07 April 2008

Duomo di Orvieto

This great cathedral in the Umbrian city of Orvieto is dedicated under the title of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, but it was built to house a linen corporal. In 1264 a priest (who doubted the doctrine of transubstantiation) was saying Mass in the nearby city of Bolsena. At the fracture of the Sacred Host, blood began flowing out, staining the linen. Needless to say, the priest had a corrective nudge in his thinking, and the Church had a marvellous relic for the edification of the Faithful. Alas, the Bolsenians didn't hang on to it, or they might have had their own magnificent Duomo. Instead, the corporal was brought to Orvieto, and the bishop wasn't about to give up the prize. Instead, he built this exquisite cathedral in which to keep it, the pilgrims started arriving, and the rest -- as they say -- is history.

As is evident in these pictures, the fa├žade is a riot of colorful mosaic work, with intricate carving and a multitude of statues. Our Italian pilgrimages often include an afternoon in Orvieto, and I never tire of looking around the cathedral and spending time in prayer before the Miraculous Corporal.