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Ravenna

Ravenna, a city of art and culture, is known mainly for its early Christian and Byzantine religious buildings. The city enjoyed a period of rebirth from the end of the 10th century thanks to Ravenna archbishops who sponsored the construction of new religious buildings and the restoration of the great basilicas.

  • Personalities

Personalities

Charlemagne

In 784 Charlemagne was in Ravenna. He admired the city’s splendid buildings, which testified to a grand history. He decided that Aachen should be built following that example, as he wished to evoke the sacral aura and veneration of antiquity in his own capital. The Basilica of San Vitale, first of all, was chosen as one of the models for the Palatine Chapel in Aachen.The pope granted to Charlemagne the permission to remove “everything that is on the floors or attached to the walls” of the palaces in Ravenna. Columns, marble, vases and statues, mosaics and ornaments were transported up the Po River, over the Alps and into the Rhine. Three years later Charlemagne returned to Ravenna and was received by the archbishop Grazioso, a pure, simple man endowed with a prophetic spirit that would impress Charlemagne. During his third stay, Charlemagne completed his project to carry away spolia from the city by taking possession of the bronze equestrian statue which people believed to be Theodoric. 41 42

Otto I Fig. 16

Fig. 16: Otto I – Statues of Otto I, right, and Adelaide in Meissen Cathedral. Otto and Adelaide were married after his annexation of Italy. Credit: Kolossos, Wikimedia Commons

Fig. 16: Otto I – Statues of Otto I, right, and Adelaide in Meissen Cathedral. Otto and Adelaide were married after his annexation of Italy. Credit: Kolossos, Wikimedia Commons

The archbishop of Ravenna, Peter, who held power over the city for 40 years, was present when Otto I was crowned in Pavia in 951. Otto I went to Ravenna for the first time in 963 to oversee the siege on Berengar II at San Leo. On that occasion he ordered the commissioning of the imperial palace. The archbishop of Ravenna was present in Rome together with the emperor during the synod which saw the deposition of John XII and the election of Pope Leo VIII. Otto returned to Italy in 966 and, besides travelling to Rome to resolve the difficult situation afflicting the papacy, he went to Ravenna because the archbishop had been imprisoned and the property of the church sacked during a revolt of the nobility led by a deacon named Raniero. On that occasion, with the Pope’s consent, Otto granted the Empress Adelaide a lifetime usufruct over the income from Ravenna’s property. From that time on, Ravenna became de facto capital of the Kingdom, and the Ottonians made lengthy stays there. 43 44

Adelaide Fig. 17

Fig. 17: Bronze statue of St. Adelaide in Seltz, Alsace. Credit: Ralph Hammann, Wikimedia Commons

Fig. 17: Bronze statue of St. Adelaide in Seltz, Alsace. Credit: Ralph Hammann, Wikimedia Commons

In the epitaph written for Adelaide (931-99) Odilon of Cluny defined her as the mother of Burgundy, Francia Media, the land of the Latins and Saxony, which we could translate as mother of Europe. Adelaide, of Burgundian origin, had married the emperor Lothar, who had received by inheritance the territory called Regnum Lotharii, or Francia Media. Adelaide was famous among her contemporaries for her beauty and culture. At Lothar’s death she became the second wife of Otto, who was crowned emperor by the pope in 961. The 7-year-old son, Otto II, was crowned as co-emperor. Ambassadors were sent to Constantinople to arrange the marriage of Otto II. The emperor John I Tzimiskes (969-976) conceded his niece Theophano (958-991), who arrived in Italy for the wedding in Rome with a rich dowry of jewels, illuminated manuscripts, ivory chests and silk cloths embellished with pearls and threads of gold and silver. The difficult relationship between Adelaide and her daughter-in-law Theophano is well known. Following the death of Otto II, Adelaide became regent for Otto III, already designated co-emperor by his father at the age of three. For her own part, Theophano, followed the Byzantine tradition whereby women exercised power together with their husband and were crowned together with him in the same ceremony.45

Gerberto d’Aurillac Fig. 18

Fig. 18: Gerbert d’Aurillac – Statue of Pope Sylvester II (City of Aurillac, France). Credit: Nolege, Wikimedia Commons

Fig. 18: Gerbert d’Aurillac – Statue of Pope Sylvester II (City of Aurillac, France). Credit: Nolege, Wikimedia Commons

Gerberto d’Aurillac (950-1003) protected by the Ottonians and preceptor to Otto III, was first archbishop of Reims, then of Ravenna, and later became pope under the name of Sylvester II. While still preceptor, he is said to have conversed with the devil, whom he asked to foretell his future, and received this oracle: “Transit ab R Gerbertus ad R post papa vigens R.” (Reims, Ravenna, Rome). He was a highly cultured man who intertwined faith and science. Shortly after his death, various legends arose describing him as a sorcerer. One, for example, told of when he found the palace and treasures of Octavian/Augustus underground in Rome.46

Mons. Mario Mazzotti

Mons. Mario Mazzotti (1907-1983) was a priest, an historian and an archaeologist. After publishing a series of articles devoted to the lost churches of Ravenna, in 1937 Mazzotti denounced the state of neglect and abandonment of some churches of the city and called for an urgent restoration. Subsequently, by order of the Superintendent of Ravenna, he lead restorations and many excavations “with passionate dedication, rare expertise, and thorough philological inquiry” in Ravenna (the Arian baptistery, Santa Giustina in capite porticus, the crypt of S. Francesco, the so-called Theodoric’s palace) and Classe (S. Severo and S. Apollinario). Priest of Porto Fuori church in Ravenna from 1937 onwards, Mazzotti was also Director of the Archives, the Library and the Museum of the Archbishopric. His tesi di laurea in ‘Christian archaeology’, achieved in Rome in 1951 was published a few years later under the title ‘The Basilica of St Apollinaris in Classe‘; it is still considered the fundamental work for the study of the basilica. In 1967 he became lecturer in early Byzantine Antiquities at the University of Bologna (in Ravenna) and he has published more than 30 essential papers, mainly in the ‘Corsi di cultura sull’arte ravennate e bizantina’.

Carl Gustav Jung Fig. 19

Fig. 19: Carl Gustav Jung – Portrait of C. G. Jung, a Swiss psychiatrist and psychotherapist. Credit: media.photobucket.com

Fig. 19: Carl Gustav Jung – Portrait of C. G. Jung, a Swiss psychiatrist and psychotherapist. Credit: media.photobucket.com

Carl Gustav Jung (1875-1961) visited Ravenna on two occasions. In 1913 he was particularly impressed by the Mausoleum of Galla Placidia, describing it as having “an exceptional charm.” Ten years later he went to the Orthodox Baptistery, where, together with her friend who was accompanying him, he saw a mosaic representing Christ who saves Peter from the water which actually does not exist. The psychoanalyst has analyzed in his writings this illusory perception, shared with her friend: his impressing experience in the Baptistery of Ravenna proved to him that an internal fact may appear external, and vice versa. The memories and the impressions about the mosaics in Ravenna were so powerful as to influence his drawings in the Red Book.

References

41 Storia di Ravenna, Vol. I-V, Venezia, 1990-1996

42 Comune di Ravenna, 2013, Personaggi illustri [Internet]. Available at: http://www.turismo.ra.it/ita/Scopri-il-territorio/Personaggi_-storia_-tradizioni/Personaggi-illustri [Accessed: 25/09/2013]

43 Società di Studi Romagnoli, 1963, Renovatio imperii. Atti della Giornata internazionale di studio per il Millenario, (Ravenna,4-5/11/1961), Faenza

44 Davids, A. (ed.), The Empress Theophano: Byzantium and the West at the turn of the first millennium

45 Adelaide, imperatrice, in Arnaldi, G. (ed.), Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani, Vol. 1, Rome, 1960

46 Riché, P., Il papa dell’anno Mille: Silvestro II, Cinisello Balsamo, 1988