The cross, carved on both sides, and carved from a single block, is currently placed at the counter facade, on a thick not original marble base.
The front of the cross is bordered by a continuous decoration with tapes, palms and grapes (also present on the back) ornate with shells; the lateral surface between the two decorations, has a pattern forming a bundle of flowers and bay leaves with the apex facing downwards.
The front is carved very distinctly, the crucified Christ, who stands out from the cross below, by the whiteness of the most polished marble: his thorns crowned head falls on the right shoulder, his hair falls down in curls on both the sides of his face in great detail, the cloth knotted on the left side adheres to the legs with a thick drape characterized by deep parallel ripples.
Under the suppedaneum, a shield is carved (coat of arms or emblem that it originally contained are missing). Above Christ there is a scroll bearing the inscription INRI in capital letters. The image is accompanied, at the ends of the transversal arm, with the now headless figures of the Archangel Gabriel and the Virgin of the Annunciation; at the top, an also headless pelican (a symbol of Christ’s sacrifice), stands with its baby on the nest and is surmounted by a shell.
The back of the cross has the full length and almost in the round representations of the Madonna and Child. The Virgin is bandaged from the cloak that adheres to her dress bringing out the volume of the body, the posture of the legs and the slight angle of the right knee; the light draping fixed on the left side, from where it descends with regular waves, creates on the front, bundles of dense and fine folds that are loosened in the lower part.
In the four ends of the cross the symbols of the Evangelists are carved: proceeding clockwise from the top, the eagle of St. John, the bull of St. Luke, the winged lion of St. Mark and the angel of St. Matthew.
The work has come to us with significant signs of fractures.
In his sixteenth-century description of the ancient cathedral, Ottobuono Giordano mentions a “great crucifix with the ornament”, estimated 150 shields, as part of a list with the value of each element specified and that later, in the seventeenth-century memories of Verzellino, are referred to the patronage of Cardinal Giuliano Della Rovere during his episcopate in Savona.
It is possible that, in agreement with the local tradition, these short references are to be referred to this cross but according to Fusconi (1977), the crucifix mentioned by Giordano is identified with this work “only in a very hypothetical case” and Zanelli (2000 ), does not exclude the possibility of it coming from another religious complex in the city, such as St. Francis church.
The work was placed in the new Cathedral after being at the bridge “of the Sbarro”, at the beginning of the road to the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Mercy, until 1809 and then from 1812, along the path called “della Tagliata”.
In 1881 Bertolotto announced that the cross was moved to the Cathedral for “a few years”.
AA.VV., cura di Giovanna Rotondi Terminiello, “UN’ISOLA DI DEVOZIONE A SAVONA, il complesso monumentale della cattedrale dell’Assunta”, Marco Sabatelli Editore, Savona, 2002.
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