Rural church of saint Maria from Sibiola

 

At about 3 kms. from Serdiana in a plain-hilly zone surrounded by olive-groves rises the ancient Church of Saint Maria of Sibiola, one of the masterpieces of Romanesque art built in Sardinia by the Benedictine monks of of St. Vittore's abbey of Marsiglia, between the end of the XI and the first years of the XII century. Placed in a small highland among cultivated hills with vineyards and olive-groves where, with every probability, an ancient agricultural center driven by the same monks rose. The arrival of the Vittorini's monk contributed notably to the development of the village. 
 

From a document of the Archives of Pisa regarding the Pisano's dominion in the Cagliari's area, is deduced that Sibiola is accredited as the richest village among all those reported. It can be inferred by the tributes that were payed. The number of 258 "starellis" "ancient unit misure" of wheat and as many of bowline decidedly point out at an elevated life style, on which went to engrave the presence of the Vittorini's monks or a considerable number of inhabitants (*).  
When Sardinia passed in the Catalan-aragonesi's hands, the big center of Sibiola was given in concession to Giacomo Burgues, which had to furnish every year to the King a horse for three months (*).  
After 1355 the Burgues family sold the village to the Revenue, and then it subsequently came granted to the feudal Berengario of Entensa (*). . 
  
(*) F. Floris “Feuds and vassals in Sardinia”–Cagliari 1996 
 
Hypothesis on the name
For What it concernes the name it is difficult to establish with certainty the origin because there are no specific documentations at regard. Among the hypotheses there is the linguistics one that makes the name derive Sibiola or Sipiola from some Latin expression, subsequently vulgarized, making reference to the termination olla from olea or from the hero Jolao; and the historical one that unites the name Sibiola to that of Sibilla hypothesizing the sacredness through the cult of the famous prophetess. However both the hypotheses are to consider debatable.  
 

Style
The building, of modest proportions is built in sandstone. It introduces a plant to two disegual aisles, each with it's own semicircular apse and its own entry, divided by ample arcades leaning on cruciform pillars. The prospectus is framed by two bars to the sides and from a series of hanging bows. In the superior part of the façade, on which opens a monofora "one hole windows" and a bifora "two hole windows" that give light to the aisles, there are some trachitich borders delimited by a series of circular "copelle" in the past time dressed from polychrome ceramic and from a rose window with a floral geometric sketch. The staircase in masonry, for the access to the roof, is very characteristic, incorporated on the left side of the church and substained from big corbels , that remember the nuragic structure. Presumably, since in a recent intervention of restauration, have been found a basin in sandstone with a small drainage (sacrificial altar?) and other finds datable to the nuragic period, the building rises on the bases of another temple as " tall place ". 
 
External: Façade


External: Façade The façade is constituted from square tiles of different color; in one of these there is a writing, by now consumed by the time in witch is retained that the Latin expression is engraved "IN NOMINE DOMINI ET MARIAE" (In the name of the Lord and the Holy Mary). In the superior part of the façade in witch opens a "monofora" and an elegant "bifora" that respectively gives light to the left and right aisles, are noticed some trachitich borders delimited by a series of circular "coppelle", in the past time dressed in polychrome ceramic according to a characteristic decorative taste of these churches, verifiable also in the small rose window, polychromic and with a floral geometric sketch, situated in the center of the same façade. In the façade we find two arc portals also.   
 
Sides and back part
Sides and back part The sides and the external absidal zone are very simple and finished up with a frame (with bows leaning on little feet sculptured with animal and floreal and geometric motives) in everything similar to the façade. Particularly the left side introduces a characteristic staircase in masonry that allows the access the roof, hold up by corbels nailed in the wall that remember the inside stairways of the nuraghis. This side introduces also narrow centered "monifora" (small single hole window). The right side is countersigned by a portal overhung by a narrow "monofora". On the back are introduced two apses: the great and the minor one; the light originates from "monofora" located in the greatest apse and from two small holes disposed in the pediment.   
 

Inside
Inside The inside is divided in two aisles by ample arcades leaning on croos-form pillars on which the stone vaults unload their weight, made of typical transverse arcs; frames, shelves and pilaster strips, they underline the articulation of the masses with suggestive light and shades. The shelves result variedly decorated: one with classicist ovules, another with three leaves of acanthus and the last with two birds frontally disposed to a cup (Typicall Byzantine iconography). The inside covering is in bricks of sandstone. The furnish is typical of the Romanesque churches of the XII century: in the greatest aisle it's present only one altar overhung by a wooden crucifix; while in the small apse in a niche there is the statue of Sant'Anna with the Holy Mary Child. In the past, to the exit of the church, you could find a "saint water recipient" original to the canons of the Romanesque art; but from 1898 it had benn moved to the parish church of the S.S. Savior while behind the altar was situated a retable of the XVcentury entitled "The universal judgment"; you can find it today at the National Pinacoteca of Cagliari.  
 
Currently the Commune is realizing, in the surrounding area of the temple, a thematic Park for the exploitation of the monument and the local traditions. The initiative intends to stimulate, both the start of promotional activity for the agriculture and the sheep-raising for the increasing of the traditional economy, and both the cultural activities, sporting and recreation with the realization of horse riding, cycle footsteps and a field of minigolf.  
 
The access to the Park and the external area to the Church square is free; the inside of the Church is visitable instead on application, also by telephone, to the Priest or to the Town Offices.  
 
Retablo
Retablo The two surviving tables of the native retablo of Saint Maria of Sibiola go up at the end of 1400 and are still preserved at National Pinacoteca of Cagliari where they had been brought at the end of the 1920th, for the restauration. Originally is thought they were situated behind the altar as it was tradition in the Spanish pictorial school. The work, subsequently to a vast criticism, has been attributed to the Teacher of Olzai , an anonymous Sardinian painter, author of another work preserved in Olzai (Sardinian Town) of which he has taken the appellative. It's by now common opinion that the teacher is to identify, as the professor Ainaud De La Sarte in , in Lorenzo Cavaro of the Cagliari school of Stampace ( name of quarter) , where the Cavaros worked for different generations and of which were the greatest exponents reaching a good name and a discreet succession. According to another researcher, professor Carlo Aru, true initiator of the history of the art in Sardinia, the Teacher of Olzai would be identifiable with the founder Antonio Cavaro, father of Lorenzo and he would really see him represented with the two tables coming from the church of Saint Maria of Sibiola. The work shows that, besidet the proposed identifications, our Teacher suffered particularly the influence of the Catalan painting in particularly of the painter knwon with the name of Teacher of Castelsardo (Sardinian Town) that worked for a long time in Sardinia. The admiration of the Teacher of Olzai is deduced by the tables of Sibiola where comes up elements that are proper of the Teacher of Castelsardo.   
 
The table that was to the left represents, from the lower part, the “Universal Judgment” planned on three levels: The hell with the illustration of the the damned punishments. In the central level, the Purgatory, are present St. Michael Arcangelo and the Madonna as mediator between the sinners and Christ. In the superior part, the Heaven, a group of souls with two angels that play the trumpet in prayer to the Savior's feet represented among Saints and inserted in the usual almond contour to point out the presence of Jesus to those people who arrive in Heaven. In the tall part of the panel it's represented “The Annunciation” with the archangel Gabriel that announces the birth of Jesus to Maria and on the top left the Lord that sends the Spirit Saint. The other table, in the low panel, represents two saints whose cult was very diffused in the epoch: St. Matteo and Sant'Antonio Abate. In the superior panel is represented, in a concise way, an “Adoration of the Magi” with a small building with skew roofs and a foreshortening of landscape. The retablo of Saint Maria has in conclusion the same function of the religious painting of the Middle Ages born with the principal purpose to divulge the histories of the Savior of the Madonna and of the Saints.  
 
Although, as before mentioned, the original of the retablo is not enjoyable, it is nevertheless possible to admire a copy in a natural greatness in the counsil room of our Commune.  

Data di ultima modifica: 19/10/2016


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