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Time & Space Travels

GENEVA -St. Pierre Cathedral

The splendid Geneva, the home of CERN's most modern research labs, reveals an important past in his cathedral of St. Peter, St. Peter's Cathedral overlooking the city.

The work of the cathedral began in the mid-twelfth century and lasted for about a century and a half.

The capitals that decorate the cathedral speaks about a Middle Ages that from Romanesque passes to Gothic.
The symbols represented are no longer "rough" as in most Romanesque churches in Italy.
Cutters are no longer artisans who descend from the Como valleys or from Campione to decorate the Pievi of Tuscany or Emilia.
They are "artists" capable of dressing up elegant 12th-century fashionable women's dresses and representing chimeras with the canonical goat's head that shines from the lion's back.

The themes represented are the 'classic' ones of the Romanesque cathedrals: animal beasts charged to visually support the sermons of the prelates, biblical scenes and some warning to the faithful.

The three two-tails sirens of the cathedral give us a plastic image of this period.
The one on the southern wall, perhaps the oldest, has characters similar to those that populate the Italian churches: big hands a little naïf and a dimension in which the horizontal prevails on the vertical.
The two-tailed mermaid on the entrance pillar (which still bears traces of color) is more "vertical", much more organized and processed in the cut.
The one on the pillar near the altar is almost 'Gothic': more vertical than horizontal, essential, lean and bony ...

The capital of Daniel was beautiful: the prophet Abacuc was quiet for Judea when he was entrusted by God to feed Daniel, who is staying in Babylon in the lion's grave. At his protests (he says he does not know the road to Babylon and still has no idea where the lion's ditch is) he is taken for the hair by the angel who in a flash takes him to his destination.

In the pillar of Herod (holding the head of John the Baptist), the dancer Salome (on the left) will be rewarded with the head of the Baptist, a beautiful chimera, a poor believer who bites the tail of a dragon In turn, counteracts, Jesus Christ holding a book next to an angel who in turn brings another (note that the angel, according to the dictates of the Byzantine-Roman tradition, gives gifts with his hands covered), a splendid Satan with The head on the chest (remembering a blemma), the symbols of the evangelists Luca and Marco and two angels bearing gifts ... to nothing: the figure between the two angels did not like the Reformers who decided to chop it!

Interesting is also Abraham's pillar with the intention of sacrificing his son Isaac taking him always for hair (the Swiss of the Middle Ages had a strong appetite for taking on the hair ...).
The divine hand intervenes to stop the killing. On the right her mother Sara, with her hand on her belly (perhaps recalling her late and miraculous pregnancy) and the slave Agar who holds her son Ishmael. The two women wear a fashionable long sleeve dress dating back to 1150, admirably made by the artist who carved the cape (almost offensive to simply call it "cutter"). In the same pillar they find a scene of marriage, presumably a representation of the sacred love between Christ and the Church. The bride is accompanied by a bridesmaid while the bridegroom has witnessed St. Peter. Both women wear an elegant pleated skirt for the occasion. A prominent place is also reserved for the prophet Melchizedech (with cartouche).

In another pillar there are monks with an animal body, probably proponents of some heresy (As you can see in Parma or Strasbourg, the Church was used to represent with the body of an animal the ones who condemned ...).

On the pillar of the Resurrection, where an angel carries the map of the resurrection, there are the pious women who found the empty tomb and, on the left, a bishop. Probably this is Arducius de Faucigny, bishop of Geneva between 1135 and 1185, the cathedral's commissioner. On the same pillar there are two pilgrims: one carries on the shoulder the shell, a symbol of pilgrimage to St. James of Compostela.

Lions, harps, acrobats, and Samson who kill the lion reach other capitals.

Among the reliefs one represents children, including one with the ball in his hand. It seems that in the twelfth century it was used to celebrate the resurrection in the cathedral with games (including ball games) and dances to which the prelates also participated

The decorative plant of the cathedral was drastically depleted by the Reformation that eliminated all that did not respect Orthodoxy Reforming: from 1541 for nearly two decades Calvino worked from the cathedral of St. Peter. Calvin directed the organization of Geneva until his death in 1564.

The Middle Ages were closed.