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ANTONIO BARLUZZI and the PILGRIMAGE CHURCHES

 

Church of the Angels, Shepherds' Fields
 

The Franciscans acquired the site in 1909, and extensive excavations in 1951-2 revealed ruins of a church dating back to fourth or fifth century and a Crusader monastery. It is one of two sites, the other being Greek Orthodox, which commemorate the angels announcing the birth of Jesus to the shepherds in the fields outside Bethlehem. Barluzzi’s church was built in 1953-4 on the hillside above the caves where the shepherds may have sheltered.

The building is polygonal with five straight and five projecting sides, with a dome over the central space, and has been likened to a Bedouin tent. A bronze angel hovers over the doorway.

The interior is flooded with strong angelic light from the circular windows below the concrete dome, and from the circular glass lights set in it. Three recessed apses below are decorated with vivid frescoes by Umberto Noni, showing the angels announcing the birth of Jesus, and his birth in the stable at Bethlehem.

The church was thoroughly restored 2003-4 including waterproofing the dome, repairing damaged concrete and retiling the interior.

 


 

 
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