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Sempre In Movimento

January 9, 2015

My American readers have occasionally asked about the title of this blog, Sempre In Movimento. Always on the Go is the best translation I can come up with. It describes my personal approach to life and to writing. Indeed, I am rarely in one spot in either for very long.

Over the past year, several of you from around the world have also inquired about the photo that serves as the header for this blog page. It is a good question indeed! I initially used this photo of mine because I liked the courage and spirit in the subject’s eyes. However, I really didn’t know much about the subject.

The photo was taken a couple of years ago near our home in the Val di Non, Trento, Italy. Although our home is in the small village of Tret, we regularly visit all 38 of the villages in the valley to see relatives and friends. On one such visit to the nearby village of Romeno, I took this photo. It is located on the face of the Chiesetta di San Antonio which stands at the entrance of Romeno’s cemetery. Like many things in this part of Italy, the small church is very, very old, dating to the late 14th century.

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The various affreschi that decorate the church depict the the Miracle of San Giacomo.  The legend has it that after a young man was hanged, Saint Giacomo intervened and the young man continued to live for another 36 days because of Saint Giacomo’s large and strong feet that supported him. Indeed, San Giacomo is always depicted with feet that seem too large for his body for this reason. The affreschi date from the late 1300s and have been restored as well as possible.

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A more precise explanation of the Miracle of Saint Giacomo comes from Pope Callixtus, who said that in the year 102 a certain German was on his way to the tomb of Saint James, having his son with him and they stayed for the night in the city of Toulouse. The innkeeper got the father drunk, and hid a silver goblet in his sack. In the morning, as the pilgrims were about to depart, the host accused them of stealing a goblet and when the object was found in the sack, they were brought before the magistrate. His judgement was that they should give up all their goods to the innkeeper, and that one of them should be hanged. But as the father wished to die for his son and the son for his father, there was a long dispute. In the end the son was hanged, and the father went grieving on his way to the tomb of Saint James. After thirty-six days, he came back to Toulouse and found his son still hanging and alive His son began to comfort him, saying: “Weep not, dear father, for no ill has befallen me! Saint James has borne me up, and sustained me with heavenly food!” Hearing these words the father ran into town, and the populace came and took down the son from the scaffold unharmed and they hanged the innkeeper in his place.

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Saint Giacomo (James) died in 44 AD. By most accounts, he was beheaded by King Herod Agrippa I. He was one of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus and it is traditionally considered the first apostle to be martyred. He was a son of Zebedee and Salome and brother of John the Apostle. He is also the patron saint of Spain. His relics are said to be at Compostela, Spain and for that reason many from the Val di Non near Romeno made a pilgrimage to the site after the plague arrived there in the late 1400s to ask for intervention and pay thanks. Was the young man who was hanged from the Val di Non? Possibly, but probably not. However the story of the Miracle of Saint Giacomo served the population of the valley well as an example of divine intervention in the face of adversary.

The photo that serves as the header for this page is of an individual affresco found above and to the left of the right window on the front of the church. It was at one time part of a bigger scene that dominated the portion of the church front that is now white stucco.I initially thought that this particular affresco was a lovely lady, perhaps Salome, mother of James, who was said to be a pious supporter of the teachings of Jesus. However, I wasn’t sure and I needed some help. After working with local historians for months to pin down the identity in the image, I found an entirely different explanation. I wrote to a friend who lives in Romeno, Giancarlo Graiff, and he in turn contacted several local historians. According to Denis Francisci, who is a member of the Lampi Association, the affresco is the work of the so-called master of Sommacampagna, operating in the fourteenth century in Val di Non. The image, according to scholars, is that of a young beardless Christ in the act of rabbinical teaching. I now accept this explanation and I love the execution of art in this early affresco. The eyes and the raised hand do indeed speak of courage and spirit. Unless I am mistaken, the Austrian flag seems to appear behind the image which would be consistent with the area’s history at the time the affresco was made.

That’s all that I know. Do you have any additional input? I would love to hear from you. Please leave a comment.

Molte grazie a Giancarlo Graiff e Denis Francisci – Il vostro aiuto è sempre apprezzato.

Read author Allen E. Rizzi’s latest books available at Amazon.com

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From → Italy, Travel, Writing

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