Sunday, August 7, 2016

                              Norman Palace in Palermo, Sicily                        
   Cappella Palatine  
                             (Photo Link 4.)                            

Cappella Palatine
Palermo, Sicily 

"The Palatine Chapel is the royal chapel of the Norman kings of Kingdom of Sicily situated on the first floor at the center of the Norman Palace in Palermo. The chapel is a great symbol of multi-cultural cooperation. Craftsmen of three different religious traditions worked alongside each other."(Link 2.) 
"The Cappella Palatina was built by Roger II, king of Sicily. It was the second important church erected at the initiative of the king, its construction began in 1132, a year after the laying of the cornerstone of Cefalù's cathedral. It was consecrated in 1140, and the execution of the extensive mosaic decor, covering the entire interior, began after that date.
"The palace chapel is a blend of Roman and Greek building types. To the east of its three-aisle nave is a sanctuary consisting of a central space topped by a cupola, two transepts, a main apse with a preceding bay, and two secondary apses. This eastern section is wholly in conformity with middle Byzantine sacred architecture. Only this portion has vaulting; the three aisle of the nave have richly structured and painted wooden ceilings. The mosaic decor, which was completed only during the reign of Roger II's successors, William I and William II, completely covers the upper portions of the walls.

The magnificent wooden ceiling. 
Nave, north side.
("The tour guide said they faces are so small "they can only be seen by the eyes of God". JN)

"Like the architecture, the pictorial program in the chapel's sanctuary is essentially Byzantine in character. The chapel's oldest mosaics, and the ones of highest quality both artistically and in terms of technique, are the ones in the cupola and its drum. According to an inscription, these must have been completed in 1143. The central motif in the cupola is a Christ Pantocrator, surrounded by eight angels."(Link 3.) The madonna below Christ Pantocrator is an addition from the 18th century. Originally there was a window there." (Link 2.)

Mosaic of Christ Pantocrator
("The Three Fingers Represent the Trinity." JN)
"While the pictorial program in the sanctuary is essentially Byzantine in character, this is not the case in the nave, whose mosaic decor consists of two pictorial cycles. The Old Testament cycle, which runs along the side walls of the centre aisle in two registers, follows in the tradition of Roman church decoration. It begins on the south wall, next to the crossing, with the story of the Creation, and ends on the north wall with scenes from the life of Jacob. The second cycle extends across both of the side-aisle walls: the stories of apostles Peter and Paul are related in fourteen panels, some of them containing two scenes.( Link 3.)

Chapel Altar
"The sanctuary, dedicated to Saint Peter, is reminiscent of a domed basilica. It has three apses, as is usual in Byzantine architecture, with six pointed arches (three on each side of the central nave) resting on recycled classical columns.

Sanctuary Pillar Detail

"The mosaics of the Palatine Chapel are of unparalleled elegance as concerns elongated proportions and streaming draperies of figures. They are also noted for subtle modulations of colour and luminance. The oldest are probably those covering the ceiling, the drum, and the dome.

"The chapel combines harmoniously a variety of styles: the Norman architecture and door decor, the Arabic arches and script adorning the roof, the Byzantine dome and mosaics. For instance, clusters of four eight-pointed stars, typical for Muslim design, are arranged on the ceiling so as to form a Christian cross.

Chapel Wall Detail
(Link 1.)

"The chapel has been considered a union of a Byzantine church sanctuary and a Western basilica nave.[3] The sanctuary, is of an "Eastern" artistic nature, while the nave reflects "Western" influences. (Link 1.)

Photos: Taken in May 2016 by Patricia Wright Young while traveling in 
                 Palermo, Sicily. 
Photo Comments: Julian Norwich’ book: Sicily: An Island at the Crossroads of 

Link 2:
Link 3:
Link 4:


God, be with persecuted Christians throughout the world. Amen (SW.)

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