It is not merely a precious ivory bucket, but very much more. A genuine basilica etched at the end of a tusk. One of the most precious items of the Treasure of the Grande Museo del Duomo di Milano, which is owned by the Metropolitan Chapter, the Situla of Bishop Godfrey is one of the most illustrious masterpieces of sacred art of the 10th century, preserved in Milan.
For the exhibition “ThietmarsWelt. EinMerseburgerBishofschreibtGeschichte” sponsored by the Duomo of Merseburg from 15 July to 4 November 2018, Veneranda Fabbrica del Duomo di Milano has accepted the invitation to share the extraordinary beauty of this precious item with the German public by authorising the Situla to be given on loan for the entire duration of the exhibition.
The exhibition, which will close on the Feast of St. Charles Borromeo, is dedicated to the unique figure of Bishop Thietmar of Merseburg (976 – 1018), author of some chronicles that offer important evidence and a rich documentation of the Ottonian period between the 10th and 11th centuries, which had a great influence on the Italian peninsula. Thietmar’s story does not only provide extensive information about ecclesiastical life at the time. In fact, he considers the political, cultural and ethnological scene of his time.
As mentioned, Godfrey’s Situla is one of the masterpieces of the Ottonian age. Godfrey was Archbishop of Milan from 974 to 979. A Milanese of Longobard origins, he sided with the cause of the Saxons. He was appointed by Otto II, Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire and King of Italy from 973 to 983.
It is generally deemed that the Situla was commissioned in view of Otto II’s visit to Milan, which occurred only in 980; hence, soon after Godfrey’s death. He was not buried in the Church of Sant’Ambrogio but in the Winter Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore, or in the Duomo.