Basilica and Cathedral of Sarsina
Basilica and Cathedral of Sarsina
The Cathedral of Sarsina immediately attracts visitors for its remarkable size. The year of its construction is not certain, but most scholars are inclined towards the years around the year 1000.
Built in Romanesque style, it has a sober and elegant facade; the different color of the bricks, typical of the Romanesque style, allows us to understand that the Cathedral has undergone changes over the centuries.
The lower arches were supposed to support a terrace, probably never built. In the lunette above the entrance there is a modern mosaic depicting S. Vicinio with the episcopal miter and the famous "chain"; immediately above there is a large window, on whose function the researchers are uncertain: it was used either as access to the terrace or for the display of some relics.
Higher up there is a single lancet window and a cross-shaped window, which was originally a small oculus. The bell tower is certainly subsequent to the construction of the Cathedral; one of the least restored parts is the apse, clearly visible from Piazza San Francesco (gardens). The "murello" of the churchyard has existed since 1600: above it there are funeral memorial stones surmounted by capitals.
The interior of the Basilica is solemn and austere: the ceiling is trussed and the plan is a Latin cross (i.e. with different arms), with the central nave exactly twice as wide as the side aisles and longer than these by the way apse; each nave is separated by 12 columns. Just at the beginning of the left nave, there is the baptismal font, difficult to date, at the corners of which stylized goat heads protrude.
Baptism is considered the "door" of the sacraments, consequently the entry into the Christian community. Proceeding along the nave we place the tomb of Mons. Carlo Bandini, the last bishop residing in Sarsina. Subsequently we find the chapel of the Blessed Virgin of the Rosary opened in 1693; the altar is surmounted by a wooden altarpiece from the 17th century, with fluted columns painted in white and gold.
Along the margin of the altarpiece there are 14 squares representing the mysteries of the rosary and in the center there is a painting of the eighteenth century. representing the Madonna of the Rosary adored by S. Domenico. At the end of the left nave is the Sacramento chapel, where an ancient marble tabernacle is placed, decorated with six Ionic columns placed on a high plinth, from 1555.
At the end of the center nave, two openings can be seen on the floor showing the beginning of the original plan of the demolished crypt. The support points of the columns that supported the entrance are visible in the two marbles. In front of the altar another opening shows the funerary inscriptions of 3 bishops buried in the crypt and a portion of the terracotta floor of a building from the Roman era.
The other hatches on the floor of the presbytery show: the one on the left a small part of the crypt flooring; the one on the right is an earth tomb which is presumed to have housed the body of S. Vicinio for some time. On the left there is a valuable ambo of the century. XII, Franco-German style. The symbols of the four evangelists are represented: the angel of St. Matthew, the lion of St. Mark, the eagle of St. John and the calf of St. Luke.
At the foot of the altar you can see a marble bas-relief, with a gable pediment, datable to the century. X, executed on an engraved marble of the century. VII. Christ enthroned is depicted, with St. Gabriel with the fan on the left and St. Michael on the right trampling on the devil.
In the arcades of the presbytery there are some paintings, the most important of which: "La Visitazione" by Michele Valbonesi; in the center "The Annunciation" created by Mattia de Mare, a painter of Sicilian origin, in the 18th century .; below we find "The Madonna and Child, St. Lucia and the souls of Purgatory" by anonymous of the sec. XVIII. After the curve of the apse, in the first arch, there are traces of a fresco from the Romagna Gothic school. Below we find one of the most valuable paintings of the cathedral, "The Mass of St. Gregory the Great", attributed to the Bolognese painter Carlo Cignani in the sec. XVII. Finally a last altarpiece, by an anonymous local author of the century. XVII, represents "The Trinity".
The chapel closes the right nave and seems to detach itself from the homogeneous whole of the Church with its gilded stucco decorations, made to be carried out in 1755 by Bishop Paolo Calbetti.
Under the altar are the relics of S. Vicinio, while the "chain" is kept in the tabernacle. Above the altar we find a painting representing "The Madonna and Child with the crowned Saint Vicinius" by the Ferrarese painter Ippolito Scarsella, known as Lo Scarsellino (erroneously attributed to the painter Michele Valbonesi for a long time).
Along the walls there are four votive paintings made by Valbonesi illustrating the "miracles" of S. Vicinio.
The Basilica is located in Piazza Tito Maccio Plauto in Sarsina.