The pervasiveness of the cult of Saint Agatha in the Etna area and in the city of Catania also invades the Cathedral, dedicated to the patron saint. Agatha is the protagonist not only of the devotional ceremonies that refer to the Cathedral – with the famous reliquary bust of Saint Agatha in embossed silver and enamels, commissioned between 1373 and 1376 to the Sienese Giovanni di Bartolo and covered with precious jewels and votive gifts – but also of much of the building’s decorations. Illustrious patrons, bishops and Spanish viceroys in the modern age asked the artists for different kind of works in which the martyr Agatha, protector of the city, always plays a fundamental role. The paper proposes a selection of episodes from different periods, from the 15th to the 17th century, in which the saint is presented with different intentions, sometimes with simple illustrative purposes, sometimes with a real instrumental use of images. In particular, three moments will be analysed: the still little-studied decorations of the Sacellum of Saint Agatha with wall paintings commissioned by Maria de Avila, wife of Fernando de Acuña, viceroy of Sicily from 1488; the carvings of the wooden choir with scenes from the life and translation of the relics of Saint Agatha made by the sculptor Scipione di Guido from 1590 at the wish of Bishop Giovanni Corrionero and based on ancient hagiographic texts in a fruitful relationship between text and image; the frescoes in the apse basin in which Bishop Innocenzo Massimo in 1628 commissioned an artist specially called from Rome, Giovanni Battista Corradini, to paint a Coronation of Saint Agatha, requested more for a ‘political’ use of the image than for devotion.

The Cult of Saint Agatha in the the Catania Cathedral: Artist and Patrons

Mancuso, Barbara;Pinto, Valter
2022-01-01

Abstract

The pervasiveness of the cult of Saint Agatha in the Etna area and in the city of Catania also invades the Cathedral, dedicated to the patron saint. Agatha is the protagonist not only of the devotional ceremonies that refer to the Cathedral – with the famous reliquary bust of Saint Agatha in embossed silver and enamels, commissioned between 1373 and 1376 to the Sienese Giovanni di Bartolo and covered with precious jewels and votive gifts – but also of much of the building’s decorations. Illustrious patrons, bishops and Spanish viceroys in the modern age asked the artists for different kind of works in which the martyr Agatha, protector of the city, always plays a fundamental role. The paper proposes a selection of episodes from different periods, from the 15th to the 17th century, in which the saint is presented with different intentions, sometimes with simple illustrative purposes, sometimes with a real instrumental use of images. In particular, three moments will be analysed: the still little-studied decorations of the Sacellum of Saint Agatha with wall paintings commissioned by Maria de Avila, wife of Fernando de Acuña, viceroy of Sicily from 1488; the carvings of the wooden choir with scenes from the life and translation of the relics of Saint Agatha made by the sculptor Scipione di Guido from 1590 at the wish of Bishop Giovanni Corrionero and based on ancient hagiographic texts in a fruitful relationship between text and image; the frescoes in the apse basin in which Bishop Innocenzo Massimo in 1628 commissioned an artist specially called from Rome, Giovanni Battista Corradini, to paint a Coronation of Saint Agatha, requested more for a ‘political’ use of the image than for devotion.
978-84-09-41429-1
cathedrals, modern age, modern art, cult of St Agatha, patronage
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/20.500.11769/546122
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