San Giovanni in Zoccoli Church
HISTORY AND DESCRIPTION
Some scholars think during the 1900’s throughout that the church was entitled to S. Giovanni Battista because of the pottery he has in his hand this hypothesis cannot be accepted because the church celebrates S. Govanni Evangalist every December 27. The rose window of the front, in addition, placed side by side is our symbol of excellence, two magnificent eagles are placed side by side around the rose window of the front. all round?? The church had that strange name to be distinguished from the other three temples of Viterbo dedicated to S. Giovanni, contemporary and perhaps older than this. (S.G. in Sonsa, in Valle, in Petra). The inside, a basilica form in pure romanic style, with a framing roof, is divided in three naves of circular pillars overlapping, decorated with small and rough capitals on which center arches lean full with a metal ring in retreat; the ones across the church are wider and taller. Nearby is the apse of the right nave is placed on the wall a valuable polyptych form 1441 by Francesco d’Antoni Zacchi from Viterbo, know as il Balletta (1). Signature and date appear in the planking on the food of the main pattern “Hoc opus fecit Franciscus Anthonii de Viterbo MCCCCXLI.” In the center compartment is depicted the Madonna in throne with child between S. Giovanni Battisa, S. Giovanni Evangelista and S. Paolo; in the said pillar, to the left of the other, the angel Annunziante, S. Francesco, S. Leonardo and S. Lucia; to the right the Madonna Annunziata, S. Antonio Abate, S. Elena and S. Caterina d’Alessandria. In the iron rod, at the center, the Trinity and then the Four Evangelists. The scene of the alter-step, considers the part more attractive of the painting, suggested to the left: S. Giorgio and the dragon, Domiziano made to plunge S. Giovanni in a boiler of boiling oil, S. Giovanni reconstructed Drusiana, S. Giovanni changed twigs to pebbles of gold and precious stones, S. Giovanni with the prayer, made the temple of Diana to collapse, S. Giovanni drinks the poison that killed the condemned to death and the adoration of the Wise Men. In the central apse, there is a single opening with a stained glass window with S. Giovanni Evangelista, is placed under a tabernacle “sacra olea”, the Episcopal throne of stone of the most archaic form. (2) Belonging, probably, to the primitive church. In the left nave opens a chapel so called “Our Lady” (3), Depicted with the Child in a loose wall fresco was taken from a house in Viterbo and put in a golden polyptyc; the frontal eighteenth-century marble altar is very elegant. The small environment also holds some tombstones of families from Viterbo and a “torn” fresco from an unclear time (fifteenth century) that suggests and image of S. Antonio Abate. It is one of the few Romanesque churches of Viterbo, whose construction date is not known and cannot even be approximated. To date back to possibly to the twelfth century, when the Castrum Viterbii, attested on the hill of S. Lorenzo, the first known forms of expansion in the surrounding villages, well protected at a later time by sections of the exposed sides of the castle walls. There are reports- for some not questionable- that on a bell, struck by lightening and recast at the end of the seventeenth century, was engraved the date 1037. As much inconsistency is the attribution of this church of the parchment of the year 823 the monastery of Monte Amiata to remember iuxta castrum quod vocatur Viterbium, scilicet in Sunsa, ecclesia scante lohannis inibi constructa. S. Giovanni in Sonsa or Sconcio, as was said in the late Middle Ages, this church was part of the Cunicchio neighborhood, at the corner of the actual road S. Maria delle Rose. And therefore it is credible that the church, built models on Lombard, was consolidated in a becoming stage of the pre-Roman form, between the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. Until the opening of the magnificent rose window with the double corolla of arches and travertine columns in the emblems of the Evangelists in low relief and of the providential construction of two low- arched flying buttresses, that ride the path to the buttresses, for the stability of the façade. In the lunette of the portal, defined by a frame of stars (stylized foliage clearly influenced from Southern Italy), unknown artist painted during the rebuilding of the last century, the Evangilist “intention to follow a vision of His Apocalypse”. In the 1880 restoration and the renovations that followed the latest air strikes, the church, with the loss of the cannon, took its final appearance that today we admire and wonder for the simplicity and humility of the structure. An English traveler at the turn of the century wrote, “the walls and roof beams are bare and gloomy. The only decorative element is constituted by some molding that serves as rudimentary capitals. Everywhere here there is an atmosphere of severity, mortifications, and other worldly aspirations.
San Giovanni in Zoccoli Church
Traduzione di Danielle Maddock, University of Nevada, Reno e Alicia Bertram University of New Mexico, Albuquerque. Programma USAC presso Università degli Studi della Tuscia.
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