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SAINT PETER'S CHURCH IN TUSCANIA

Sep 16, 2014

The Church of Saint Peter in Tuscania

Leaving Tuscania from the main gate and from the present medieval walls, we will approach the church of San Pietro, wich is located on a hill bearing the same name.The church dates back to the 8th Century and was built above an old pagan temple, probably Jupiter's.At first sight we are impressed by the façade, completely white made of travertino marble; it has three portals and the main one is Cosmatesque, with three orders of columns, representing the Holy Trinity.Above that gate is a beatifull rose crown, ceaseled in three circles also representing the Holy Trinity .The four marble rectangular, around the rose crown, represent the simbols of the four Evangelists in a sort of cross line.From top right the angel represents Matthew, across down left the lion reprents Mark, above the lion is the eagle meaning Luke and on the other side down below is John with the cow. All these simbols show the way the Evangelists interpreted the gospels.

Once we entered the church we will be impressed by the three aisle; the abse still has part of the frescoes, but all the rest of the church has lost the paintings, because of a tremendous earthquake that hit the area in 1971. Let me tell you a curiosity! The rose crown of the façade fell after the earthquake, but was reconstructed by a German couple, in a sort of gigantic puzzle and now stands again in the original place. The same thing is happening for the frescoes, because the same couple is still doing the same thing in the Bishop's palace, close to the church.
Back to the church you will notice a long line of Etruscan sarcophagus: some of them are painted, others have lost the paint. That shows that the Etruscan statues and later the Roman ones, were painted, not like in the Hollywood movies that show Roman towns full of white marble statues.   We will now take a look at the floor; it is Cosmatesque and similar to the Sistine Chapel, the church of Saint John in Latheran and many others; the patterns on the floor mark the place where all the dignitaries, the clergymen and the nobles had to stand in front of the main altar. The Commoners will stand behind and beside, women on the balconies; as you can see up on the walls there are holes where you had beams for the balconies.
We now descend one of the two stairways and reach the cross-vaulted crypt. The first thing we will notice are the 28 marble colums, all different, coming from the near Roman forum. In the little apse are the painting of the three Martyrs protector of Tuscania, Secondiano, Verlano and Marcelliano.
In front of this abse was made the movie Romeo and Juliet by Zeffirelli.