Skip to the main content

Original scientific paper

THE ROMANESQUE CHURCH OF ST MARY ON MLJET THE QUESTION OF INFLUENCES

Ivana Tomas ; Filozofski fakultet u Zagrebu, Odsjek za povijest umjetnosti


Full text: english pdf 839 Kb

page 59-85

downloads: 1.184

cite

Full text: croatian pdf 839 Kb

page 59-85

downloads: 295

cite


Abstract

The Romanesque Church of St Mary of the former Benedictine monastery on the island of Mljet is a single nave vaulted three-bay building, with a monumental dome over the central part and a complex tripartite chancel. The Mljet church is the most monumental example of one-nave domed architecture on the eastern shores of the Adriatic, and in literature to date the architecture has been correlated with typologically similar Romanesque churches of the southern Italian region of Apulia, with the earliest monuments of what is called the Raša architectural school, and with pre-Romanesque and Romanesque single-nave churches with domes on the eastern coast of the Adriatic. The paper presents previous interpretations of the architectural influences on the Mljet church, and has endeavoured to throw light on certain issues in the interpretation of its architecture, particularly the tripartite chancel, the monumental dome, the three lateral portals and antechamber, by the function of the Benedictine church, which has not been covered by previous writings on the subject. The Church of St Mary was probably built around 1200, which can be concluded from an analysis of its architecture and from analogies with similar heritage buildings on the eastern coast of the Adriatic. The earliest historical source in which it is mentioned, a deed of gift of Stefan First-Crowned of the early 13th century, tends to support the hypothesis concerning the building of the church in around 1200. With the complex tripartite chancel and the monumental dome the church on Mljet is an exception among extant Benedictine monuments along the eastern Adriatic, and deviates from all other typologically similar Romanesque churches of the southern part of the eastern Adriatic and of central Apulia. Although most researchers to date have correlated the Mljet chancel, dome and antechamber with the monuments in Raša, it seems more logical that they should be explained by its function as a Benedictine church. It is more probable, then, that its tripartite chancel in fact mimics the three apses usual in Benedictine buildings with a nave and two aisles. Although the function of the side rooms of the Mljet chancel still remains to be explained, for the moment it is possible to claim that they were not used in the same way as the prothesis and diaconicon of the churches of Raša, for the Church of St Mary originally had a sacristy. It is not possible to ascertain with any certainty whether there might have been altars in these spaces. It seems that the monumental Mljet dome, which in its dimensions stands apart from other typologically cognate monuments on the eastern shores of the Adriatic and in Apulia, should be connected with Benedictine architecture. Although a dome is not common in Benedictine buildings on the eastern Adriatic, numerous examples are recorded in the southern Italian region of Apulia, with which the Church of St Mary’s is often correlated. The similarities between the church on Mljet and several Apulian Benedictine churches with domes are shown by the function of the oculus in the Mljet dome and by the position of its three side portals. It would seem that building of the Mljet antechamber with bell tower should be considered in the context of Benedictine architecture, and not of the narthex of Orthodox churches, for among the Benedictines, an antechamber was usual for pilgrimage churches like the church on Mljet. Also showing that the antechamber should be related to the Benedictines is the iconographic programme of the Romanesque sculpture, particularly the sculpture of St Michael, the cult of whom was particularly widely diffused among the Benedictines, including those on Mljet.

Keywords

Hrčak ID:

193115

URI

https://hrcak.srce.hr/193115

Article data in other languages: croatian

Visits: 2.088 *