Cattedrale di San Martino – Past Italia

A calling point for pilgrims from the north on their way to Rome, Lucca Cattedrale or Cathedral is the resting place of one of the most important holy images of the Middle Ages…


Saint Martin’s Cathedral in Lucca is famed for housing the Holy Face of Lucca (Il Volto Santo di Lucca), a large wooden crucifix supposedly sculpted by Nicodemus, who helped lay Jesus’s body in the tomb.

In precisely what way Nicodemus received divine help to reproduce the facial features of his Lord is contested, but the present Holy Face is known to be a 13th-century copy, made after the original – which apparently made its own way from the Holy Land to Tuscan shores by unmanned boat in 742 – had been chipped to ruin by relic-hunting medieval pilgrims.