Ariberto Ftc
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8 November Nov 2016 1652 9 months ago

The cross or the crosses of Ariberto? An enigma unveiled at the Grande Museo del Duomo

One of the Duomo's mysteries

Upon entering the room dedicated to the Duomo's Treasury, two very different crosses greet visitors. The more valuable is the famous Cross of Bishop Ariberto, a precious bronze artifact from the 11th century, and next to it but in a less prominent position, an unadorned wooden cross. Centuries ago an incident brought these two crosses together, their histories interweaving for many years and now, at the Grande Museo del Duomo, they continue their parallel journeys after research has restored the proper role to each one.

The beautiful Cross was commissioned by Ariberto di Intimano, Bishop of Milano, for the church which he built and dedicated to San Dionigi, shown in the model in the hands of the prelate depicted at Christ's feet next to the Latin inscription “Ariberto indegno arcivescovo”.

The lobed wooden cross, on the other hand, intersected the history of the Cross of Ariberto at a later date. According to historical reconstructions, the nine embossed plates were, in fact, part of a quadrangular structure of which the Cross was a central part, and obviously a key component of the composition. A miniature example of how it may have looked in the 11th century is the splendid Evangelario, displayed next to the monumental Cross. It wasn't until later, and then for many centuries after, that the figure of Salvatore and the fragments of plates depicting the two mourners, the sun and the moon, and Ariberto, dismantled and cut, were put in a wooden frame. This is how the museum commemorates the many hardships of the precious relic that has been the property of the Veneranda Fabbrica since 1870, initially preserved in the main foyer of the Cathedral.