The treasure of St. Cyriac


‘This exhibition will illustrate the history of the Ancona church by means of the numerous artistic testimonies to which it has given rise through the centuries. Christian presence in Ancona dates back to the very first centuries after Christ when the cult of St. Stephen, so widely practised in the city, became well known as far as the shores of North Africa, to the extent that St. Augustine himself mentions it in his sermons at Hippo. According to tradition, a sailor present at the martyrdom of St. Stephen picked up one of the stones with which he had been killed and acting upon a divine revelation left it at Ancona during the course of one of his many journeys. When the body of the Saint was found in 415 A.D. at Jerusalem, the people of Ancona asked for his relics but received instead the remains of St. Cyriac who, so the tradition goes, had been Bishop of Ancona and had suffered martyrdom at Jerusalem in 363 A.D. From that time on, the cult of St. Cyriac took the place of that of St. Stephen. Around the two figures of martyrs, but above all around St. Cyriac, proclaimed protector of the city, through the centuries, an abundant artistic production flourished, as is clearly shown by the objects that make up the exhibition, all of which come from Ancona’s recently restored and reorganized Diocesan Museum. The exhibition develops on a horizontal, strict1y chronological plane and is, at the same time, divided into caesuras for-ming methodologically interesting nuclei and creating a close network of inter-connections, explanations and cross-references which make it impossible to view the objects in context except within this structure of which the civilization of Ancona is the binding element. The exhibition starts with the reliquary of St. Stephen, dating back to the 14th century which lies at the base of any understanding of the origins of Christianity in Ancona and passes on through the 15th century where the processional cross, the pontifical and altar-frontal of St. Cyriac testify to the prestige of the local Church and the wealth of the Adriatic city in that period. Representing the 16th and 17th centuries, which appear so much poorer in objects, are numerous manuscripts and coins as well as high quality gold-ware. Next comes a series of splendid 18th century furnishings donated to the Treasure of the Cathedral by such important and wealthy people as Bishop Marcello d’Aste and Bishop Prospero Lambertini, the future Pope Benedict XIV. Finally, the statue of the Madonna, a gift of Pope Pius IX from his native region, dates back to the 19th century. The exhibition catalogue was edited by Maria Amelia Zilocchi, art histo-rian specialised in so-called minor art and currently engaged in catalo-guing important monuments including the Basilica of St. Ambrose in Milan, and Lucia Zannini, also historian of minor arts assistant of the Fine Arts Service of Urbino and the Diocesan Museum of Ancona.’


24 Agosto 1991 - 31 Agosto 1991


Exhibitions Meeting Exhibitions