Battistero Giovanni ad Fontes (foreground) and Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore (background) St. John the Baptist Baptistery (foreground) and Basilica of St. Mary Major (background)
Cioffi, Paul L., 1928-2004
Lomello, in the province of Pavia, Lombardy, in northwestern Italy, is an ancient settlement. One of the oldest baptisteries in Lombardy, the Baptistery of San Giovanni ad Fontes was erected there on a Roman burial site. Built between the 5th C. (lowest portions) and the 7th C. (the upper portion was rebuilt during the 8th C.; the baptistery was last restored in 1941), the octagonal structure has alternating semi-circular and rectangular niches which create an essentially cruciform footprint. The building center rises above the roof line of the niches in an octagonal shape. Eight arched windows, one on each wall of the octagon, provide light for the space within. A small lantern tops the baptistery. Adjacent to the baptistery stands the Lombard Romanesque Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore, built between 1025 and 1040 on the foundations of an Early Christian chapel. The crypt beneath the high altar incorporates remnants of the earlier building. The Romanesque basilica is constructed on the plan of a slightly modified Latin cross with a nave and two aisles. The left aisle was designed shorter than the right aisle and is not rectilinear. The skewed geometry is said to symbolize the tragedy of the Crucifixion. Although the walls are masonry, the nave has a wooden coffered ceiling. ca. July 1991
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