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Fr. Ryszard Knapiński
John Paul II Catholic University of Lublin

The Neo-Romanesque Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in Lugano was built in the years 1922–1927, and its decoration with frescoes was created by Vittorio Trainini in stages from 1937 to 1954. The artist was a devout Catholic. He studied the Scriptures and consulted Annibale Lanfranchi, a canon in Lugano, and the art historian Corrado Mezzana from Rome on his theological concepts. The iconographic programme of the polychromy is very rich and subordinated to the message of the main dogmatic and mystagogical content contained in the doctrine of the Catholic Church of the Post-Trident period. The interior reveals a kind of horror vacui. The whole is saturated with paintings, allegorical representations and numerous symbols. Iconic motifs refer to the iconographic tradition of the Church and introduce new themes resulting from the development of the Catholic doctrine, e.g. the depiction of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Added to this is extensive hagiographic iconography. The rich doctrinal iconography with references to ecclesial symbolism illustrates well the principle adopted in Christian art that faith is received not only by hearing the proclaimed word, but also by looking at images: Fides ex visu.

Keywords: Vittorio Trainini, doctrinal iconography, Arma Passionis Christi, iconography of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, hagiographic iconography, Lugano Basilica del Sacro Cuore

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