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Saint Mary and Saint Claudius Abbatial Church. Itinerary 1 and 3


Detailed description:

In the year 1071, Beatrice di Lorena and her daughter Matilde di Canossa founded a Benedictine monastery in Frassinoro and endowed it with vast estates and considerable riches. The abbey church was embellished with extraordinarily rich furnishings and exquisite marble sculptures, thus distinguishing it from the other churches in the mountains of Modena, whose structural and decorative parts were mainly built from sandstone. The marble for these prized sculptures of Frassinoro mainly came from the quarries of Carrara, but many were salvaged pieces which had once belonged to the city of Modena in Roman times, and to the ancient Tuscan city of Luni. the abbey and the church were destroyed by a landslide in the XV century; the latter was rebuilt and the few remaining pieces used in the present-day church, the bell tower and the adjacent rectory. Columns and capitals, sculpted with great decorative inventiveness, form part of the chapels, used as holy water fonts or pedestals for statues, or laid on top of one another to form the unusual baptismal font inside the church. Others can be seen in the church square or in the mullioned windows of the bell tower and the rectory. A few odd pieces are displayed inside the church itself. Various fragments, two of which are built into the wall under and beside the mullioned window of the rectory, show interwoven relief carvings in a linear and abstract style. According to some experts, these date back to the early Middle Ages and come from a very old chapel which stood where the abbey was later built. Worthy of note is a relief sculpted on a triangular slab, perhaps originally a lunette or part of the side of a sarcophagus. It depicts a figure between two gryphons, perhaps a symbol of the victory of Christ over sin. Recent criticism, while recognising the ancientness of the sculptures on this slab, agree in assigning it to the XI century. Of the precious furnishings from the abbey, a splendid Eucharistic dove still remains in Frassinoro. Dating back to somewhere between the end of the XII and the beginning of the XIII centuries, of Limoges manufacture, it is a copper ciborium in the form of a dove, finished in chased work and decorated with enamel and gems. In medieval times it was set on a plate and suspended above the altar using chains.




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