Religious items made in Italy

Religious items

Holy water stoup - You don't enter a church the same way as you would enter a shop. The interior of a church is a sacred space. This, by the way, is the etymological meaning of the Latin word, "templum", and the Greek word, "temenos", both of which are derived from a common root meaning "cut" or "separate". The perimeter of the temple clearly defines and separates the holy interior from the profane exterior, hence creating a sacred area reserved to the Divinity.

Before entering the holy world of the temple, people must be cleansed through baptism. In a certain way, whenever they enter church, they are invited to ritualise this cleansing by purifying themselves with holy water. Fountains were installed in the vicinities of ancient churches precisely for this purpose. Holy water stoups replaced fountains and, indeed, their shape is directly derived from them. They were first located outside the door, then in the atrium and, lastly, inside the church, near the entrance. The holy water stoup and the baptistery mainly comprise a basin of water.

In traditional symbolism, each ritual basin represents the primordial Ocean, the "waters" of Genesis over which the Spirit of God hovered while creating the universe. It is in reference to these waters that the baptistery or holy water stoup has the power to regenerate and recreate man.

Pilgrim decorations - The homo viator par excellence of the Middle Ages, the pilgrim, usually travelled on foot, especially as religious tradition saw walking as the most virtuous way of travelling. During that period (but the custom had been popular ever since the fall of the Roman Empire), all good Christians were expected to make a journey to an important holy place at least once in their lifetimes. This could be Rome, Santiago de Compostela and, especially, the sepulchre of Christ in the Holy Land.

Ever since early medieval times, the protector of pilgrims has been St James the Apostle who is said to be buried at Santiago de Compostela. Symbols often found in portraits of St James, apart from the pilgrim's staff, are the Flask, the Scallop Shell (Coquille St Jacques for the French) and the Itinerant Map which at that time was a long rolled-up parchment, similar to the "Tabula Peutingeriana".