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Article and photos by Isabella Dalla Vecchia -
Traduction by Lorenzo Gobbo -

Chapters of this chard

    • the sacred defense of the water
    • a particularly favourite church of the Templars
    • the Knights of the loggia
    • the Templar Giovanni Michiel
    • the paradise "notes"...hell
    • the inusualsight of a woman and Jesus
    • Christianity Lombard
    • the urn of St. Anastasia

    The church of Santa Maria in Sylvis, so called because in ancient times in a wood (forest), is one of the most important Benedictine centers of Friuli. It was built in the eighth century by Erfo brothers, Anto and Marco, members of a noble Lombard family, closely linked to the rulers of Cividale and later destroyed by the invasion of the Hungarians, but was rebuilt in the late tenth century. There have been some excavations around the abbey that discovered a previous building and some tombs.



    It's a "fortified" Abbey, it has a moat that surrounds it completely and walls alternating with seven towers of which now remains only one access.
    The stream which surrounds, as well as defend against attacks, has a clear symbolic reference to the "spiritual defense."


    In fact the water purifies from any evil, it surrounds and makes alive this beautiful sacred place. Memorable for the peace that knows adopt, or in the entrance courtyard, which in the back garden. The energy that the church is impregnated, is unique and it is impossible not to perceive it.

    Not by chance this place was belonged to the Knights Templar in which we witness in the porch saying "loggia" on the left of. Here are some frescoes with themes of chivalry scenes. On the portal instead are St. Michael and St. Benedict with the dragon.

    Entrusted to the Benedictines were also other Templar mold abbeys including the Abbey of Rosazzo and Santa Maria Valley in Cividale del Friuli, this is because among the Benedictines and the Templars there was a certain friendship and brotherhood. The abbot of Santa Maria in Sylvis, Godfrey, was among other things appointed the Patriarch of Aquileia (other Templar). The Benedictine monks lived in symbiosis with the patriarchs of Aquileia and one or the other riders were also members of the Order. Not for nothing did the patriarchs were called "bishops with the sword."

    Another strange fact is that the construction of Santa Maria boasted of being supported by many donations among which the generous donations of Charlemagne and the Patriarch of Aquileia, Berenger.The money, you know, never come without a reason, but in support of causes considered of extreme importance.

    Unfortunately in 899 the church was destroyed by the invasion of the Hungarians, but was quickly rebuilt, renovated and expanded. Also, thanks to donations ... In fact, became even richer, getting a splendor as few and could make use of countless possessions in Veneto, Friuli and Istria.It was one of the bastions of the Templar possessions that were beginning to become rich and powerful, one of the reasons why Roma suppressed them so violently. Following the bull of Boniface VIII and Philip the Fair issued on 13 October 1307, in which it was ordered to kill all the knights of the Order, at the same time began the slow decline of the church led to its cancellation in 1789. It was only recovered in the early '900.

    Here are represented some profane themes of the XIII century frescoes on the east wall a duel between knights and on the south Charlemagne among his knights, in which the top are the words "OTINEL - BELISSANT" that identify the characters represented, protagonists of the "Chanson de Roland".


    Above the portal is a fresco from the loggia with the arms commendatory abbot Giovanni Michiel (1464 - 1503) led by the cardinal's hat. He finished the work of renewal of the atrium and the abbey's vestibule. Giovanni Michiel of Venetian origin, was scribe author of the Rule and affiliated to the Templar. He had also run the fresco of St. Benedict in the chair.

    The church is in the Romanesque style and can be reached only after traveling a long hall supported by two of the four pillars file. Entering you it is totally involved by two spectacular suggestive scenarios ... hell left and the Paradise right.

    The hellish scene is particularly frightening because it described in detail, the damned souls suffer all kinds of sadistic torture for which it is impossible not to be disturbed. But the most frightening thing is that right, in Paradise, there are all blessed souls who composed, emotionless look on frightening scenario they face. Of course the main scene is the coronation of Mary, but few have turned the event, most of those present looks towards us. Hovering in the middle, we feel inevitably watching us, simple men who walk the Earth, we go through this "corridor" transition, here, waiting to join ourselves or the other wall...

    Inside there are exposed some frescoes of the XV in which stand out several crowned female figures who have not been given a special meaning. A woman is on her knees, while the other has his arms crossed on his chest and contemplate the face of Jesus in a visible halo. Being devoid of aureole is not possible to attribute them holy or martyrs. The latter, however, raises several questions, we can not ignore. It is not a fresco as the others.

    If you looked carefully you can see a deep relationship between Jesus and crowned woman, almost a complicity ... romantic. This woman contemplates Jesus yes, but it bears within it a sigh of love, dictated by the typical smile of falling. At the same time Jesus appeared to her triumphantly between lights and angels, it's just. Peeks out from the corner of the sky, almost ... secretly. Enough to look at the girl and at the same time discreetly, as if not to be seen. And their eyes are complicit, as if they "speak" without which none of us can hear them.

    There is another fresco of the fifteenth century off after World War II depicting St. Christopher and the Virgin and Child with Saints John the Baptist and James Major.

    There are also exposed medieval facts.


    Some interesting findings have also been found in the Lombard style that shows how the abbey was linked to the Cividale court. We have the "nut eyes", perforated pearls, astragalus in bamboo, creased edges and crowns in a herringbone pattern; All classic Lombard decorations.


    It is at the center of the crypt and the most precious treasures of the Friuli. It was built in the eighth century with executive technique of great value, gave a beautiful and neat decoration that covers it. Probably it was arranged vertically with only three sides are decorated.

    The material is pure white marble. Coverage that was clearly visible aessere, is divided into three parts, the center stands a flowered cross with plants and clovers spiral, inside a circle decorated in a herringbone pattern, a metaphor for the triumph crown, widespread iconography. Above and below there are two pairs of arches machined twisted representing the tree of life. On the sides it is ripatuta the flowered cross with roses, daisies, lilies and again the tree of life.

    The urn appears for the first time described in 1339 in a still parchment kept in the library of Udine. Entering the dark crypt stands out with the ethereal white, beautiful, the gaze is lost in the spirals of those magical decorations, that only an ancient Christianity, Lombard, and therefore a bit ' "pay" could create.

    Article and photos by Isabella Dalla Vecchia -
    Traduction by Lorenzo Gobbo - -