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In the Shrine or Hiereion (Sancta sanctorum)

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Home arrowIn the Shrine or Hiereion (Sancta sanctorum)

Santuario.jpgThe majesty and splendour of the sacred space within the cathedral of Monreale reaches its peak when the catechetic itinerary comes to an end, this is understood to mean the baptismal itinerary (up to the time Jacob’s name is changed) and the evangelical itinerary (up to the full communication of the Spirit in Pentecost) and when the living relationship commences with the sanctifying liturgical action of God, united with his bride, the Church.
The contact with the Lord of Glory and the triumphant Church comes about by passing through the second, third and fourth triumphal arch, reaching the double central apse, dominated by Christ Pantocrator and judge (Etimasia) and by the glorious queen Mother, the stainless virgin (:immaculate), Mary.
The court or celestial curia is made of up of angels and saints: the temple of Monreale shines brightly with their presence.

a. The second triumphal arch
With higher arches than the first one, the second triumphal arch is made up of the presence of the six military martyrs, the tondo of Melchizedek and other prophets and the Acheiropoieta face, adored by two large angels.

b. The third and fourth triumphal arch
The third triumphal arch introduces the double central apse and in the upper section it proposes the mystery of the Annunciation. The two pilaster strips are decorated by floral elements, by two stylised saints who, given this detail, allow for a lot of space to be occupied with the respective two columns.
The fourth triumphal arch acts as a precious frame to the internal apsidal basin, dominated by the Pantocrator and by the stainless queen Mother. The tondos that decorate it depart from the image of the Emmanuel.


c. The double central apse, centred on Christ Master and Judge and his Mother.
The majestic central apsidal area has two fulcrums: the first, inside the apsidal basin, is occupied entirely by the figure of Christ, Light of the world, and Master of the new Israel. The second fulcrum, in the upper part of the vault of the second apsidal space, shows Christ the judge, visualised with the throne of judgement on history (or Etimasia).

d. The angels
Linking up with the noteworthy previous presence of the two archangels, Gabriel and Michael, which are also located alongside the immaculate queen Mother, first of all we should consider the adoring action of the cherubs, shown as a crown to the Etimasia and in the cross vaults in front of the two apses dedicated to the pillars of the Church, Peter and Paul. After the archangels and seraphs, we should also consider the angelical tondos which act as the crowning glory of the entire cathedral, they are companions of praise of the holy People of God and faithful custodians of believers.

e. The saints, Peter and Paul, Apostles and Evangelists and the whole formation of witnesses.
The apostles and evangelists, preceded by the holiness and testimony of Peter and Paul, open up the immense formation of people who have followed the light of Christ. In the typology of Monreale, the saints are described with full figure representations or tondos containing their face and body