This is the early medieval, Romanesque basilica of St Nicholas in Bari (Italy). It is one of the most famous, pilgrimage sites in both Southern Italy and Europe as a whole. The reason for this is because it houses the relics of St Nicholas – one of the most important figure in the Christian pantheon of saints. Although today, he is associated mainly with Christmas and gifts, in the medieval period St Nicholas was venerated as a patron saint of sailors and merchants, which made him particularly popular in the bustling ports of the Mediterranean as well as northern seas. Located right on the coast of the Adriatic, with the sea less than a 100 meters away, the basilica St Nicholas in Bari dominated the religious and artistic landscape of the medieval city and overshadowed the nearby cathedral, where the bishop of Bari resided.
Constructed sometime between 1087 and 1197, the imposing structure had also another role, it represented the new religious identity and new, Latin political realities in the southern Italy. Until 1071, Bari was ruled by the Byzantine empire and served as a center of the Catepanate of Italy – it was governed by the Catepan who was the chief Byzantine official commanding the armies of Constantinople in Italy. After these armies were defeated and Normans seized control over Bari, they sought to establish new religious and cultural centers, ones that were associated more with the new political regime, rather than with Constantinople. The translation of relics of St Nicholas, which were brought to Bari from Asia Minor in 1087, offered a great opportunity to create such a new center. Thus, the basilica of Bari is both a great pilgrimage center and a symbolic manifestation of the Western authority in the region that used to be a province of the old, Eastern Roman Empire.
reminds me of the Saidnaya Monastery in Syria. I know I have some old photos of it somewhere I should upload them! thanks for the reminder of travels past!
St Nicholas's original resting place was in Myra, Anatolia, as you know. The ancient church is still there, apparently, along with bits and pieces from the original tomb, though it has seen better days.
You are quite right, I remember reading about somewhat similar paradox, when knights Templar were blamed for the fall of Acre even though they were the ones who sacrificed most defending it. The common accusation was that the city fell because the Grand Master of the Order allowed himself to be killed and all the saints. Since numerous relics were lost in Acre in 1291, it was easy to image that this was a type of penalty from saints displeased with the actions of Christians in the Levant… I was not aware that the church in Myra is partially preserved – it looks very interesting! I That would be a great site to visit one day, thank you for mentioning it and, as always, thank you for taking the time to view, read this and comment – I know it sounds repetitive, but it is always a pleasure to get some positive feedback, especially from a talented artist like you All the best from Warsaw!
It seems St Nicolas was buried in a reused ancient sarcophagus in Myra, which survives with a large hole in the side of it, presumably courtesy of the Genoese 'translators'. The hole was probably enlarged by people taking fragments of the sarcophagus to treat as sacred relics in their own right. I believe I heard that what remains of the sarcophagus is prone to filling with water, which some believe has healing properties.
great description, now, when only a handful of people going in the school for learning and only handful live his faith
Yorus information are very important to understanding our roots, tradition, customs, and even some language phrases