Anne's Blog

Pointing Out the Wonders in “Underground Todi”

Date: November 11, 2021 - categories: - Leave your thoughts

Don’t leave the 13th-century cathedral of Todi before heading underground.

To the left of the altar, steps lead down into the 13th-century crypt, perhaps once Todi’s baptistery.   Stone remnants from the Roman period of Todi to the 19th-century  on the walls, guide your walk:

The crypt was once used for the burial of Todi’s bishops as evidenced also by tombstones:

As of 2014, the crypt now holds a precious collection of sacred art, some works once in the Cathedral and others from various Todi area churches.

And not only: the crypt also displays a copy of the famed 5th-century B.C. bronze statue of a warrior, called “Marte” (Mars),  found in Todi in the mid 19th-century.  The original is now in the Etruscan collection of the Vatican Museum:The warrior,  in armor and ready for a battle, holds a patera (dish)containing a votive libation offered to the gods before a battle. The other hand once held a lance.

Massive stone vaults rise over the altar in the crypt….…and behind the altar, reigns a precious statue of the Madonna with Child, called “Sedes Sapientiae,” by an unknown sculptor (12th-century), the name indicating her throne as the “throne of wisdom.”

The statue was once in the ancient abbey of San Leucio and later brought by the Dominicans to the Todi church of Santa Maria in Camucia where it remained until transfer to this crypt in 2014. Clearly of Byzantine tradition.

I was astonished to learn that the sculpture is actually of two pieces: the Virgin was sculpted in a moolithic block and her hands are moveable so that the Child – sculpted in another block –  could be inserted in her lap, then latched to her with an iron hinge.

The crypt also holds various reliquaries, often in the shape of a hand raised as if indicating Heaven.

The upraised- hand reliquary of Santa Degna,  3rd/4th-century martyr and one of Todi’s five santi protettori, is to the left of the large reliquary (also a hand) of San Fortunato, patron saint of Todi.  Both reqliquaries in silver, made in the 15th-century.

The ornate gold-leaf wooden reliquaries behind those hands are were sculpted in the 18th-century over  brass and crystal  reliquaries made in the 15th-century:

One of the most revered reliquaries (17th-century) is that of Blessed Jacopone da Todi, depicted in his Franciscan tunic, who died in Todi in 1306 and is buried in the Church of San Fortunato

This Franciscan was most noted for his numerous lauds and is considered a protagonist of medieval Italian poetry. His eyes seem to twinkle, his grin is mischievous (maybe as he reflects on the Pope he criticized who later excommunicated him…? )

Ornate reliquaries of Santa Barbara and San Filippo Neri join Jacopone in the Todi Duomo cripta: where “underground Todi” hides many a surprise,

Read about Todi’s medieval architecture and its link with contemporary sculpture

Read about Jacopone da Todi

Read about the Duomo and new discoveries there

Read about the stunning Painted House of Todi

Click here to read about Renaissance splendor in Todi

Read about the Church of San Fortunato in Todi

Click here to to read about Todi’s celebration of San Fortunato



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