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Flavius Stilicho
Cremona elephant
Frederick II
Basilica di San Lorenzo
Cappella Cittadini

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Milan - Basilica di San Lorenzo

Milan - Basilica di San Lorenzo
Milan is the city capital of the Lombardy and the second most populous city in Italy after Rome. Known during Roman times as "Mediolanum" it was the place, where in 313 Constantine I and Licinius met and "signed" the "Edict of Milan", giving Christianity a legal status within the Roman empire.

At the end of the Roman empire Milan was besieged by the Visigoths in 402, looted by the Huns in 452, and taken by the Ostrogoths in 539. Only 30 years later is belonged to the Kingdom of the Lombards, until in 774 Charlemagne defeated the Langobards and added Milan to the Carolingian empire. During Barbarossa´s (Frederik I) "Italian Campaigns" Milan was taken and destroyed to a great extent.

Milan came back and flourished, when in 1386 the construction of the cathedral began, the Basilica di San Lorenzo had survived about a 1000 years! It was built between the late 4th and early 5th centuries. Some scholars connect it to (Arian!) bishop Auxentius (355-372) others to Flavius Stilicho (359 – 408) a powerful "magister militum" in the Roman army and close relative of Thedodosius I.

Desasters like fires and earthquakes have hitten the Basilica different times, but it got rebuilt, renovated, reconstructed and of course altered may times. Today the Basilica di San Lorenzo is a "complex" of churches and chapels.

The central structure is a squarish tetraconch with four apses, one in each direction. The chapels radiate from the ambulatory.

The Cappella Cittadini is one of these chapels. A frescoe, dated to the the 13th century, runs around the left apse. Between other animals are two elephants.

Here is one of them.

Elephants are very rare species in medieval times. The elephants here were probably inspired by the "Cremona elephant", presented to Frederick II by Sultan of Egypt Al-Kamil. Frederick II used the elephant in a parade in Cremona (80kms southeast) in 1237.


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