The Romanesque gate of the former Trinitarian hospital of San Tommaso in Formis sports a beautiful, if somewhat strange, mosaic, the work of Master Jacobus and his son Cosimatus.
The mosaic, which dates back to 1218, depicts Christ seated on a throne. With his right hand he grasps the wrist of a white captive, whose ankles are shackled, and who holds a cross; with his left hand Christ grasps the arm of a black captive, whose ankles are also shackled. The Latin inscription around the mosaic reads (in translation): 'The sign of the Order of the Holy Trinity and of Captives'.
The hospital belonged to the Ordo Sanctissimae Trinitatis et Captivorum (Order of the Most Holy Trinity and of the Captives), better known as the Trinitarians, which was set up in the late 12th century. The Order's mission was to help free Christian slaves held captive by Muslim pirates.
See also: the Trinitarian church of San Carlino.
My name is David Lown and I am an art historian from Cambridge, England. Since 2001 I have lived in Italy, where I run private and
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