Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Advent Calendar: Roman Door 9

The Byzantine doors of the Basilica of San Paolo fuori le Mura.  The doors were donated by the Consul Pantaleone di Amalfi and produced in Constantinople by an artist named Theodoro in 1070. They were the main doors to the basilica before the fire of 1823. This fire almost completely destroyed the basilica and caused great damage to the doors. The reconstructed basilica was given a larger central door and in 1966, when the Restoration Laboratories of the Vatican Museum finally repaired the damage, the Byzantien doors were placed in the Holy Door opening facing inward to keep them from being exposed to the elements. They were further restored in 1999 by Sergio Angelucci, in preparation for the Jubilee of 2000. There are 54 panels on the doors, depicting Old and New Testament scenes as well as the martyrdom of the the apostles.

Detail of one of the panels

For Behold, darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people; but the Lord shall rise upon thee, and His glory shall be seen upon thee, and the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising. - The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light; and they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined.
From Handel's Messian: Part I
Bass Recitative and Air

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