The Chapel of Casa San Sergio

Settignano, Florence

Above: On the outside wall of the chapel a terracotta relief, Milanese artist Nicola Sebastio, represents St. Sergius of Radonezh (1314 - 1392), the patron saint of Russia, where the church is dedicated.

On the outside wall of the chapel a terracotta relief, Milanese artist Nicola Sebastio, represents St. Sergius of Radonezh (1314 - 1392), the patron saint of Russia, where the church is dedicated.

It is in an ecstatic attitude, under the tiny radiate all-holy Trinity, which also do not crush it and draws it to Himself making it lightweight. Russian spirituality tends to soar in the spirit of a 'solar region' (think of the gold of the icons), above the distressing dissonances of matter.
And is typically oriental attitude of the saint, which makes one think of David dancing before the Ark holy (2 Sam 6, 12). Moreover, in front of the Trinity attitude of joy and wonder it is not the most natural and logical?

Under the relief they read a few sentences of the Canticle of St. Sergius:
[...] All the Immensity, Unity that transcends all
the Holy Spirit is:
The Gift that poured out of the abyss and penetrates everything [...]
and all in a transformed light.
God communicates Himself, making a gift to the creation and filling it with self. All of creation becomes like the light of God.

But the physical creation is summed up in man; and God, respecting human freedom, urges him to a collaboration. The most authentic divine man to action cooperation is its passivity in the face to Him. The man becomes an instrument and abode of Divinity. Disappearing in the humility, the man does not claim more admiration, praise, love from men. The soul lives only life and the divine light:
[...] No man, no creature,
nothing in heaven and on the earth will worship the most [...]
Enlightened by the Spirit, baptized in the fire,
whoever you are [...] you are God's throne,
You are the house, are the instrument, you are the light of Divinity [...]
In this total humility of the creature God, that covers so totally transfigure into Himself, makes each of us God: God in God.

At the entrance of the chapel, Nicopeia Virgin welcomes us.
The original icon of Virgin Nicopeia ('Operator of victories') is an ancient Byzantine icon brought from Constantinople to Venice in the early 1200s; currently he stands in a side chapel of St. Mark's Basilica. At the center of the three crosses placed on the head and shoulders of the Mother of God, evoking her virginity before, during and after childbirth, are set three small precious stones - a brilliant, a ruby, a sapphire - the virtues of theological symbols which she was filled with the highest degree.


To the left of the altar, on the back wall, the three symbols of SS. Terracotta trinity: the creative hand and blessing of the Father, the fish (?????), a symbol of the Son: ??s??? ???st?? Te?? ???? S?t??, the dove, symbol of the Holy Spirit.
The altar is topped by a glorious Cross.
Christ is detached from the cross, as already risen, gently welcoming attitude. Remember the ancient crosses, in which Christ was crucified he represented yes but in attitude and royal robes. "When I am lifted up, will draw all men to myself" (Jn 12, 32). Christ is the center of 'universe: to Him converge Heaven and earth.

The Holy Spirit, sent by the Father, hovering on Christ as a dove. Men, attracted by Him, rise en masse along the vertical arm of the cross. Material creation, represented by the stars and the celestial wheel on the control arm, is also involved in Act summary of the crucified and risen Lord. In the Easter of Christ, the Creator and the creature, God and man meet again. It is the event that takes place continuously in the celebration of the Eucharist on the altar of stone surmounted by the Cross.
A symbolism in precious stones was used on the Tabernacle front panels.

The artist wanted to give a figuration to the theological concept of the Mystical Body, the Church, which contains, in a vital truth, the world of souls and Christ. In fact, in the concreteness of the mystical sign of the Eucharist, we live the experience of a wonderful synthesis of the whole Divine plan of our salvation.
On the left door, on a shape of bread, marked by an engraved cross, the immolated and risen Lamb stands out; a red drop of coral on His chest evokes the redemptive Passion, while the jeweled blue quartz cross proclaims His Resurrection.

On the right door is the Church. The Madonna, Mother of the Mystical Body as she was already the Mother of the physical body of Christ, is represented seated, as Queen, almost completely overshadowed by a great transparent quartz crystal. Typical of Eastern spirituality is this attitude of pure transparency of the creature before God, which allows the Creator to live in the divinised creature and reveal Himself to her.

The Church, on its pilgrim way through time, is represented by an ivy leaf with a green malachite in the center, while the souls being purged are depicted by a cross with a purple amethyst in the center. The blessed in Heaven manifesting their glory are represented by a red ruby surrounded by a sunburst of small quartz crystals.

The works that make up the interior decoration of the chapel of Nicholas Sebastio.


from July 18, 2006 the remains of Father Divo Barsotti, who died Feb. 15 of that year. On his grave, a large icon of St. Sergius of Radonezh.
The image is based on that embroidered on the precious pall, dating from 1420, which covered the relics, and that reproduces the appearance of the holy according to the memory of those who had known him. So this is a portrait of the saint, while respecting the canons of the Eastern iconography. The inscription in Russian, in large letters on the sides of the Cyrillic holy face, qualifies and makes true the icon; In fact, he says: The venerable saint Sergius.
All along the frame, chrysography, it has written the first part of the Canticle of St. Sergius. It is in Italian, in Gothic characters, according to an ancient method of contractions, overlapping and interlocking of the letters, in order to also create a decorative game. Reading starts from the top and proceeds clockwise.

The icons of the Virgin and Nicopeia of St. Sergius of Radonezh were written by Sister Margaret Staderini.


Starting from John 15, the Community recognizes the image of the evangelical vine and the branches. Established in the Trinitarian mystery - the three roots - it wants to grow to bear the fruits expected from Divine Farmer - the grapes - from the four branches in which it is structured - the branches -.
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