Floral Splendor in Spello: a COVID Infiorata
Entering the 12th c.- church of San Lorenzo Martire in Spello, your attention is drawn immediately to the golden baldacchino dominating the altar:
The 17th-c. Spello baldacchino copies the splendid Bernini bronze baldacchino of the same period towering over the main altar of St. Peter’s:
Less than ten years after the Bernini baldacchino, artisans in Spello had created the San Lorenzo baldacchino, but in wood, then gilding it. Centuries meet here, for this ornate canopy covers an altar set on a section of a Roman travertine column:
The baldacchino imitates the canopy of fabric carried in church processions – or once placed over an altar, a throne or dais. This year, this San Lorenzo “stationery canopy” symbolically replaced the brocade canopy carried over the Host during Spello’s beloved Infiorate procession on the Feast of Corpus Domini (sixty days after Easter).
Due to COVID, for the first time in 60 years, the spellani could not unite to create those Infiorate – floral tapestry wonders carpeting the Spello streets and piazzas: over eighty of them.
Yet in Spello, the Feast of Corpus Domini is inextricably linked to floral tapestries. The tradition was carried on by twenty masked infioratori (“flower tapestry-makers) who created a single splendid infiorata – 12 sq. meters – near the altar, working a few at time, the baldacchino just behind them:
(and do note the banner stretched out below with the dates of the 2021 Infiorate):
On the Feast of Corpus Cristi, June 14, 2020, Monsignore Gualtiero Sigismondi, bishop of the diocese of Foligno (which includes Spello), said Mass in San Lorenzo, giving his sermon from the pulpit while clutching his bishop’s crozier, floral splendor at his feet – and an image of its design at the base of the pulpit.
In flowers, a dove of peace flew towards Christ, His face outlined in blue delphinium. A woman in white (daisies) backed by a brilliant yellow (broom) and orange (calendula) sun had launched the dove towards Christ. Other doves of peace were joining the flight – from Orvieto to Spello with double symbolism here: the 13th-c . Sacred Corporal linked to the Feast of Corpus Domini
(promulgated by Pope IV in Orvieto, mid-13th-c) is conserved in the Cathedral of Orvieto – and the bishop will soon be headed there to his new assignment. Pope Francis has just appointed him Bishop of the Todi-Orvieto diocese.
In many ways, that Infiorata was an “arrivederci tribute” to this much-loved bishop who in his twelve years as Bishop of Foligno, had always participated – as he said – “with sincere enthusiasm” in the Corpus Domini festivities of Spello, le Infiorate.
He had many times walked over Spello’s floral tapestry splendor under a golden brocaded canopy, holding high the Host – and passing this church of San Lorenzo, too. I have a couple photo memories of those moments:
And at conclusion of the June 14th feast-day Mass, Monsignore
Sigismondi solemnly walked down the steps below the baldacchino –
that gilded wood sculptured canopy – and over the tapestry:
The press reported on the event as a highly emotional moment in the church for those few allowed to be present – and I would imagine for the Bishop, taking his last walk over Spello floral tapestry splendor.
stopped at the first pew before exiting the church – to wish the Spello mayor, Moreno Landrini, greetings on this day – his birthday:
I know Monsignore Sigismondi will always be grateful for those twenty young infioratori spellani who had collaborated on his splendid floral arrivederi.
And I would like to thank the Infiorate di Spello group for use of these superb photos (below) sharing with us all memorable moments of the creation of Spello’s only 2020 Infiorata. May there be dozens of splendid floral masterpieces in 2021. Once again.
– and see! – Spello’s stupendous floral festival, le Infiorate
Agenzia Viaggi Stoppini in Assisi handles all technical support for my guided visits (bus transportation, organization of meals, etc)