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The historic Santa Faz de Lucca is three centuries older than previously thought

Rome / The historical crucifix of the Santa Faz of the Italian city of Lucca (center), one of the most revered in medieval Europe, has been dated to the end of the 8th century and not in the 12th as was believed, thanks to research with Carbon-14.

The Santa Faz (Volto Santo), exhibited in the Tuscan cathedral of Lucca, is a monumental 247 cm high walnut crucifix in which Christ appears dressed in a robe.

Until now, most scholars have agreed that the sculpture was a copy made in the 12th century of an original that ended up being lost for unknown reasons, explains the cathedral of Lucca in a statement.

However, the National Institute of Nuclear Physics (INFN) submitted the work for the first time to a carbon 14 analysis to clarify the date of its completion and the results date it between the last decades of the 8th century and the beginning of the 9th century.

This is confirmed by one of the study’s authors, Mariaelena Fedi, a researcher at that institution, who explained that four tests were taken from various parts of the sculpture to verify if some of its pieces were added later.

In this way, the experiment would confirm that it is the original Holy Face, not a copy, and would also make it “the oldest wooden sculpture in the West that has arrived intact to this day”.

One of the most revered icons in the Middle Age

The sculpture, symbol of the walled city of Lucca, was in the Middle Ages one of the most revered icons in Europe and became a pilgrimage destination, being in the middle of the Francigenean route, which crosses the continent to link Canterbury with Rome.

The oldest written document on the Holy Face dates from 1050 and its widespread veneration is demonstrated, among other things, by the number of coins that were minted with its image throughout the continent and have been found even in Sweden.

On the Cross, Jesus of Nazareth appears dressed and covered in a patina of dark ink for unknown reasons, although it has been certified that he was originally a polychrome.

Legend has it that the sacred work was carried out by Nicodemus, a disciple of Christ, and that it remained hidden for centuries in the Holy Land. However, in the 8th century, he arrived on board an unmanned ship to the shores of Luni, facing the Tyrrhenian Sea.

Immediately the inhabitants of Luni and those of Lucca claimed their property, which was settled by putting the sculpture on a cart with oxen that ended up going to the Tuscan city, of which it would end up being a symbol. (June 22, 2020, EFE / PracticaEspañol)

(Automatic translation)

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