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Sicily Journal: The Cefalù Cathedral

Monreale3.jpg

Monreale6.jpg

When the parking lot attendant in Cefalù asked me which Christ Pantokrator I preferred, the one in Cefalu (right) or Monreale (lower right), I was somewhat taken aback. Not that parking lot attendants shouldn’t think about such things; in Italy everyone has an opinion about everything; but I hadn’t given the subject any thought myself. The overall splendor of the 12th C. Norman cathedral mosaics is such that the iconography in them can be lost — at least on first viewing. In any event, the attendant felt that the Cefalù Christ had a sadder, more human aspect, in contrast to the stern Monreale depiction. Was he wrong?

The two great cathedrals, built in the late 1100’s, have early Gothic elements. The enduring nature of mosaics means that we are seeing them virtually as they were made by Byzantine and Greek craftsmen.

Cefalù.jpg

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