Terza Loggia (Third Loggia) is another stunning place in the Apostolic Palace in Vatican City, Rome. On its walls we admire maps of the modern world painted between 1560 and 1585. They include the wonderful Emispheres, the frescoes designed by Ignazio Danti (1582 ca). I recently had the opportunity to visit Terza Loggia (I was in Rome to meet Pope Francis for the presentation of “Francis”, the illustrated and historical biography I wrote about him). I’m so glad to share some pics and news I found in a very interesting research by Francesca Fiorani (“Cycles of Painted Maps in the Renaissance”).

The first map cycles with maps of the modern world were painted for the papal residence at the Vatican between 1560 and 1585. Pope Pius IV commissioned the French cartographer Etienne Du Pérac to prepare the cartoons for thirteen modern maps of Europe, which were to be painted in the east wing of the Terza Loggia, the third story of the Renaissance addition to the papal residence Du Pérac arranged the maps according to the order of Ptolemy, but based their cartographic content on Gerardus Mercator’s map of Europe (1554) and additional modern maps.

On the wall above the maps are landscape views related to the mapped territories, while on the vaults of the loggia are inscriptions commemorating papal deeds, along with scenes painted by Lorenzo Sabatini illustrating examples of good and bad life. Unfinished at Pius IV’s death and untouched by his successor, Pius V, the Terza Loggia was completed around 1580, when Gregory XIII entrusted the Dominican polymath Ignazio Danti with the design of a world map divided into two hemispheres and ten maps of Africa, Asia, and America, which were painted by Giovanni Antonio Vanosino. Danti, who had served Gregory XIII in the Galleria delle Carte Geografiche, based the completion of the Terza Loggia on the similar map cycles in the Guardaroba Nuova in Florence that he had made for Cosimo I in the 1560s, a fact attested by comparing the Vatican maps with the earlier Florentine maps.

The maps of the world were complemented by city views that have not survived. Danti was also responsible for the connection between the maps and the other parts of the decoration. On the wall above the maps, a frieze painted by Antonio Tempesta and Mattheus Bril illustrates the procession staged in 1580 for the translation of Gregory of Nazianzus’s body to Saint Peter’s, celebrating Gregory XIII’s wish to reunify believers under the Greek and Roman rites. On the ceiling, scenes of paradise inspired by the breviary, the liturgical text Gregory XIII had reformed in the early 1580s, refer to the papal desire to unify the Catholic liturgy worldwide. The inscriptions commemorating important events of Gregory XIII’s pontificate, also on the ceiling, restate the centrality of Rome to Catholic spirituality.

As a whole, the Terza Loggia celebrates the wish of the post-Tridentine papacy to expand Catholicism universally by reconverting large parts of Europe to the Catholic faith, reaffirming the unity between those under the Greek and Roman rites, and converting the peoples of Africa, Asia, and America. The actions of the Roman pontiffs, recalled metonymically in the frieze of the Gregorian procession and in the inscriptions of papal deeds on the ceiling, took place in Rome, but their effect needed to spread to the world mapped on the walls below. That papal actions were meant to affect the world spiritually rather than politically is made manifest by the scenes from paradise, which crown both the scenes of papal deeds and the maps of the world below.

Following a firm medieval tradition, post-Tridentine popes adopted the language of Renaissance cartography as a vehicle of their ecumenical message. But, unlike their medieval predecessors, they had detailed maps with which to penetrate unknown lands and thus transform the medieval dream into a real program of propagating the faith. Indeed, the use of modern cartography for religious purposes became such a distinctive element of papal iconography that the Terza Loggia, even before its completion, served as a model for Cardinal Farnese’s Sala della Cosmografia discussed earlier. Francesca Fiorani, From “Cycles of Painted Maps in the Renaissance

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 Pap Francesco (613x800)





Published in Italy


Available in 2 versions:

2 volumes (+ casket) and 1 single volume


“The most-awaited event for Italian publishing industry”


Over 550,000 lines of text, 14 chapters, 340 photographs, 6 months of work and researches: these are the numbers that define the “first historical and illustrated biography” about new Pope Jorge Mario Bergoglio, the 266 th Pope of history, the first to assume the name of Francis, the first South American Pope, the first Pope belonging to the Society of Jesus.

Francis” helps us to know a “son of Italian immigrants” who became the leader of the Roman Catholic Church. The volumes – “the most-awaited event for Italian publishing industry” as media stated – dig deep into the historical records and documents starting from the news about the Pope’s family, reconstructing moments and facts concerning the emigration from Italy to Argentina, specifying dates, times and procedures.

The Author writes about the childhood of the future Pope Francis, his progressive steps in education, his lung disease, his religious vocation on the backdrop of social and historical scenarios of Argentina. “Francis” also delves into the distinctive elements of cultural education of the future Pope Francis, his relations with the  world of Latin American thinkers, authors and essayists (Jorge Luis Borges, Methol Ferrè, Gera, Scannone) who drew new perspectives for South American continent. The book  contextualizes informations and news related to the evolution of social and historical periods in Argentina, as president Peron’s age. 

Unpublished testimonies help to discover Jorge Mario Bergoglio during his years at the helm of the Jesuits in Argentina, his pastoral insights, his role in saving lives during the military dictatorship (1976-1983), his experiences as rector at the Collegio Massimo in San Miguel, his presence in the “barrios” between the poor and emergencies in Buenos Aires, sharing the difficulties of the population in the years of severe economic crisis that hit Argentina at the beginning of the Twenty-First century. The last chapters are dedicated to the first months of Francis pontificate.




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FRANCESCO di Roberto Alborghetti, Ed. Velar-Elledici - Copia (2)


 Lenno (Lake Como, Italy): one of the masterpieces created by the great Slovenian artist

1st PART

 An extension of 50 square meters. Almost 20 thousand colored stones and glasses tiles. These numbers summarized an extraordinary artwork: the mosaic that Slovenian artist Marko Rupnik has created on the walls of the chapel of Suore Adoratrici at the Spirituality Center in Lenno ( Lake Como, Italy). Rupnik’s work – articulated in the scenes of the Nativity and Moses salvation – is a veritable feast of colors conceived, designed and made with meticulous care, great creativity and exceptional talent. Each little stone, every color and every hue are referring to spiritual, religious, cultural and social meanings.

They are mixed and fused in a fascinating tale that brings together two distinct stories – Moses saved from the waters and the Birth of Jesus – in an unique and impressive performance. Marko Rupnik mosaic is not only an incredible artwork, but also and above all an expression of the mystery, whose basic theological idea is this: as the matter changes if it is illuminated by natural light, so human heart may do wonders if it is opened to the Light.

The work was completed in five days during June 2007. Marko Rupnik lead a 11 persons team from different nationalities, formed and supported by competent people who deal with theological, symbolic, historical, iconographic and artistic point of view about the images to create. The harmony we admire in the mosaic is also the result of the fraternity that artists lived together, respecting single diversity and identity. While each artist composed his mosaic’s part, silence prevailed. Each artist has to dialogue with the stones. And the stones answer, obey and communicate with heart’s artist.

Roberto Alborghetti

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Marko Ivan Rupnik was born November 28, 1954 in Zadlog, Slovenia near Idrija. He is the fourth child, after three sisters. He studied philosophy in Ljubljana and then, in 1977, enrolled in the Academy of Fine Arts in Rome. Theological studies at the Pontifical Gregorian University of Rome followed. He was ordained a priest in 1985. In 1991 he earned a doctorate. Since September of 1991 he has lived and worked in Rome at the Centro Aletti, of which he is the director. He teaches at the Pontifical Oriental Institute, the Pontifical Gregorian University, Saint Anselm Pontifical Liturgical Institute, and gives seminars and lectures at numerous other European academic institutions. In February 2000 he received the “France Preseren” Award, the Slovenian Republic’s highest recognition for contributions to the cultural patrimony. In 2002 he was decorated with the honor “Sign of honor of the freedom of the Slovenian Republic”, conferred on him by the president of the republic. In 2003 he received the international “Beato Angelico” prize for Europe. Besides many collective exhibits he has presented his works in personal exhibits among which those in Rome, Italy; Milan, Italy; Baltimore, Maryland USA; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; Ljubljana, Slovenia; Ljubljana, Slovenia; St. Petersburg, Russia; Czech Republic; Olomouc, Czech Republic; Cluj, Romania. He created lot of artworks in Italy, France, Czech Republic, Slovenia, Syria, USA, Spain.





 Cinquanta metri quadri di estensione. Quasi ventimila tessere colorate, in pietra ed in vetro. Dentro questi numeri è riassunta una straordinaria opera d’arte: il mosaico che l’artista Marko Rupnik ha creato sulle pareti della cappella del Centro di Spiritualità delle Suore Adoratrici in Lenno, Como. L’opera di Rupnik – articolata nelle scene della Natività e di Mosè salvato dalle acque – è una vera e propria festa di colori, che l’artista ha ideato, progettato e composto con cura meticolosa, creatività, eccezionale bravura.

Ogni pietra incastonata nel muro, ogni tinta ed ogni colore rimandano a precisi significati spirituali, religiosi, culturali e sociali che si fondono in un suggestivo racconto che riunisce le due distinte storie – Mosè e la Nascita di Gesù – in una unica e grandiosa rappresentazione. Il mosaico di Marko Rupnik non è solo opera d’arte, ma espressione del Mistero; la sua idea teologica di fondo è questa: come la materia creata se illuminata dalla luce naturale subisce cambiamenti, variazioni così a maggior ragione quando il cuore dell’uomo è toccato dalla Luce può operare meraviglie e trasformazioni!

L’opera è stata realizzata nel giugno 2007 e compiuta In cinque giorni. L’ equipe era formata da 11 persone di diverse nazionalità, guidata da Rupnik. Il gruppo è formato e supportato da persone competenti che affrontano dal punto di vista teologico,simbolico,storico, iconografico e artistico le immagini che poi dovranno realizzare nel cantiere.

L’armonia che cogliamo nel mosaico è anche frutto della fraternità che gli artisti vivono fra loro e dove la diversità diventa ricchezza. Mentre ciascun artista componeva la sua parte di mosaico, il silenzio dominava. Ogni artista deve instaurare un dialogo con la pietra, che “risponde”, obbedisce e viene ascoltata dal cuore umano.

(1 – Continua)


 From November 24 to January 15, 2012, an extraordinary series of events under the sign of the great Catalan architect.


Rome will host from November 2011 to January 2012 an extraordinary series of events under the sign of the great Antoni Gaudí. This important cultural project will bring great events dedicated to the great Catalan architect and his iconic and universally known work: the Sagrada Familia (Barcelona, Spain). The exhibition – “Gaudí and the Sagrada Familia. Art, science and spirituality “- is housed in the St. Peter’s Basilica, Braccio di Carlomagno, Vatican City, Rome, from November 24, 2011 to January15, 2012.

The exhibition will present works of Antoni Gaudí through the relationship between art, architecture and transcendence. Commissioner and curator of the exhibition is the Catalan art historian Daniel Giralt-Miracle. In parallel to the important events connected with the exhibition will be held in Rome a series of academic and institutional activities designed to investigate the various aspects of Catalan culture and the church in the present era of Gaudí. The initiatives are made possible with support from the Fundación Endesa and the Fundació “la Caixa”, as well as support of the Generalitat de Catalunya and the Pontifical Council for Culture. The exhibition, which takes place on a proposal and under the auspices of the Pontifical Council for Culture, will be divided into six sections: Gaudí and the Sagrada Familia, Art, Other buildings of Gaudí, Science, Technology in the Sagrada Familia and La Sagrada Familia Spirituality Today .

This route, which will occupy an area of approximately 800 m², will frame Antoni Gaudí in his historical and artistic context. His masterpiece, la Sagrada Família, will be analyzed from the technical, artistic and religious aspects. . Among the exhibits there will be reconstructions about Gaudí era, plants, furnitures and liturgical objects – designed by the architect himself – photographic and audio-visual supports coming from the collections of the Museum of the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona.



La città del Vaticano e la città di Roma ospiteranno nei mesi di novembre, dicembre e gennaio prossimi una straordinaria serie di eventi nel segno di Antoni Gaudí. Arte, Scienza e Spiritualità è l’importante progetto culturale che porterà in Vaticano e a Roma imperdibili appuntamenti espositivi ed accademici dedicati al grande architetto catalano e alla sua emblematica e universalmente conosciuta opera: la Sagrada Familia. La mostra – “Gaudí e la Sagrada Família. Arte, scienza e spiritualità” – è allestita nella Basilica di San Pietro, Braccio di Carlomagno, Città del Vaticano, Roma, dal 24 novembre 2011 al 15 gennaio 2012.

La rassegna illustrerà attraverso le opere di Antoni Gaudí il rapporto tra l’arte, l’architettura e la trascendenza. Commissario e curatore della mostra è lo storico d’arte catalano Daniel Giralt-Miracle. In parallelo all’importante manifestazione di carattere espositivo si svolgeranno a Roma una serie di attività istituzionali ed accademiche volte ad approfondire i molteplici aspetti della cultura e della chiesa catalana, nell’epoca di Gaudí e nell’attualità. Le iniziative sono rese possibili grazie al patrocinio della Fundación Endesa e della Fundació “la Caixa”, oltre al supporto della Generalitat de Catalunya e del Pontificio Consiglio della Cultura.

La mostra, che si realizza su proposta e sotto gli auspici del Pontificio Consiglio della Cultura, si articolerà in sei sezioni: Gaudí e la Sagrada Família, Arte; Altri edifici di Gaudí, Scienza; Tecnologia nella Sagrada Família, Spiritualità e La Sagrada Família oggi. Attraverso questo percorso, che occuperà una superficie di circa 800 m², si inquadrerà nel proprio contesto storico ed artistico la figura di Antoni Gaudí e delle sue opere, in particolare della Sagrada Família, di cui si analizzeranno gli aspetti tecnico-artistici e il messaggio religioso in essa contenuto. Tra gli oggetti in mostra vi saranno plastici dell’epoca di Gaudí, piantine, mobilia ed oggetti liturgici disegnati dallo stesso architetto e provenienti dalle collezioni del Museo della Sagrada Família, con relativo materiale fotografico e audiovisivo di supporto.




Abbadia San Salvatore, on Amiata Mount (Siena area, Tuscany, Italy) is a place rich of art and history… 


In Abbadia San Salvatore, on Amiata MountSiena area, Tuscany, Italy – there is a magical and capturing place. You find it on the ancient abbey church. It is a crypt, where you may breath the history and the beauty of one of the most fascinating Tuscany village.

According the documents, the crypt was built in VIII Century. It was restored in XX Century and now we may admire it in all its beauty. Everytime I have the way to visit it, I always feel astonished by its magic. It happened again a few days ago, when I was in Abbadia SS. for the XIII edition of “Penne and Video Sconosciuti”, the national festival for school journals and videos produced by italian schools.

The Longobard crypt shows 32 columns that form 13 small aisles. They are made in various shapes; some of them are round, with different sculpured ornaments. Also the beautiful capitals are sculptured in various shapes, as palm leaves, loto flowers or animal heads.


The abbey and all the Medieval centreare telling us how Abbadia San Salvatore was important in the past. All its area is rich in history and traditions, that to a great extent can be found in documents in the old archive belonging to the monastery dedicated to the Saviour at Amiata Mount. The archive contains many references to the importance and power of the abbey, but little or no reference is made to the early Medieval history of the surrounding land and area, or about the people who used to live there.

The castle of Abbadia is first mentioned in a document dating to 1203, which shows that the community was came under the aegis of a communal hierarchy headed by a Podestà, under the political control of Orvieto. A few years later, the strenght and power of this communal organization are described in the “bill of freedom” (“carta delle libertà”) granted in 1212 to communal chancellors by the Abbot of the San Salvatore monastery.

The pattern of settlements in the area of Abbadia was defined around the mid-XII Century, when under the pressure of external threats, the local population, up until then scattered over the surrounding countryside, came together within one large fortified settlement.


This Benedectine monastery was founded by Erfo, a Longobard nobleman, in the VIII Century, under King Astolfo, and it was dedicated to the Saviour, which was typical of that people and in the tradition of christian religion. It rose on the east side of Amiata Mount in order to reclaim the surrounding woods and forests. It also overlooked the Via Francigena, running through the Paglia Valley.

The imperial abbey greatly developed in the Carolingian period thanks to Charlemagne‘s and Ludovick‘s confirmation of its landed propertues and privileges, Around the year 1000, under Abbot Winizo, it increased its power by acquiring new territories. The church and the crypt were rebuilt in 1036. In 1228 the monastery passed to the Cistercians. It was suppressed by grand-duke Pietro Leopoldo in 1782 and re-opened later.


In the year 1087, a certain Miciarello and his wife Gualdrada made a donation in favour of the monastery of St Saviour. Below the donation document, the notary Ranieri signed three verses, commonly known as “Cartula Amiatina” (“The Amiata Footnote”). This extemporary poem represents to linguists the first voice of vernacular coming from Tuscany. That is, the first expressions recording the evolution of the Italian language.

But this is not the only important document about Amiata History. Till XIX Century, the monastery hosted the famous “Bibbia Amiatina”“The Amiata Bible” – which is considered the oldest latin version ever known. The Amiata Bible – a real art masterpiece, written by amanuensis monks – is now kept in Florence, but we may see a photo-reproduction in the Monastery Museum.

The historical centre is a well kept fortress-village, where you may walk through incredible narrow streets and squares, all built with the local grey stone. You may admire the Servadio Theatre (1873), a tiny but fascinating place. It was built thanks to the initiative of the Carli and Gragnoli families; it is dedicated to Giacomo Servadio (XIX Century) a Florentine member of Italian Parliament, banker, musician and theatre producer. Between the end of XIX Century and the beginning of the XX, the building was the seat of a friendly Society of the workers of Abbadia, where in XIX Century quicksilver mines began their activities, now closed and presented in a museum.



I been in Gravedona, nice village on the Lake Como  (Italy). There, I had the way to continue my journey through Italian medieval monuments. An incredible sign of medieval times is found along the banks, a few meters from lake waters. It’s a rare church, Santa Maria del Tiglio, Saint Mary of the Lime-tree. In fact, behind the monument, close to the lake ‘s shore, you may see some of this beautiful trees.

Its architectural design was made by the famous “Maestri Comacini”. It is an example of the roman period around Como dated around the second half of XII century. It is built over a former baptistry (V century) dedicated to St. John the Baptist.

Unique in its kind, it was built with black and white stones on which raised symbols can be read. Pilasters, vaulted arches, arrow slits, embrasures, profiles and string courses on the windows, columns, arcades, apses and oculi express “Maestri Comacini” inspiration and creativity.

Inside the church – where you breath an enchanting  atmosfere – some of the grey stones bring frescos (made between XIV and XV century) as “St. John the Baptist”, “The Wise Men”, an “Holy Trinity”, “The Adoption of the Wise Men”, an episode of the “Life of St. Julian”. Also of great iconographic interest is the fresco of “The Day of Judgement”, with Giottesque traces to be seen.

Beside the church, you have to visit the beautiful crypt, with an extraordinary serie of columns, dated from XII century and built on a pre-existing Palaeo-Christian basilica.