Gaeta’s lost ambo is discovered

During the historical and documentary research carried out on the 13th century ambo of Saint Lucia, which the Archdiocese of Gaeta wants to re-assemble in the Cathedral, we have identified that part of the ambo (published as missing) with work no. S9e5s, today exhibited in the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston. This ambo, composed of the four panels missing from Gaeta since 1895, reappeared in Boston in the Stewart Gardner Collection in 1897, sold by the antiquarian Pio Marinangeli in Rome. These panels with the symbols of St. Mark and St. Luke, the deer and grouse, together with four others present in Gaeta, formed a large ambo that for its noteworthy size could not belong to the small Church of Saint Lucia (formerly Santa Maria in Pensulis, 10th century) but it is more likely that it came from the Cathedral of St. Erasmus, as some scholars have shown: S. Aurigemma and A. de Santis, Gaeta-Formia-Minturno, Rome 1955 p. 14.

Antica foto della Soprintendenza del Lazio che ritrae le formelle nella Chiesa di S. Lucia.

Old photos of the Superintendent of Lazio that portrays the panels in the Church of St. Lucia .

Ecco una foto delle formelle di Gaeta oggi presenti a Boston nel Museo Isabella Stewart Gardner

Panels of Gaeta, Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston

In the same year (1897) it was sold to the Museum by Pio Marinangeli, along with the famous mosaic of the Medusa the so-called Montebello, excavated in 1892 in the property of Cavaliere Alessandro Piacentini at the Prima Porta on the Via Flaminia. For the latter work (the mosaic), the restitution cannot be requested as it came from a private owner and was exported before the Law 1089/39 came in to being and even prior to that of 1909, but for the ambo, which is Church or State property – and therefore not having these official regulations – if it was not legitimately sold by the parish of Santa Chiara in 1895-6, one could hope for its return to Gaeta.

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