Prato Cathedral

Prato Cathedral
Prato Cathedral

The current Prato Cathedral in the homonymous region of Prato in Italy is one of the best examples of a simple temple that gradually gained importance thanks to the increase in the number of pilgrims who increasingly flocked to venerate the relic of the Holy Cincture. The cincture is the cord with two tassels that the priests usually use to hold the chasuble or in ancient times it was used to hold the tunic; Specifically, it is believed that the Prato girdle belonged to the Virgin Mary and a great vocation was created around it.

Duomo_di_prato, _view_02

Since the 10th century there is news of a primitive church dedicated to Saint Stephen in the same place where the Cathedral stands today, some parts of that ancient temple are still preserved, although they are the least since the building was modified between the 11th and 15th centuries and the current architecture we see today dates mostly from the 12th century, with the exception of the Chapel of the Holy Cincture which was built later, in the 14th century, in an extension carried out from a project by Giovanni Pisano.

Despite its extensive construction over time and the multiple reforms the temple has a unitary aspect, with a classic line typical of the Italian area and decoration with green marble typical of area. Inside the temple is the nave area with three naves separated by semicircular arches supported bymarble columns. This area is at a lower level than the Renaissance transept, so to bridge the gap, small steps were placed that take us to the construction designed by Pisano from where you can access the main altar and the group of chapels at the head that have been decorated with multiple frescoes by Renaissance artists.

On the outside, serving as the link between one of the Gothic facades and another Romanesque there is an exterior pulpit that was used to display the Holy Cincture. Architecturally, the work was designed by the artist Michelozzo Michelozzi while its decoration was commissioned by Donatello himself. Its construction took several years due to the busy schedule of both artists.

The pulpit rests on a capital made of bronze and decorated with plant elements as well as an exquisite angel that supports the richly carved cornices and from which fifteen radial corbels come out that serve as direct support for the pulpit. Its enclosure was made of pinkish marble and with beautiful reliefs of dancing angels that further enhance the centrifugal sensation of the pulpit and refer to the reliefs that we could find in Roman tombs; each of the relief scenes, seven in all, has been separated from the others by pillars. As an enclosure and over the pulpit there is a canopy that protects it.

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