chapter  6
Sacred Art
Pages 30

Domenico Bernini’s description of the Baldacchino discerns four phases in his father’s design process, the second of which consists of selecting its components such as the twisted columns and the cross.1 These components are treated as the elements of the visual and spatial composition of the Baldacchino, not as bearers of meaning. There is no gloss, for instance, on the design of the bronze columns, enlarged copies of the stone columns traditionally considered to derive from the Temple in Jerusalem.2 But it is hard to imagine that Domenico would have been impervious to the religious symbolism of the Baldacchino. He is, after all, a historian of the Church. Indeed, after the description of the Baldacchino he refers to the Ara Maxima Vaticana, the long poem by Lelio Guidiccioni briefly mentioned in the previous chapter written on the occasion of the Baldacchino’s inauguration. Domenico cites Guidiccioni’s text as additional proof of the esteem that Bernini’s labor had warranted “in those days,” and he paraphrases the poem’s first lines to cast the Baldacchino as “a worthy home of Apostles, treasury of heaven, eternal machine, and sanctuary of devotion,” a hint at the symbolism of the construction.3