Paleochristian Revival in Sardinia, Italy: Monasterio di Luras

Recently a monastery located on the Italian island of Sardinia came to my attention and it struck me for reason of its architectural approach, firmly rooted as it is in both the paleochrisitan and Italo-Byzantine traditions. Rather than provide our own breakdown, LAJ was provided with the following write-up about this project and some of the background that informs its particular style and design choices:

A new church with an ancient flavour. This is how the oratory of a traditional monastery in Sardinia, in Luras in the province of Sassari, can be defined. The church is yet still under construction, and was designed in the spirit of an ancient, early Christian basilica with its plurality of naves (the central one being higher), it also has a open-trussed wooden roof and of course an apse. Like the ancient basilicas of the Church, it is characterized by external simplicity on the one hand, counter-balanced by great care taken in the internal decoration of the church. 
Venetian gold and enamel mosaics are being installed in the apse. Every single element takes its inspiration from ancient tradition (common to both the East and West). 
The altar is covered by a ciborium which rests on four marble columns. 
The sanctuary is delimited by a balustrade (or pergola) with icons placed on top. This was a characteristic element of ancient basilicas which in the East over time was transformed into the iconostasis. This particular pergola is inspired by that of the basilica of Torcello in Venice. 
The ambo takes its more ancient and classical form with two opposing staircases. It is positioned in the middle of the nave, in line with the altar. 
The floor is also inspired by the ancient church pavement. 
The works are progressing slowly because the mosaic decorations have very high costs and we have to wait for the arrival of donors to finance them.
The paleochristian inspiration also concerns the sacred images as well, created entirely in an Italo-Byzantine style. The apsidal mosaic of Christ enthroned is inspired both by the frescoes of Saccargia (an ancient monastic basilica in Sardinia) and by the imagery found in the niche of the pallia found in the confessio of St. Peter's in the Vatican. The mosaics of the Mother of God and Saint John the Baptist are a copy of those present in the apse of the Lateran basilica while the pergula cross is inspired by the crosses of an anonymous painter active in central Italy in the thirteenth century and called the "master of the blue crosses." The icon of the Mother of God of Consolation reproduces that of Santa Maria Antiqua, one of the oldest Marian icons in Rome that is today preserved in the Basilica of Santa Maria Nova (now known as Santa Francesca Romana); this was the icon that Saint Gregory the Great carried in procession through the Roman streets. 
The large chandelier is inspired by the one that Emperor Frederick Barbarossa donated to the Aachen cathedral a thousand years ago. 
Of course, a picture is worth a thousand words, so here are a few photographs of this fascinating project of paleochristian revival, beginning with a nice overhead view showing the altar, ciborium, balustrade and ambo:

A detail of the icons so far found along the top of the balustrade

A closer look at the altar and ciborium. One will note that they have also installed lampada on the ciborium (as was traditionally the case).

Behind the altar, looking toward the apse, we see some of the mosaic work that has been installed to date (work which is of a particularly Byzantine character):

Finally, the reproduction of the ancient Marian icon originally found in Santa Maria Antiqua:

Like all monastic communities, the monastery lives off the products it produces, in this instance honey, liqueurs, oil, preserves, candles, and confectionary. 

To follow the progress of the works of the monastery or to offer your support, you may wish to visit them on their social media page. 

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