You have now entered the Chapter House. ‘Chapter’ refers to the assembly of canons responsible for a given church, so called as during their meetings canons would read a chapter of their Rule (if part of the monastic orders) or a passage from the Sacred Scriptures.
The furniture, in Empire style, is built in solid walnut and mahogany and is functional to the chapter’s assemblies. Every canon was assigned a numbered armoire and corresponding seat. At the centre of room you will find seating for the provost, the head elected by the canons to chair the meeting.
The first ever mention of the canons of the Cathedral of Anagni dates back to 1068, the year in which Pope Gregory VII ordered a reform of community life. In 1250 Pope Innocent IV established the number of canons to be 24, a number which was confirmed by later popes. The number, significantly high especially in relation to other churches, was a reference to the Four and Twenty Elders of the Apocalypse, also represented on the Crypt’s frescos. Nowadays though, the church has only three canons, who also serve as priests.
The display case on the table at the centre contains noteworthy books and documents; among these are the ‘Donazione’ (in English: The Donation) by Pope Boniface VIII, a scroll dating back to the 13th century listing the objects donated to our cathedral by the Pope himself. A number of these items are still with us and are on display in Room 5, so you will be able to admire them in the course of your visit.
On the table there is an 18th century urn, in glazed and gilded wood, which was utilised by the canons of the Chapter to cast their secret ballots. Each canon could express their preference by means of a small red paper ball. He would drop this in a ‘yes’ or a ‘no’ section inside the urn by inserting his arm in a wide opening to the side. The red balls thus fell in the respective trays at the bottom of the urn and would be counted at the end of the ballot.
Hanging above the cabinets are the portraits of four popes of great significance to the history of Anagni: Innocent III, Gregory IX, Alexander IV and Boniface VIII. Additionally, the portrait of Pope Leo XIII is on display above the entrance to the sacristies; he is considered the fifth Pope of Anagni, even though he was from Carpineto Romano, a town within our diocese. Towards the end of the 1800s he founded the ‘Collegio Leoniano’, an illustrious diocesan seminary not far from the city.
By the window, you will see a large reliquary urn. This was created in 1894 and within it are the remains of Santa Oliva Virgin. In the course of a reconnaissance of the urn in 2013, the Saint’s funeral mask was found hidden inside it; this is now on display in Room 3.