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GiorgiaV @ParvaVox
, 22 tweets, 19 min read Read on Twitter
When visiting #Rome, tourists usually (and comprehensibly) focus on its #ancient remains. Today for the series #EarlyMedievalPills I'll take you through the #Carolingian city of Pope Paschal I (817-24) who, in only 7 years, left a permanent mark on #Roma's sacred topography 1/11
First I need to tell you about his family: he was the son of Bonosus and Theodora and he was very attached to his mother whom he wanted to be immortalised in the stunning #mosaics decorating that little jewel that is the Chapel of St Zeno in Santa Prassede #Roma 2/11
"Theodora Episcopa": lots of speculation about the reasons why she was called bishop-ess. Two possibilities: either Paschal I's father was a bishop and the honorific title extended to his wife, or Paschal paid homage to his mother by granting her a title of distinction 3/11
Santa Prassede definitely is a church you should NOT miss in #Rome: the #mosaics of the apse and the triumphal arch were also part of Paschal's renovation. Here you can admire Paschal's portrait, his monogram and a representation of the Heavenly #Jerusalem 4/11
To give you an idea of the colossal renovation program of Santa Prassede undertaken by Paschal I, he transferred 2300 saints' bodies from the #Roman catacombs to this church and you can still see the inscription commemorating the relic translations (…) 5/11
Paschal also renovated Santa Maria in Domnica on the Caelian hill and we owe him another breathtaking #mosaic where he's portrayed kneeling at the feet of the enthroned Virgin with Child. Also see, above the Virgin, the risen Christ flanked by angels and saints 6/11
This time you'll notice an inscription below the #mosaic:
"This house, once reduced to ruins, now gleams perennially decorated... and its glory shines as Phoebus in the sky... O Virgin Mary, to you Paschal the virtuous happy bishop has founded this regal hall..." 7/11
And what is the Virgin holding in her hand, you might wonder?
it's a mappa, the handkerchief used to start the public games in #ancient and late antique #Roman cities (you'll see it in consular diptychs for instance) also featuring in #Byzantine representations of the Virgin 8/11
Paschal did not stop there, and also decorated with #mosaics the apse of Santa Cecilia in Trastevere, where Christ is portrayed between the Apostles Peter and Paul. Here Saint Cecilia puts her arm around Paschal who holds a model of the church in his hands 9/11
Below Christ and his 6 companions you can see 12 lambs representing the apostles going in procession through the city gates of Bethlehem and #Jerusalem towards the central "lamb of God" standing on top of a small hillock out of which run the four rivers of Paradise 10/11
Paschal's building projects mark a crucial moment in the process of papal appropriation of the city of #Rome as the 3 churches were placed along the major routes of stational liturgy. Built for the glory of God & the saints, they're today also a monument to Paschal's glory 11/11
If I might recommend you some readings to prepare your next visit to #Rome focusing on the early #medieval city, these books will provide you with all the info you need ⬇️
and an all-time classic
Did you think this was all Paschal I left us? Of course, not!
Next time you visit #Rome and the @Musei_Vaticani make sure you'll stop in the 16thC Chapel of St Peter Martyr where the precious relics of the Sancta Sanctorum are displayed
And here you'll be able to admire some amazing objects donated by Pope Paschal I to the Treasury once located in the oratory of the papal residence at the Lateran Palace #Roma. The treasury is known as "Sancta Sanctorum" because of the preciousness of the relics once held there.
among the precious objects in the Sancta Sanctorum #Rome, you can admire Pope Paschal's enamelled Cross, the earliest of its kind that survived the passing of time. It has 5 small compartments for relics and is decorated with episodes from the infantry of Christ. A true beauty!
And we not only have the cross, but also the silver casket Paschal I commissioned to contain it. Look at that sliding lid with the enthroned Christ between the Apostles Peter (with his keys) & Paul (with a book) 😍
Also, the 4 rivers of Paradise are depicted below the throne!
I meant *infancy of Christ*, of course! 🥴
but the most remarkable of Paschal's gifts to the Sancta Sanctorum is the cruciform casket he commissioned to contain a jewelled cross unfortunately lost since 1945! Here you can see the inscription explicitly identifying Pope Paschal: PASCHALIS EPISCOPUS PLEBI DEI FIERI IUSSIT
its iconography is telling: in the centre you have Christ officiating the mass between the Virgin Mary and St Peter. The scene framed by Paschal's inscription is a powerful one, conveying a precise ecclesiological message: the pope is now the representative of Christ on earth!
Inside both caskets a silk cushion supported the Cross: the eastern fabrics were decorated with winged horses and geometric patterns. They've been dated to sometime before Paschal's pontificate, which means that they were sown and reused as cushions for the cross reliquaries
By the way, colour pictures of the #medieval silk fabrics in the Vatican Museums can be found online here:
I know there are some people who might be interested in them here on #medievaltwitter 😉
to conclude on the objects commissioned by Paschal I for the Sancta Sanctorum, I recommend you again to read Erik Thunø who wrote a wonderful book on their iconography and its connection with the sacred relics these objects contained.
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