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Time & Space Travels


PARMA - the cathedral

It was the year 1106 when Pope Pasquale II returned from the Council of Guastalla to Parma. It is the eve of the feast of All Saints: the dedication of the cathedral to Maria Assunta takes place and the florentine Bernardo Degli Uberti, forty-five years old Vallombrosian monk, is consecrated bishop of the city.

With the establishment of Bernardo degli Uberti, papal legate, a determined supporter of the Gregorian reform, the models of reference in architecture and especially in sculpture change, linked to the teaching that the Church wants to impart to the faithful.
He also urges them to walk the path of faith to achieve eternal salvation through the teachings of the New and the Old Testament and the examples of saints like Nicholas and Martin instead of chasing suggestive heresies or continuing to mix "pagan" elements with religion. The Gregorian reform would in fact want more sacred books and less bestiaries ...

But the most of the iconographic project is already realized.
So the most unleashed medieval bestiary is side by side to edifying capitals such as those relating to the Madonna enthroned (the original colors have also been saved), the good St. Nicholas (the saint offers coins to three sisters to distract them from prostitution) or the "classic" "Isaac's sacrifice.

But we also find a curious "wolf monk" (a wolf who bites a bird, a second wolf holding a book with a writing and has a donkey in front of him, sitting on his hind legs, which seems to threaten him with a bundle of rods while he is giving him a lesson).
Probably it refers to Fra Dolcino from Novara or to one of the many "heresies" that often flourished starting from conventual monks. The Gregorian reform strongly condemns these heresies and the voice of the Church seizes the symbols of the bestiaries to express the harsh condemnation.

Inside the cathedral and outside on the frieze that runs through the apses we find all the imagery that not even the good Bernardo has the chance to erase: two-tailed mermaids (beautiful the restored ones in the gallery. Of a two-tailed siren - on the north side of apse - built on a block of sandstone there is now only the shadow ...) hunting centaurs, lions and dragons engaged in combat ....