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Peter Diemer

Church near Lecco, in Lombardy, Italy. It is famous for its Romanesque stucco and painted decoration. The first reference to a Benedictine monastery at Civate occurs in a Liber confraternitatum of Pfäfers Abbey of c. 845, which lists the names of 35 monks. According to legend, the monastery was founded by Desiderius, King of the Lombards, in thanksgiving for the miraculous healing of his son from blindness by a local hermit, Durus, who became the first abbot. It is unclear whether this first monastery was situated next to S Pietro, the site of Durus’s hermitage, or in the village of Civate in the valley below, where it was certainly located by the 11th century. The later use of S Pietro and the reason for its expensive restoration by the Benedictines are also uncertain.

S Pietro al Monte has been preserved from the ruin that has overtaken most of the buildings surrounding it. Built of limestone, the church is decorated with pilasters and arch-friezes and consists of a rectangular hall with open timber ceiling and apses at either end. The double apse is reminiscent of great churches north of the Alps (cf. the St Gall monastery plan; ...


Cathedral in Co. Galway, Ireland, dedicated to St Brendan. The rubble walls of the pre-Romanesque nave (10th or 11th century) originally formed a simple rectangular church. The rectangular chancel, with its paired east windows, was added in the early 13th century, and in the Late Gothic period the building was enlarged with transept-like chapels and an elegant square belfry, similar to those in Irish friaries, above the west end of the nave. The cathedral is renowned chiefly for the 12th-century sandstone doorway inserted into its west façade (see Romanesque, §III, 1, (v), (e)).

The decoration of the doorway consists of an extraordinary range of motifs, of both foreign and Irish derivation, forming the most idiosyncratic of all Hiberno-Romanesque portals. Jambs, archivolts, and a high-pitched ‘tangent gable’ were exploited as fields for a dense array of pattern-making. Following ancient Irish custom, the decorated jambs are inclined inwards. They support seven orders of deeply cut voussoirs, ornamented with interlace, bosses, scallops, geometrical designs, and beast heads. The beast heads bite a roll moulding and are comparable to those on the west portal of the Nuns’ Church at Clonmacnois (Offaly). The gable contains an arcade and a series of triangular compartments filled alternately with carved human heads and floral motifs. The five heads that peer out from the arcade may have had painted bodies, possibly emulating the enamelled figures with cast bronze heads found on contemporary Limoges plaques. Among the many delightful details are the rows of tiny beast heads on the lower faces of the abaci. Characteristic of the Hiberno-Romanesque is the juxtaposition of shallow carving, as is found here on both the jambs and pilasters, with much deeper cutting, as on the archivolts. Although this eclectic and exotic design was once attributed to the 1160s, most scholars now prefer a date of ...


Wilhelm Deuer and Nigel J. Morgan

Romanesque cathedral dedicated to the Assumption of the Virgin, located in a market town north of Klagenfurt, Austria. According to tradition, Gräfin Hemma von Zeltschach-Gurk (beatified 1287; can 1938) founded a convent between 1043 and 1045 in the remote valley of Gurk. In 1072, after its dissolution, Archbishop Gebhard of Salzburg declared the site the seat of a suffragan bishop. The diocese was tightly controlled from Salzburg. The cathedral was begun under Bishop Roman I (1131–67), and in 1174 the relics of Hemma were translated to the crypt. A violent dispute between the Archbishop of Salzburg and the Bishop of Gurk over Gurk’s independent status resulted in a break in the building campaign from 1179 to 1180; the dedication of the main altar and the subsequent construction of the transept brought the second campaign to an end in 1200. The conversion of the western gallery into a richly decorated ‘Bishop’s Chapel’ was planned by Bishop ...


Malcolm Thurlby

English parish church in Hereford and Worcester dedicated to SS Mary and Paul. The architectural sculpture of Kilpeck is the best-preserved example of the ‘Herefordshire school’ of Romanesque carving; the south doorway, chancel arch, apse boss, west window and corbels are all richly carved. The church is of sandstone. It was probably built c. 1134, when it was given to St Peter’s Abbey, Gloucester (now the cathedral). The sculptors had probably worked at Shobdon Church after 1131 (and one was previously employed at Tewkesbury Abbey). The Kilpeck sculpture reflects many other influences; the positioning of figures carved in relief one above the other on the jamb-shafts of the chancel arch recalls a similar feature on the Puerta de las Platerías, Santiago de Compostela, Spain, which had been visited by Oliver de Merlimond, founder of Shobdon, c. 1131. Superimposed figures also occur on the doorway, although here they are intertwined in foliage, as at Shobdon, and have characteristic ‘Herefordshire school’ ribbed draperies and Phrygian caps. The basic form and geometric decoration of the doorway are similar to the work of the ‘Dymock school’, while from Hereford Cathedral come the foliate motifs and large egg-shaped heads and clinging draperies of the chancel arch figures. The beakheads and medallions of the doorway reflect Reading Abbey, perhaps through the lost cloister of its daughter-house, Leominster Priory. The radiating voussoirs and certain corbels betray western French sources (e.g. Aulnay-de-Saintonge), and the unusual form of the paired columns of the doorway is paralleled in the cloister of St Aubin at Angers, although the interlacing serpents on the outer shafts and crocodile-like heads projecting from the west wall are Scandinavian-inspired. One of its most famous sculptures is the celebrated Sheela-na-Gig corbel figure, a rare example of this motif outside of Ireland....


Jacques Thiébaut

Former collegiate church in Nivelles, Belgium. The present fabric combines an Ottonian basilica with a later Romanesque forebuilding; although it has been much restored, the church is almost the sole surviving example of Ottonian architecture in the Meuse region. A Benedictine abbey for both monks and nuns under the direction of an abbess was founded at Nivelles by Itta (d ad 652), widow of Pepin I of Landen (d 640), at the instigation of St Amand, Bishop of Maastricht (reg 647–50). Itta’s daughter Gertrude was the first abbess. From the start the foundation comprised three churches: Notre-Dame for the nuns, St Paul for the monks and St Pierre, the cemetery church, in which St Gertrude was buried (659); the last was later dedicated to St Gertrude with the development of her cult. By the 10th century the monastery had become a collegiate foundation of canons and canonesses....


Minott Kerr

French town in Burgundy, known for its Romanesque basilica. The church is now dedicated to the Sacré-Coeur. The counts of Chalon founded a monastery dedicated to the Virgin and St John the Baptist at Paray-le-Monial in ad 973 and gave it to the Cluny Abbey in 999. Its original location is uncertain, but by the last quarter of the 11th century the complex stood on its present site on the banks of the River Bourbince. The construction of the church has traditionally been linked to St Hugh, Abbot of Cluny (1049–1109), but although he was related to the founders and reportedly performed two miracles at Paray, there is no indication that he took any special interest in the priory. Visions experienced by the Visitation nun St Margaret Mary Alacoque in the 1670s and 1680s made Paray the centre for the cult of the Sacred Heart. With the consecration of France to the Sacred Heart in ...


Nigel J. Morgan

Spanish Augustinian religious house in Huesca, Aragon, founded in 1183 by Sancha (d 1208), wife of Alfonso II of Aragon (reg 1162–96). The church (1188) has a nave and two aisles and is a Latin cross in plan. It has a fine Romanesque portal. Sancha is buried in the church, and the mausoleum chapel of S Pedro off the north transept contains the tombs of her son Peter II of Aragon (d 1213), his sister, and some of his comrades-in-arms. The tombs of the prioresses are elsewhere in the church. There are also a Romanesque cloister and a rectangular chapter house with wall paintings (see §1 below). Features dating from the 13th century include the Mudéjar ceiling and paintings in the Prioress’s Room, and a cycle of paintings in the church. The chapel of S Juan was added to the church in ...


James D’Emilio

Benedictine abbey near Burgos, Spain, noted for its Romanesque cloister. The abbey, documented in ad 919 with a gift from Count Fernán Gonzalez, was restored and reformed during the abbacy of St Dominic of Silos (1041–73). A contemporary manuscript from Silos (Paris, Bib. N., MS. n.a.lat. 2169, fol. 37bis v) records a consecration by Abbot Fortunio in 1088. After difficult years, the abbey enjoyed renewed prosperity under Abbot Juan (reg 1118–42), obtaining papal protection and generous gifts from King Alfonso VII (reg 1126–57). Revenues were allocated for work on the cloister in a budget of 1158. The Romanesque church was razed in the 18th century, but descriptions by abbots Gerónimo de Nebrada (reg 1572–8) and Baltazar Diaz (reg 1729–33, 1749–53, 1765–9), who supervised its demolition, two plans in the abbey archives, and findings from Iñiguez’s excavations of 1931 and 1934 provide a basis for a reconstruction, although the evidence is contradictory. The church was built in several campaigns and stood on two levels on sloping terrain. The lower church terminated in three eastern apses, and the main arcade was supported by large cylindrical piers in the two easternmost bays and compound piers in the two bays lying to the west of the line of an earlier façade. A porch adjoined the north wall. The pavement was raised and steps built over the central and south apses when the upper church was added; this had three apses preceded by deep choir bays, a shallow apse off each transept arm, and compound crossing piers. Comparisons with Jaca Cathedral and S Isidoro, León, show that the consecration of ...