Watercolor by Peggy Williams
GUARDIAN, PROTECTOR, LIGHT BEARER
Saint Dominic died in Bologna on August 6, 1221. He was buried in altar in the church of San Nicolò delle Vigne in humble circumstances, "under the feet of the brothers," as was his final request. Between 1228 and 1240, the church of San Nicolò was expanded into the Basilica of San Domencio and in 1233, Dominic's remains were moved into a simple marble sarcophagus situated on the floor in the right aisle of the church to make his tomb for accessible to the many pilgrims, who came in great numbers to pray at his tomb as the cult of Dominic grew. However, it soon became clear that the current space could not accommodate all of the faithful, and in 1264, the brothers commissioned a new tomb for their founder.
This Shrine to St. Dominic would be an ambitious and elaborate masterpiece that would develop in separate stages and end up taking over 500 years to complete. Throughout the entire project, the Shrine was worked on by the best artists and sculptors of their time including a young Michelangelo, who as a student of Niccolò da Bari, contributed at three statues to the monument; San Petronio, the patron of Bologna, San Procolo (who is said to closely resemble the statue of David, made ten years later), and one of the two angels kneeling on either side of the foot of the tomb. Michelangelo was paid thirty ducats by his patron, Francesco Aldovrandi for creating the statue of the handsome angel that artist Peggy Williams has so beautifully interpreted for us.