The "gate" and Sant'Esuperanzio's lunette.

The theme of the gate can be considered really fundamental in almost all the religious traditions.

As far as the Christian tradition is concerned, you can find symbolic references about it in many passages in the Bible, both in the New and Old Testament.

A few samples:

Jesus himelf said: "I am the gate; if anyone enters through Me, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture." John 10:9.

Genesis 28,17 (about Jacob’s altar) reports: "How dreadful is this place! this is none other but the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven".

In his Apocalyptic vision St. John sees: "a gate …[that]…was opened in the heaven" (Ap.4,1).

The list of samples could be much longer.

Of course the theme of the "gate"was often underlined in the medieval Christian expression and the rich decoration of many portals is a clear proof of its importance .

Moreover, the same fact that Jesus identified himself with the gate can give the idea of the richness of meanings expressed by this symbol in the Christian tradition.

In fact, the biblical quotations above have not been a casual choice and they are connected with some peculiar aspects that are frequently recalled by the iconography.

Actually you can notice that medieval churches often have three portals and they are usually – but not always- placed on the facade.

In this case, because the identification of Jesus with the symbol of the gate, in the iconography of the portals we generally find allusions to Christ:

who was – who was the Incarnation and fulfilled the project of the Redemption;

who is – who lives in the Heaven’s glory, after the Resurrection and the Ascension;

who will come – who will live in the "new earth" of the End Times and will be in and with the elects in the shining New Jerusalem.

Although, when there is just one portal, it can be considered a very allusive synthesis of these meanings.

An interesting illustration of this is given by the lunette of the gate in S. Esuperanzio in Cingoli – XIII░ cent. (Marche – Italy).

In the architrave, you actually see the four animals of the tetramoph and, among them,the victorious lamb enlightning the New Jerusalem . This recalls the glorious presence of Jesus Christ among the elects as it is described in the Apocalypse.

At the same time, the animals are holding the books of the Gospels: we can say that this is also a reference to the New Testament and to the Incarnation.

In the alto- rilievo in the lunette you can see two sculpted angels holding thuribles; the image of the bishop S. Esuperanzio is among them.

The pedestals supporting the angels seem particularly interesting;

the pedestal on the left is a cube, while the lower one on the right is a semi- cylinder.

This is certainly an attempt to represent the synthesis of meanings quoted above.

In fact, the cubic form is probably an allusion to the form of the New Jerusalem described by St. John and, so it’s a reference to the end of the History after the apocalypse.

The form of the semi-cylinder probably recalls the "round" celestial cycles beating the rolling by the time that’s history of our Salvation thanks to the Jesus’ Incarnation.

The frontal image of Esuperanzio makes us remember his intercession with the divinity whose absolute and aeternal Glory are already contemplated by the saint himself behind any limit of space and time.

So, we can say that with a few and simple symbols, the synthesis of the meanings expressed by the lunette seems complete and coherent in its essentiality.

Iconografia medievale- Medieval iconography

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