Cathedral of St. Donnino in Fidenza, Emilia Romagna, Italy

This is one of the most beautiful religious buildings in the Emilia region and a great example of Romanesque architecture. It was situated along the Via Francigena, the pilgrim's road leading from France to Rome.
Cathedral of St. Donnino - Fidenza (PR), Emilia Romagna Address: Piazza Duomo - 43036 Fidenza (Pr)
Visiting hours - Cathedral: daily, 7.30 – 12.00 and 15.00 – 17.00
The Museo del Duomo di Fidenza, Via Don Minzoni, 10/A - 43036 Fidenza (Parma), Telephone: (+39) 0524514883
Tuesday to Sunday, 10.00-12.30 and 14.30 -17.30

The cathedral is dedicated to San Donnino, the patron of the town, who was a martyr here, according to the tradition, in 291 AD. As a matter of fact opposite the cathedral, just below the door of san Donnino, are remains of the medieval walls and a roman Bridge on the Stirone river, which was part of the ancient Via Emilia.

The outside

Originally a Romanesque structure begun in the 12th century, it was completed in the Gothic style in the following century. The project was by Benedetto Antelami, who also authored the two statues at the sides of the main portal, representing David and Ezekiel. The majestic facade has 2 towers at the sides, and exhibits three wonderful portals, all decorated with sculptures. The low-reliefs represent historical events of great importance for the population connected to the privileges granted to the Cathedral by the Emperor and the Pope. Along the right side is a covered lodge, ending in a Renaissance Chapel.

The inside

The inside is divided into three naves, and has in the apse a fine fresco cycle of the late 13th century, representing scenes of the Final Judgement. In the crypt there is the urn with the remains of San Donnino, beautifully carved by Giovanni Pietro from Rho.

The stories of St. Donnino

The life and martyrdom of the saint are "narrated" in episodes by a long sculptured band proceeding from the right to the left half-column. In the first scene Donninus is shown in his function of "cubicularius" of Roman emperor Maximinus, that is he had the task of placing the crown on the Emperor's head. In the second, the emperor receives the news of Donninus conversion; the emperor is represented in an angry, pensive attitude, and Donninus is shown escapuing with his followers. In the third episode, the saint with a cross in his hands is pursued by the emperor's guards through the town of Piacenza and is directed to Fidenza. In the fourth episode, Donnino is caught by the guards at the entrance of Fidenza, along the banks of the river, and beheaded. In another scene, the first miracle is represented: the saint rises, takes his head in his hands, and places it on the spot where the church will rise, then his soul is carried by angels to heaven. The final episodes show other miracles, a man healed while praying in the church, then the latter's horse stolen and retrieved thanks to the saint, the collapse of the bridge and a pregnant woman passing on it miraculously saved with her not yet born baby.

The Museum

The Museum is hosted in the locals of the Bishopric Palace, attached to the Cathedral, and is on 3 floors. On the first floor is the chamber with the Tesoro del Duomo (= the Cathedral's Treasure). Also part of the museum is the northern Matroneo (a "matroneo" was in the early Christian Temple a section reserved to women). In the museum are preserved beautiful paintings: an Assumption by Giulio Campi, an Assumption with San Rocco and Deposition by Vincenzo Campi, two Renaissance painters of the Cremona school; a 17th-century Deposition of Jesus and Judas' Kiss by the Genoese school; and paintings with foreign subjects probably brought by pilgrims, among them an 18-th century imace of St Anselmus of Canterbury and the Apparition of the Virgén del Pilàr to St. James.