The Cathedral was built between 1072 and 1104 by order of Bishop Peter of Salerno. Legend has it that Bishop Peter was sent to Constantinople as Papal Legate. In the course of his stay he healed the byzantine Emperor, Michael VII, from sudden illness thanks to St Magno’s intercession. The Emperor was extremely grateful for such a miracle and was therefore very generous with the Bishop. Hence, once back in Anagni, the Bishop was able to complete construction of the Cathedral.
The interior boasts Romanesque decorative features, such as the alternation of pillars and columns along the nave, as well as Gothic ones. The latter were added in the course of the restoration completed in 1250, commissioned by Bishops Albert and Pandolfo. The two bishops wanted wooden roof trusses along the central nave with pointed arches to support the new roofing. They were also responsible for the ribbed ogival vaults on the clustered piers of the transept.
The ornamentation of the walls, in imitation ashlar, was accomplished in the 1930s and 1940s, once the paintings and modern stuccoes which had completely altered the medieval appearance of the church were removed. This ornamentation was a decorative technique widely utilised in the 13th century, of which there are patchy remains in Our Saviour’s Chapel, already visited upstairs.
The Cosmati flooring, which dates between 1224 and 1227, is the work of Cosma di Jacopo di Lorenzo and his two sons, Luca and Jacopo, who were also responsible for the gorgeous flooring in the Crypt.
The presbytery, altar, ciborium and Easter candelabra were probably completed in the course of the first half of the 13th century. The final touch was given by the sumptuous Episcopal chair, crafted by Vassalletto of Rome.
All of the paintings in the three apses are of Modern manufacture.
The decision to use clear seating along the central nave was taken in order to allow a better view of the mesmerising Cosmati flooring. This non-intrusive solution has been favoured by both the authorities and the Cathedral’s Chapter.
Please walk forward, along the cordoned walkway, to access the Caetani Chapel, marked Number 7 on our itinerary.