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Italy

Lucca


Church of Saint Michele in Foro





St_Michele_Lucca


 

Summary


Dating back to 795 the Roman Catholic Church of Saint Michele in Foro, Lucca is dedicated to the Archangel Michael. Its architecture is in the Romanesque style with four tiers of blind arches and the interior consists of arcade supporting Corinthian columns. It contains works of art and a bell tower dating back to the 12-14th century.

 

 
The Church of Saint Michele in Foro dedicated to the Archangel Michael dates back to at least 795 when mention was first made to the construction of the church and a monastery and hospital. 

Located in the Piazza San Michele it was built over the ancient Roman Forum (in Foro) in the heart of the historic part of Lucca. Rebuilt in 1070 on the orders of Pope Alexander II the work of which was to continue until the 14th century. It was until 1370 the seat of the Major Council, the communities most important assembly.

The impressive façade we see today dates from the 13th century and contains a number of sculptures and inlays.  At the bottom are a series of blind arcades with the main portal located in the central one. Just above the main portal, the image of St. Michael can be found slaying a dragon as mythical creatures look on. Above that is a rose window, flanked by two lions and above rise four tiers of small columns inlaid with intricate carvings and topped with human heads, flowers, and animals. Above each row is a frieze on which real and mythical animals can be found. At the top of the façade is a 4-meter tall statue of St. Michael the Archangel flanked by two trumpeting angels. At the lower right-hand corner of the façade is a statue of the of the Virgin Mary by Matteo Civitali, this was placed there in 1480 to celebrate the end of the plague which effected the city until 1476.  

The church is in a Latin cross plan and is built in Romanesque style. The interior contains the nave with monolithic Corinthian columns supporting arcades, it has two aisles with the transept and semi-circular apse. Along the sides of the aisles are a number of side chapels and altars and a number of paintings. The works of art include the work of Filippino Lippi who became one of the most accomplished painters of the late 15th century; the Madonna and Child which is an enamelled terracotta by Andrea della Robbia; and a relief of the Virgin sculpted by Raphael da Montelupo.

Giacomo Puccini (1858 - 1924), one of Italy's greatest operatic composers, was born in Lucca and sang in the church choir; he is marked by a plaque.  The crypts can be found under the altar.

Access to the bell tower is provided from the southern transept. Built in the 12th-14th centuries, the tower has a series of single, double and triple mullioned windows. The tower did have an additional floor, but this was demolished during the rule of Giovanni dell'Agnello (1364-1368), Doge of Pisa due to the fact that the bells could be heard in Pisa.


 
St_Michele_NaveSt_Michele_Rear_view
           Nave looking towards Altar           Nave looking towards Entrance



St_Michele_Altar_sideSt_Michele_Altar
                        Altar                                             Altar from side



St_Michele_side_altarSt_Michele_Pulpit
                        Side Chapel           Pulpit       



          

 

Copyright - All  Photographs copyright Ron Gatepain

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