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Photographer's Note

Like most of Europe's gothic cathedrals, the new Florence Duomo was dedicated to the Madonna, with the title "Saint Mary of the Flower", a courtly tribute to the Virgin's role in God's mysterious plan. According to a document of the early 15th century, the "flower" in question is in fact Christ, first fruit of our salvation, germinated on the 'stalk' (Mary) sprung from the 'root' of David's family. The Cathedral we see today is the result of 170 years of work. The first stone of the facade was laid on September 8, 1296, under the direction of Arnolfo di Cambio who, in the same period, oversaw the construction of Santa Croce and Palazzo delIa Signoria. Arnolfo's design was subjected to numerous modifications, however: the most obvious are visible on the church's sides, where the first four windows are narrower and closer together than those toward the east, which are part of an enlargement of the plan due to Francesco Talenti in charge of construction after the mid-14th century. The radiating eastern chapels were finished in the early 1400s, and the gigantic dome designed by Filippo Brunelleschi was completed in just 16 years, from 1418 to 1434; "a structure so immense, so steeply rising toward the sky, that it covers all Tuscans with its shadow", as Leon Battista Alberti wrote at that time. The lantern, designed by Brunelleschi, was built after his death (1446), and the gilt copper ball and cross by Verrocchio, containing holy relics, were set in place in 1466. The last part of Santa Maria del Fiore to be finished was the facade, done between 1871 and 1887 to Emilio De Fabris' design, in a neo-gothic style reminiscent of the gothic decoration of the Bell Tower and side portals of the Cathedral. Like Arnolfo's facade before it, this modem front honors the Mother of Christ: above the central portal is a figure of Mary Enthroned holding a flowered scepter, by Tito Sarrocchi. But the 19th-century program is largely historical and patriotic in character; the mosaics, designed by Niccolò Barabino, represent: over the middle door, Christ enthroned between Mary and Saint John the Baptist, with Florentine saints; over the south door (viewer's right), Florentine artisans, merchants and humanists paying homage to the Faith; and, above the north portal (viewer's left), Charity among the founders of Florentine philanthropic institutions.

Duomo di Firenze

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Additional Photos by Sabrina Pezzoli (Sekhmet73) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 241 W: 155 N: 286] (4189)
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