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Saint Lussorio’s church

Not far from the center, on the border of Monserrato, there is a small sanctuary named San Lussorio, also known as “sa cresia de is santus” (the church of the saints) or “santu Lixori in mesu de is bingias” (Saint Lussorio in the middle of the vine). For centuries, Sardinians were affectionately devoted to the sanctuary. The most anticipated religious and popular events in Sardinia took place here. This is also captured in the nineteenth-century painting “Festa campestre in Sardegna” of Giovanni Marghinotti.

The Roman style church dated 1100, had a single nave and a seventeenth-century portico, and today only the arch remains. By observing the facade we notice that it is out of axis. This particularity has led to various hypotheses on the original architectural structure. In fact, the building has one central building with an additional structure on the left with a door characterized by a lunette and suspended arches supported by corbels. On the right, adjacent to the church, you can see the former Soro’s house. Today, the house belongs to the municipality.

The central façade made of limestones is divided into two parts; the lower part has a simple wooden portal and the upper part has three separate blind arches that is separated by lesenes (narrow pilaster strips) and bifora (type of window with two openings) resting on a molded shelf. On the very top is a bell tower. To the left of the pilaster is where decorative ceramic basins were displayed. On the top-left of the arch, is a rhomboid decoration. On the left side of each portal is an ashlar (finely dressed stone) with starry decoration. The sanctuary was a destination for pilgrimage. This is documented through the incision of footprints, crosses and letters in the internal jamb of the lateral portal. It was customary in the Middle Ages for Pilgrims to leave a mark of their passage, and for this reason similar engravings are found in many places of worship. Of the original furnishings, nothing remains except for a precious late ancient sarcophagus and a slab of sandstone behind the altar (perhaps a tomb) resting on a column, which is used as a base for three ceramic sculptures of the saints Lussorio, Cesello and Camerino made by the ceramist Claudio Pulli. On the right wall, there are two nineteenth-century tomb slabs. Originally, they were on the floor covering two burials but, during the renovation works, the remains were unearthed and moved under the sarcophagus. At the center of the modern altar set in an urn containing a relic of the saint Lussorio, there is still the authentication document of 1827 kept in a display case, together with sacred vestments, ex voto, ancient clothes and ornaments for the seventeenth-century statues (preserved in the parish church) that are carried in the procession every year. It was part of the original furnishings and is now preserved in the municipality of Selargius, a paliotto from the second half of the eighteenth century attributed to Francesco Massa. A tempera drawing of Giulio Adato, found in a seventeenth-century document, testifies the existence of a retable that has disappeared today. Perhaps attributable to Pietro Cavaro’s workshop, one of the most important in Cagliari. Thanks to that drawing, it was possible to reproduce the printed re-reproduction now preserved in the sanctuary. The sanctuary was for centuries the most important on the island, but from World War II there was a period of progressive degradation, which lasted for decades. It was first damaged by the bombings, then used as a shelter for troops. Finally, in the 50s after the collapse of the roof, it was closed for worship. It followed many years of abandonment. The church was completely depraved of its furnishings, gradually forgotten and became a destination for grazing flocks until the 1990s when a series of recovery works started. From 2000, the church of San Lussorio is in the list of the Italian Christian sanctuaries and after the restoration, it was under the supervision of the Gremio, who also takes care of organizing the festival annually.

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