of Saint Anastatia

A brief description.

"The largest church in Verona was founded by the Dominicans Bevenuto da Bologna and Niccolo da Imola in 1290, and belongs to the Dominican (Black Friar) order. It was, however, consecrated in 1471 only and completed in 1481. It is built on the site of an older and much smaller church likewise dedicated to St. Anastasia, of which nothing remains save the name. The facing of the lofty facade is unfinished and only covers the lower portion of the building on each side of the impressive portal. Acces to the church is though the mullioned twin-ogival arched doorway.
The doors are framed by gracefully fluted narrow pilasters of variously coloured marble rising to form a Gothic arch above the mullioned aperture. The carving on the architrave dates from the 14th century and resembles the decorative work on the Scala family tombs. The frescoes above, however, date from the early 15th century and are much deteriorated.
The church possesses a high, mellow brick bell-tower built in the 15th century.
Written croisbeauty
on February 26, 2003.

The interior of the church is one of the most outstanding examples of Gothic church architecture in Verona. Its proportions and various elements of its design, however, are still markedly Romanesque. In front of the first column facing the nave are holy water stoups supported by human figures in a crouched sitting position, known as the "hunchbacks" of St. Anastasia.

In the sacristy to the left of the transept is preserved the famous fresco "St. George Saving the Princess from the Dragon", by Antonio Pisano, named Pisanello, ca 1395-1455.

Saint George and the dragon

"The best known form of the legend of St. George and the Dragon is that made popular by the "Legenda Aurea", and translated into English by Caxton. According to this, a terrible dragon had ravaged all the country round a city of Libya, called Selena, making its lair in a marshy swamp. Its breath caused pestilence whenever it approached the town, so the people gave the monster two sheep every day to satisfy its hunger, but, when the sheep failed, a human victim was necessary and lots were drawn to determine the victim. On one occasion the lot fell to the king's little daughter. The king offered all his wealth to purchase a substitute, but the people had pledged themselves that no substitutes should be allowed, and so the maiden, dressed as a bride, was led to the marsh. There St. George chanced to ride by, and asked the maiden what she did, but she bade him leave her lest he also might perish. The good knight stayed, however, and, when the dragon appeared, St. George, making the sign of the cross, bravely attacked it and transfixed it with his lance. Then asking the maiden for her girdle (an incident in the story which may possibly have something to do with St. George's selection as patron of the Order of the Garter), he bound it round the neck of the monster, and thereupon the princess was able to lead it like a lamb. They then returned to the city, where St. George bade the people have no fear but only be baptized, after which he cut off the dragon's head and the townsfolk were all converted. The king would have given George half his kingdom, but the saint replied that he must ride on, bidding the king meanwhile take good care of God's churches, honour the clergy, and have pity on the poor. The earliest reference to any such episode in art is probably to be found in an old Roman tombstone at Conisborough in Yorkshire, considered to belong to the first half of the twelfth century. Here the princess is depicted as already in the dragon's clutches, while an abbot stands by and blesses the rescuer."

Herbert Thurston. Transcribed by Michael T. Barrett.
The Catholic Encyclopaedia, Volume VI

Online Edition  by K. Knight


Princess from the fresco  'Saint George Saving the Princess of Trebisonda from the Dragon', 1438.
Probable the same woman of the painting 'Portrait of a girl' (ca 1433,
oil on panel, 43x30 cm, Louvre).  Experts means she is not Margherita Gonzaga, but Ginevra d'Este, which became engaged to Sigismondo Malatesta in 1434, (Kindler: Malerei Lexikon, s.v. Pisanello).

Italy 2004, Mi 2958, Sc


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