The saint with the crown of laurel
This 19th century statue of an anonymous bearded saint, holding a crown of laurel in his hand, stands on one of the spires on the South side of the central Terrace. Its size and strength are emphasized by a well-proportioned body which recalls Greek and Roman heroes. The design and stylistic elements of this neoclassical work indicate that it was produced by the flourishing sculpture workshop active at the Duomo throughout the turbulent 19th century. Activities in the building sites run by the Veneranda Fabbrica were stepped up in 1805, in the months leading up to Napoleon’s coronation as King of Italy, when the Emperor ordered them to hurry up and complete the work on the Cathedral. The beautifully shaped Candoglia marble expresses beauty, harmony and balance. The figure is supported on its extended right leg, which is balanced by the bent left arm holding a crown of laurel. The left leg is bent and rests on a rectangular ashlar, as if to stress that an important target has been reached. The bust has a slight torsion which is created by the proud bearing of the figure which looks into the distance. The laurel bush was a symbol of glory and victory for the ancient Romans. It was considered a sacred plant, and used to honour poets and heroes.