the silver altar

The silver altar, located under the large central apse featuring the Christ Pantocrator, was made in Rome in 1771 by the Frenchman Luigi Valadier, at the behest of Archbishop Francesco Testa. The altar is a late Roman Baroque piece, decorated on the lower section with five medallions depicting scenes from the life of the Virgin Mary: the Virgin and Child; the Annunciation; the Visitation; the Wedding; the Flight into Egypt. The altar is adorned with a crucifix, seven bronze candelabra and six statues of the saints linked to the Cathedral: Peter, Paul, Castrense, Benedict, Louis IX, Rosalia. The centrepiece is the oval relief in the centre of the antependium with the Nativity of the Virgin Mary, flanked on the left by Pentecost and on the right by the scene of the Annunciation. The altar, the reliefs and the statuettes are entirely made of silver and are also partly gilded. Despite its late date, the piece fits perfectly into the medieval setting, thanks also to the use of dark colours.