deductions, and to regret the inaccuracy with which he copied the inscriptions. He can tell us nothing of its foundation, except that the

Romans were "determinate persone per l'amministrazione delle loro false cose," who at a certain

date changed their customs and made Rome the mistress of the world and the head of Christendom, after which they wandered into this neighbour-hood, and among numerous churches built by them and endowed with priceless relics was the Cathedral of Ravello. The façade of the Cathedral stands upon an elevated terrace, and was formerly entered by a porch supported by four massive columns of African marble and adorned with small pillars, arches, and coloured stones, while two flights of white marble stairs, each containing seventeen steps, led up to the terrace from the Piazza below. Within the porch were several tombs, now no longer in existence, and a stone which has been affixed to the south wall of the interior, bearing date 1682, and stating that, as heirs of Sebastiano Fenice of Ravello, the House for the Redemption of Captives at Naples was bound to pay 200 ducats to ransom any poor Ravellese enslaved by the Turks.

This porch has been removed and the columns have disappeared, but the beautiful bronze doors of the principal entrance remain. They resemble those of Trani and also those of Monreale in Sicily, and were given by Sergius Muscetola in 1179, the same date as those of Monreale, where also is added "Barisanus Tranensis me fecit." The subjects of many panels are identical, and we may fairly conclude that Barisanus of Trani was the artist also of the Ravello doors. Arabesque designs of delicate tracery, with rosettes in high relief at the corners, divide the panels. In the upper part are represented the Virgin St. John holding the Book of Revelation adoring angels Our Lord, one figure in the act of blessing, another with the words

EGO SUM VIA VERITAS ET VITA,'

with symbols of the Evangelists and

IC, XC, Aw

Lower down is the Deposition from the Cross, and on the arms of the Cross

HAIIOKA eHxwCHC

St. John, St. James, and St. Simon. Below these the Resurrection, and

HANACTACIC

St. Peter, St. Philip, and St. Matthew.

At the feet of St. Nicholas of Bari, a small kneeling figure represents the donor with these words, "Memento Domini Famuli tui Sergi Mussetule di Jordani." Then follow St. Bartholomew, St. James, St. Andrew, St. Thomas, St. John the Baptist, St. Elias, and the Virgin with the letters

MP. ev,

St. Eustace, St. Elias, St. George, St. Paul. Then panels with archers, men fighting, floral designs, heraldic emblems, and the following inscription

ANNOMILLESIMO
CENTESIMOSEPTUAGESI
MONONOINCARNACIOIESU
XP DN NR MEMENTODNEFA
MUL TU SERGIOMUSETULE
UXORISUESICLIGAUDE / FI
LI I SSU ISMAURO1IO HE5/FI
LI ASUAA NNAQOTI STAPOR
TAFACEREAGITADHO
NOREMDEIISANCTEMA
RIEVIRGINIS.

(" In the one thousand one hundred and seventy-ninth year from the Incarnation of Jesus Christ our Lord. Remember, Lord, thy servant Sergius Musetula and his sons Mauro and Johannes and his daughter Anna for that he hath this door made to the honour of God and Holy Virgin Mary.")

The church was supported by 16 columns, two being of verde antico, and consisted of a nave and two aisles, with a cross aisle, in the centre of which stood the high altar beneath an ornate baldacchino of marble and mosaic, approached by three steps ; and on this raised choir were 52 stalls of walnut wood, carved in designs of open work, presented in 1320 by Bishop Pietro Catalda for the use of the Chapter. The pulpit and ambo occupied their present position, but with-out the modern pillars that now deface them, and the walls of the church were covered with frescoes, which, if we may judge from the two half figures that remain near the entrance, were extremely fine.

It is difficult at the present day to imagine what must have been the effect of the whole beautiful colouring of mosaics and marbles, for in 1786 Bishop Tafuri removed many of the valued possessions, whitewashed the interior, and reduced the Cathedral to the condition in which we behold it. We have already referred to the demolition of the vestibule at the principal entrance, the high altar was removed to the end of the church, and, in spite of the protests of the commune, the choir stalls and baldacchino disappeared, except such portions of the latter as are believed to have been built into the episcopal throne. The pulpit was mutilated by a pilaster constructed so as to enclose much of the mosaic work, while other portions were taken away to the bishop's residence, where they were found built into the walls when that house came into the possession of Mr. Reid. Two pillars of verde antico were sold to King Charles III. for the royal chapel in the palace at Caserta.

The magnificent pulpit, which, though mutilated, remains the glory of the Cathedral, was given by Nicola Rufolo in 1272.

The west end rests upon spiral columns of marble and mosaic, supported by lions and lionesses in the act of walking, the capitals being formed of pierced leaves in high relief. The elaborate designs in mosaic are worthy of close inspection. The panels represent peacocks drinking, birds singing amid twining tendrils, griffins and other monsters surrounded by borders of diverse character, yet 'in perfect harmony of colour and delicate design.

The three end panels show the arms of the Rufoli, the Lamb holding a Maltese cross, and the Virgin and Child.

The reading desk is formed by an eagle standing upon a small spiral column at the base of which are two faces, one laughing, the other crying.

The following inscription records the dedication :

VIRGINISISTUDOPUS
RUFULUSNICOLAUSAMORE
VIRSICLIGAITAEPATRIAE
DICAVITHONORE
ESTMATHEUSABHISURSO
IACOBUSQUOQUENATUS
MAURUSETAPRIMO
LAURENTIUSESTGENERATUS
NOCTIBISITGRATUMPIA
VIRGOPRECAREQUENATUM
UTPOSTIPSABONADET
EISCELESTIADONA
LAPSISMILLENISBIS
CENTUMBISQUETRICENIS
X P I BISSENISANNIS
ABORIGINEPLENIS

[VIRGINIS ISTUD OPUS RUFULUS NICOLAUS AMORE
VIR SICLIGAITAE PATRIAE DICAVIT HONORE.
EST MATHEUS AB HIS URSO JACOBUS QUOQUE NATUS
MAURUS ET A PRIMO LAURÉNTIUS EST GENERATUS.
HOC TIBI SIT GRATUM PIA VIRGO PRECAREQUE NATUM
UT POST IPSA BONA MT EIS CELESTIA DONA
LAPSIS MILLENIS BIS CENTUM BISQUE TRICENIS
CHRISTI BISSENIS ANNIS AB ORIGINE PLENIS.]

(" For love of the Virgin, Nicolaus Rufulus Sicligaita's lord dedicated this work for his country's honour. Of them were born Matheus, Urso, Jacobus too and Maurus. Laurentius was begotten by the first named (i.e. Matheus).

" May this be pleasing to thee, pious Virgin, and do thou pray thy Son that hereafter He may grant to them the same good heavenly gifts. When a thousand two hundred twice thirty and thrice six full years have elapsed from the birth of Christ.")

The name of the maker is given as follows :

EGOMAGISTERNICO
LAUSDEBARTHOLOME
ODEFOGIAMARMORAR
IUSHOCOPUSFECI.

[EGO MAGISTER NICOLAUS DE BARTHOLOMEO
DE FOGIA MARMORARIUS HOC OPUS FECI.]

The name " de Fogia " may either indicate that Master Nicholas himself came from Foggia in Apulia, or that he was a member of a family already established at Ravello and bearing that name, which clearly points to their Apulian origin. There is evidence1 that at a later date, during the reigns of Robert of Anjou and Joanna I., such a family existed at Ravello, but it must remain uncertain whether they had actually settled there before the date of Master Nicholas' work. Indeed, it is not impossible that they were his descendants, as they were popolani and not nobles. A certain Bartolommeo de Fogia is related 1 to have been roughly handled by one of the great families in the days of King Robert. He was a trader at Ravello, where he

kept a shop, but, owing to some differences with the Accongiaiochi, he was attacked by them and their retainers and badly beaten. This raised such an uproar in the town that the King himself had to intervene and exercise his royal authority to impose peace between the factions. The feud broke out again in Joanna's reign, and Bartolommeo was obliged to flee.

On either side of the pulpit door is a head in profile in marble relief upon a mosaic ground. These have been frequently spoken of as the children of Nicholas and Sigilgaita Rufolo; but as the will of the former specifies four children, all sons, the female head, if indeed it be female, presents a difficulty. Strangely enough, there is flat contradiction between art critics who have been on the spot as to which head is female and which male, whilst Lübke considered both to be female, and the latest German writer 2 thinks them both to be male, not portraits but symbolical or merely ornamental reliefs, with the hair of the one dressed In ancient fashion and that of the other in the style of the time.

Assuming one of them really to be female, it has been plausibly suggested that they are the portraits of Nicholas and Sigilgaita themselves, although this supposition is open to the objection that the donor and his wife were elderly people in 1272 and their lineaments must have been very highly idealised by the artist who represented them as so young.

Over this door there now stands a crowned female bust of great beauty. The noble and expressive face is more than life-size ; the hair rolled back on either side falls behind in two plaits, and is surmounted by a princely crown, whilst very long and massive earrings set with jewels fall low on the shoulders.

No record of the origin of this beautiful work of - art exists, but an anecdote told by Notary Bernardino Battimelli of Ravello in his protocol for the year 1540 - shows the high esteem in which it was then held. He says :

" I remember in the aforesaid month and year, the Spanish Viceroy Don Pietro di Toledo sent for the marble head which- stands on the lectern in the Cathedral, and much honest resistance was made, so that the first time he that came returned empty-handed ; but shortly after he came back, and it was necessary to send it to Naples in his keeping; and having sent the Magnifico Giovanni Frezza, who was in Naples, and Ambrose Flomano from this place to his Excellency, after much ado, by the favour of the glorious Virgin Mary and by the virtue of these messengers, from thence, after a few days, the said head returned.

" The people were much displeased when it was carried away, and for its return they made feasting and rejoicing, and for it they spent good ducats. Thanks be to God ! Let us always say, thanks be to God ! "

And truly the Ravellese had good cause for rejoicing that their treasured bust did not follow so many other things taken by the Spaniards to Spain

We have no evidence whatever, either documentary or traditional, of the authorship of the bust, of the date of its execution, or indeed of its original situation. It does not now actually form part of the structure of the pulpit, but stands poised, without any secure fastening, in a wide gap that has been formed by cutting away, rather roughly, the larger part of the upper mosaic panel over the doorway. We have no means of knowing when this gap was cut, or for what purpose, and it is impossible now to ascertain whether the bust originally formed part of the pulpit, or indeed was contemporaneous with it at all. When that part of the structure was entire the bust may or may not have crowned it, but at any rate it cannot originally have been there in its present position.

This uncertainty is the more unfortunate because round this bust, its date and authorship, has raged one of the most hotly contested disputes in the history of Italian art Whence came Nicolò Pisano ? whence came his art ? was Tuscany or the south, Pisa or Apulia, the cradle of that first revival of classic sculpture so closely assodated with his name ? This is not the place to discuss such a theme. Of more local interest is the question, "Who or what is represented ?" A real woman ? a Rufolo, a della Marra, a queen of Naples? Or is it a symbolical figure? the Madonna, Mother Church, the City of Ravello ? The uncertainty is just as great. The only allusion to the bust between that of Notary Battimelli in 1541 and the year 1836 is in Pansa's "History of the Ancient Republic of Amalfi," published in 1724. He calls it' a bust representing Queen Joanna, but does he mean Joanna I. who reigned from 1343 till 1382, or Joanna II., 1414 till 1435 ? Perhaps he never even asked himself which he meant. As Count Filangieri remarks, this title was probably hazarded with the same levity with which to this day the people of Naples ascribe to their popular Queen Joan I. deeds, legends, villas, and palaces which have nothing whatever to do with her. Dr. Karl von Lützow states that when he visited Ravello in the autumn of 1867 the sacristan said it was Queen Joanna. Similarly, in 1872, in reply to Dr. Dobbert's 4 inquiry, a loafer in the street at Scala called the other remarkable bust found in that town, and now in the Berlín Museum, "Queen Joanna."

These wild guesses of uneducated, ignorant villagers add no weight to Pansa's allegation. They do not amount to anything like a local tradition. That no tradition has been handed down from of old is pretty clear from the fact that Notary Battimelli only knows of " the head that stands on the lectern," without any more precise designation, and from the silence of Camera, the learned archaeologist and annalist of Amalfi, who in 1836, in his History of Amalfi," only says " a female bust," though in a footnote he laughs at Pansa's Queen Joan theory.

But from shortly before 186o till quite recently the commonly received opinion was that the bust is a portrait of Sigilgaita, the wife of the donor of the pulpit. The origin of this theory has been wrongly attributed to Crowe and Caval-caselle by recent critics. The earliest statement of it is in an unpublished MS. of the late Mr. Francis Nevile Reid, written in 1854, who says, " Over the doorway there is a crowned female bust, evidently a portrait, probably that of Sigilgaita, the wife of, the donor, her name being mentioned in the inscription." Next comes the second edition of Murray's " Handbook for South Italy and Naples" (1858), with the words, " The arch of the doorway is surmounted by the bust of Sigelgaita Rufolo," 2 the first edition (1853) having merely said "a female bust."

The name of Sigelgaita Rufolo was inserted by the late Sir James Lacaita, who edited the second edition of the Handbook. Sir James was Mr. Reid's brother-in-law, and we may be sure that he had no other ground for the statement than that adduced by Mr. Reid in his MS.

Then in 1860 Schultz, in his monumental work on " Medioeval Art in Southern Italy," after pointing out that the bust can hardly represent Queen Joanna, because it is. without the Angevin lilies which are constantly present in the crowns of that dynasty, remarks with judicious caution, " One might think of the Sicligayta mentioned in the inscription, although it may be that she and her husband are portrayed in the medallions in the corner of the doorway below." 1 Not till 1864 did Crowe and Cavalcaselle, in an extremely inaccurate account of the pulpit, state, erroneously, that " the key of the arch of the doorway is a fine classical bust of Sigalgaita Rufolo." In these latter years sundry arguments have been adduced to prove that it cannot be Sigilgaita's portrait. Some competent critics deny that so fine a bust could have been executed in Southern Italy at so early a date. Others think to trace in it the same handiwork that they see in the pulpit, the work of Bartolommeo di Nicola da Foggia. Others will not allow so much resemblance, but seeing a strong influence of Niccolò Pisano, admit that it may be contemporaneous with the pulpit. If so, why should it not be Sigilgaita ? Count Antonio Filangieri objects 1 that in 1272 Sigilgaita already had a good many grandchildren, and therefore could not have been portrayed as a beautiful woman in the noontide of her beauty, forgetting that idealised portraits of the great and noble are not strictly bound by trammels of chronology. Queen Victoria when an aged lady long continued to figure on stamps and coins as she had been, not as she was. In the Gladstone monument at Hawarden the figure of Mrs. Glad-stone, who died at the age of eighty-eight, is that of a lady in early middle age. Filangieri also maintains that the sumptuary laws and simplicity of life of that day would have forbidden the representation of a woman of Sigilgaita's generation with diadem and jewels.

Neither of these objections is at all conclusive against the Sigilgaita theory. A graver difficulty is to be found in the little medallions on each side of the door. If these really portray the donor and his wife, how could she again have been represented in far nobler guise above the pulpit? This difficulty is insuperable if we allow that the bust originally stood more or less where it does now. But if, as some believe, it was originally the ornament of Sigilgaita's sepulchral monument, now no longer extant, and was moved to the pulpit after the removal or destruction of that monument, the difficulty disappears.

On the other hand, Count Filangieri's own theory, that the bust, being of later date than the pulpit, portrays Sigilgaita's beautiful daughter-in-law, Anna della Marra, the wife of Matteo Rufolo, and a daughter of the same noble family from which Sigilgaita herself sprang, whilst avoiding all these difficulties, is unsupported by the smallest scrap of positive evidence of any kind.

Putting on one side Lübke's rash early dictum, "without doubt the Madonna," which he after wards modified to " a Juno-like woman," there remain Professor Venturi's theory of " Mater Ecclesia," and that of Dr. Rolfs, who argues from analogy that the bust is a symbolical figure of the city of Ravello. These mutually destructive and somewhat fanciful speculations will surely suggest others equally likely or unlikely to future critics, but the final judgment will probably be that of Bertaux, who says of this and the Scala bust : " The two busts of Ravello and Scala, the one on the pulpit sparkling with mosaics, the other in a grey hall at Berlin, are chefs-d'oeuvre without a history. Vainly should we try to write their romance."

In the Berlin Museum there is another. bust, bearing a certain resemblance to that at Ravello, which till about 188o stood in a niche over a doorway not far from the Cathedral of Scala. It had been moved there at some time or other from the Casa Romano, but its origin and real character are even more obscure than in the case of the Ravello bust. OT inferior execution, and with less dignity of expression, the crowned head and the details of dress and coiffure are somewhat similar in design. It may even be a feeble replica of the Ravello bust, but cannot be the work of the same artist.

Beneath the pulpit, and approached between the lion-supported columns, is the little Rufolo chapel, with a painting on wood of the Virgin known as Santa Maria della Bruna. She is robed in red with a blue mantle, crowned, and seated on a gilt throne, holding the Divine Child in her arms, while in one side compartment is St. John with a lamb at his feet, in the other St. Nicholas of Bari, Bishop of Myra, with a crosier and a book supporting three golden balls, while before him a kneeling figure presents a flagon and basin.

Nicola Rufolo, by his will dated October 17, 1288, which is preserved in the Cathedral archives, bequeaths his possessions to his four sons on condition of their maintaining the pulpit and chapel beneath it in good repair, and certain lands to the Chapter for frequent masses to be said at this altar, especially on May 23 of each year ; but these fell gradually into abeyance, for in 1577 mass was said there twice a month, and towards the close of the seventeenth century it ceased entirely. In 1786 the marble altar was removed and a pillar to support the church was built so close to the pulpit as to enclose some of its beautiful mosaics, while several portions of mosaic and marbles were removed entirely. Thus the panels in the episcopal throne representing birds and mythical animals are believed to have originally belonged to the pulpit, while other parts, now preserved in the Palazzo Rufolo, were discovered built into the walls of the Bishop's residence, when that house fell into the possession of Mr. Reid, who offered to return them to the Cathedral if the pulpit were restored to its original form and freed from the pilaster which now disfigures it an undertaking that may be fulfilled by the present owner of the Palazzo Rufolo should sufficient funds ever be raised for the restoration.

Facing the pulpit is an ambo of a date anterior to that of the other mosaics, as indicated by the larger tesserae used, the inlaid work in porphyry, and the different character of the designs. The rectangular panels are divided by a door over which are two peacocks ; the reading desk is supported by an eagle holding in its claws a scroll on which are these words, " In principio erat Verbum," while on either side, and screening the steps, are triangular mosaics representing Jonah, who is on one side being swallowed and on the other ejected by a marine monster. On the edge is

TINUS CONSTRUXIT PRAESUL OPIMUS,

and on the back

SIC CONSTANTINUS MONET ETTE PASTOR OVJNUS
ISTUD OPUS CARUM QUI FECIT MARMORE CLARUM.

This refers to Bishop Constantine Rogadeo, second Bishop of Ravello (1094-1150), son of Mauro Rogadeo, Patrician of Ravello ; and in the Diocesan Visitation of Bishop Fusco, 1577, this same Constantine Rogadeo is referred to as the donor of this ambo and also of the high altar.

To this high altar, splendid with marbles and mosaics of the earlier time, Matteo Rufolo (son of Nicola and Sigilgaita) added a magnificent baldacchino in 1271 or 1279, which must have rivalled the pulpit given by his father, but which has not so happily survived to the present time. Pansa says it was supported by four columns of Egyptian marble, with an architrave of marble and mosaic bearing the Rufolo arms with the symbols of the Evangelists at either corner, while above rose a marble dome of open-work resting on twenty-four small pillars surmounted by a cupola bearing the Agnus Dei. This latter may be the much defaced disc over the font in the north wall of the church, which, with the finely sculptured eagle (St. John) over the outer door, is all that remains of this beautiful work of art.

Of the dedicatory inscription, three parts form the steps to the Bishop's throne, the other the threshold to the chapel of San Trifone ; but as in either case the lettering is turned inside, it is not possible to verify the lines as given by Pansa. His careless version of what are obviously rhyming Leonine hexameters, with the usual mediaeval disregard of Latin quantity, runs thus

HOC MARMORIS OPUSRUFALUS MANDAVIT HONORE VIRGINIS

ET NATI FIERI, PRIMOQUE DECORE, CUI CONIUX EST ANIMA

VIRO SINT II, QUOQ GRATI, LLUM PRIMUS LAURENTIUS ORDINE

NATI BARTHOLOMAEUS ADEST HUIC PROBITATE SECUNDUS

SIMON, ET IIS JUNIOR FRANC1SCUS CRIMINE MUNDUS, II

GENITI PRIMOGENITUS NICOLETTA JO: MATTHAEUS PUER URSO

QUIBUS NE CORPORA DAMPNES TERTIUS HINC SEQUITUR MAR-

-MORE SERMONE DATUR, QUIS SUCCEDAT AVO, FAMA, VITA,

QUI BEATUS HOS OMNES, TU SUMME AMORIS PIETATE PATERNA

TEMPRA PRO MOLTA SALVA DEFENDENTO GUBERNA.

ANNO MILLESIMO BISCENTUM SEPTUAGENO, HIISQUE OVUM

MISCE TEMPUS SIC ADVENA DISCE

MAGISTER MATTEVS B. S. DE NARNIA FECIT HOC OPUS.

Camera, in his "Duchy of Amalfi," I considers Matteo, the eldest of the four sons of Nicolò Rufolo (Màtthus, Urso, Jacobus, Maurus), to have been the donor, and adds, "The genealogical inscription given by Pansa being full of errors, we propose to restore it to its genuine reading," which he proceeds to do as follows

HOC MATTHEUS OPUS RUFULUS MANDAVIT HONORE

VIRGINIS ET NATI FIERI PRIMEQUE DECORE,

CUI CONJUX EST ANNA VIRO STIRPS HIC QUOQUE NATUS

ILLORUM PRIMUS LAURENTIUS ORDINE NATI

BARTOLOMEUS ADEST HUIC PROBITATE SECUNDUS

SIMON. ET HIS JUNIOR FRANCISCUS CRIMINE MUNDUS.

SUNT GENITI PRIMOGENITO. NICOLETTA JOH. MATTHEUS PUER VRSO

QUIBUS NE CORPORA DAMPNES.

TERTIUS HINC SEQUITUR MATTHEUS SIMONE NATUS.

QUIS SUCCEDAT AVO, FAMA, VITA, QUI BEATUS.

NOS OMNES TU SUMME DEUS PIETATE PATERNA

TEMPORA MARIA SALVA DEFENDE GUBERNA,

ANNO MILLENO BISCENTUM SEPTUAGENO

RISQUE NOVENO MISCE TEMPUS SIC ADVENA DISCE

MAGISTER MATTHEUS, B. S. DE NARNIA, FECIT HOC OPUS.

Accepting the proper names as given by Camera, the , following emendations would appear to offer a more satisfactory form of the hexameters:

HOC MATTHEUS OPUS RUFULUS MANDAVIT HONORE

VIRGINIS ET NATI FIERI PATRIAEQUE DECORE

CUI CONJUX EST ANNA VIRO SINT HI QUOQUE GRATI

ILLORUM PRIMUS LAURENTIUS ORDINE NATI

BARTHOLOMAEUS ADEST NULLI PROBITATE SECUNDUS

SIMON ET HIS JUNIOR FRANCISCUS CRIMINE MUNDUS

HI GENITI PRIMOGENITI NICOLETTA IOHANNES.

MATTHAEUS PUER URSO QUIBUS NE CORPORA DAMPNES

TERTIUS HINC SEQUITUR MATTHAEUS SIMONE NATÜS

QUI SUCCEDAT AVO FAMA VITAQUE BEATUS

HOS OMNES TU SUMME DEUS PIETATE PATERNA

TEMPORA PER MULTA SALVA DEFENDE GUBERNA

ANNO MILLENO BISCENTUM SEPTUAGENO

HISQUE NOVUM 1 MISCE TEMPUS, SIC ADVENA DISCE

(Or) RISQUE NOVEM MISCE TEMPUS SIC ADVENA DISCE.

It may be rendered thus :

"This work Matthaeus Rufulus ordered to be made in honour of the Virgin and her Son, and for the adornment of his country. To him, the lord, whose wife is Anna, let these be grateful.

"Laurentius their first in order of birth, Bartholomus is here, to none second in probity; Simon, and younger than they Franciscus pure of crime. These are the sons of the first-born (i.e. Laurentius) : Nicoletta, Iohannes, Matthaeus, the boy Urso, whose bodies may'st Thou not damn. Here follows a third Matthaeus, Simon's son; may he his grandfather follow, blessed in fame and in life. All these do Thou, O highest God, with fatherly affection for many seasons save, defend, and guide. In the thousand two hundred and seventieth year, and to these years add the new season. Thus, stranger, learn or In the thousand two hundred and seventieth year, and to these add nine. Thus, stranger, learn the time." (If we read novum or unum in the last line, the date will be 1271; but if we read novena it will be 1279.)

The white marble altar bore this inscription as quoted by Pansa :

ARAM CONSTRUCTAM CERNITIS, ARAM, QUAM CONSTANTINUS CONSTRUXIT PRAELIBATIS DOMINUM SUI CORDE ROGATIS, SITIS, AT INSOMNII EJUS MARMORES ROGATE.

This version is clearly very corrupt : the inscription probably formed four Leonine hexameters, indicating that the altar was given by Constantine Rogadeo, second Bishop of Ravello (1094-1150), son of Mauro Rogadeo, Patrician of Ravello.

Matteo Casera, giving no authority for his version, quotes the inscription on the high altar as follows :

ARAM MARNÌORIBUS CONSTRUCTAM CERNITIS ARAM QUAM CONSTANTINUS CONSTRUXIT PASTOR OVINUS. LAUDETIS DOMINUM, MUNDO QUOQUE CORDE LIBETIS.

To the left of the high altar is the Chapel of San Pantaleone, built in the seventeenth century, in place of an older one of the same name. Here is preserved a phial containing some blood of the saint, believed to liquefy in May and July, or whenever it is brought into contact with a piece : of the true cross. The monks of St. Basil, who had a monastery at Ravello, are said to have brought the relic from the East, and on the suppression of their religious house to have presented it to the Cathedral ; but no mention is made of the phial until 1577, after which the Acts of Episcopal Visitation speak of it with other relics.

Over the altar, a painting of the martyrdom of San Pantaleone depicts the saint as a youth bound to an olive-tree, while the executioner, a bearded man dressed in red, is stooping over his knife to discover why the edge has become blunt.

The other chapels contain little of interest, and their history is merely a record of the extinction of one noble family after another, the donors of valuable gifts and endowments which have now disappeared, while the very name of many chapels mentioned in the scanty archives is unknown.

Among the sepulchral monuments the best preserved is that of Matteo d' Afflitto (ob. 1609), walled into the side of a chapel when the new pavement was laid a short time since, but it previously occupied a place near the steps of the Chapel of S. Pantaleone. He is represented in armour, surrounded by symbols of war.

A few other stones built into the south aisle conclude the record of the noble families interred within these walls.

Among these, two relate to members of the Confalone family: Nicolò, priest of the cathedral (ob. 1577), and Lucas Confalone (ob. 1601).

Another stone, the inscription on which is undecipherable, has figures of Our Lord, St. Peter, St. Paul, St. John the Baptist, and St. John the Evangelist, together with the arms of the Frezza family.

A few panel paintings in the sacristy have been attributed to Andrea di Salerno, the best of them being the Coronation of the Virgin, the angels in the Assumption of the Virgin, and a St. Sebastian.

In the same place are a few silk vestments embroidered in beautiful designs, and some lace of considerable antiquity.

The priest's door in the southern side has a grotesque Norman capital.

The belfry retains the ancient form, and consists of the basement and two upper stories, each containing an arch surrounded by red tiles with a white marble cornice. Inside each arch are two smaller arches divided by a marble pillar and surmounted by a circular opening, while above the second story a frieze of white marble columns, supporting intersecting arches of coloured stone, completes the ornamention of the tower.

In the middle of the nineteenth century the tower was struck by lightning more than once, and imperfectly repaired, so that it threatened to become a complete ruin. Large fissures would open and shut when the bells were rung, and the central pillars of the windows were crushed beneath the weight of the unsupported arches. A subscription list was opened by the late Mrs. Reid, to which the Ravellese at home and abroad contributed, and were generously aided by the many visitors, who, as lovers of Art, appreciate the ancient campanile. A careful restoration was completed in 1902 under the superintendence of the Government Department for the Preservation of Ancient Monuments, which preserves intact the whole exterior.

Ravello:
Ravello

The Catherdal

Other Buildings

The Rufoli And Other Noble Families

Plazzo Dei Rufoli And The Legend

Minori-atrani-pontone-minuto-scala

'decamerone,' Second Day, Fourth Tale

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