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The Civic Museum

On Dec. 7, 2013, a museum dedicated to artist Lorenzo Ferri (1902-1975), who was an Italian sculptor, painter, restorer, sindonologist and italian educator.

The museum consists of the museum section i.e. the former Mattei Hospital and the branch section i.e. the former Augustinian convent.
The two venues house a collection of works donated by the artist’s heirs to the municipality of Cave.
The works within the museum section are arranged in chronological order to give visitors a 360-degree view of the artist’s journey.

Lorenzo Ferri (1902-1975)

A sculptor as well as a painter, medallist and scholar of the Shroud, the son of Ernesto Ferri (1869-1938) and Ersilia Ricchi (1870-1953), the third-born after Cesare (1884-1979) and Amleto (1900-1980), when the family moved to Rome in 1913, as soon as he was 14 he became the sole pupil of sculptor Giuseppe Fallani, restorer of the Sacred Papal Palaces. He attended (1919-1920) the San Giacomo School of Ornamental Art, masters Antonino Calcagnadoro and Ermenegildo Luppi.

In 1921 he graduated from the Institute of Fine Arts in Rome and created his first statue, Angelina. He attended a highly educated missionary, his cousin Father John Genocchi, from whom he learned his love for Michelangelo. He participated in the competition for the monument to Goffredo Mameli in Genoa in 1924[4] and was Angelo Zanelli’s assistant for a short period; the following year he participated in the competition for the monument to the Fallen in Mercato Saraceno. Won boarding school (1925-1926) at the Mint School in Rome, studied bas-relief and medals with Giuseppe Romagnoli. From 1926 to 1929 he was in Argentina, in Buenos Aires, where he exhibited in the Amigos del Arte gallery, collaborated with architect Mario Palanti, and won the first prize Exposición de Artes Aplicadas e Industriales with the bas-relief “Legend of Orpheus.” He made some busts: Giovanni Zirardini, Notary Esteban Benza, Felipe Cortesi-the Apostolic Nuncio in Buenos Aires, Orante.

Back in Rome, he taught public school and evening classes at St. Peter’s Oratory founded by Bishop F. Borgongini Duca, and frequented the cultured and stimulating environment of the priests who revolved around the Oratory. In 1929, he began studying the Shroud of Turin at the urging of Bishop G. Barbetta and Cardinal Alexis-Henri-Marie Lépicier (whose bust he executed). He opened his own studio, a hotbed of young talent, where Alfredo Romagnoli, Fulvio Carletti, Alberto C. Carpiceci, Armando Palamaro, Athos Marri.

From 1935 to 1939 he moved to teach in Benghazi, Libya, where in 1938 he exhibited numerous works at the Interprovincial Exhibition. Performs reconstruction of Leonardo da Vinci’s Last Supper for the refectory of the Cathedral, a starting point for in-depth study of the work and the artist. The works made in Benghazi: the Pieta of Barce, the Face of the Fatherland in the Lyceum, the continuous high relief on the History of Fascism in the Tonini house, are presumed destroyed. Contributed to the cultural fortnightly Perseus, edited by A.F. Della Porta in 1939 with a series of articles on art.

Moved to Salerno, in 1940 he executed the frescoes of the Church of the Body of Christ in Nocera and other works in Pagani and Salerno. He participated in the Triennale d’Oltremare (May 1940) in Naples. Seconded in 1941 to the Superintendency of Salerno and Potenza, he carried out surveys, collaborated in the restoration and reconstruction of several buildings in archaeological areas. Performs the statue Extreme Farewell. In 1942 he collaborated with Ernesto Vergara Caffarelli on the restoration of the Laocoon (Vatican Museums). From 1943 in Rome, for the Superintendent of Monuments of Rome collaborated on the restoration of the bombed Basilica of San Lorenzo fuori le mura.

In 1946 he returned to public school teaching. In 1947 after winning the competition, he executed the Monumental Nativity Scene (eight large plaster statues) for the Pallottine Fathers. In 1948 he was a finalist in the competition for the Bronze Doors of the Vatican Basilica and executed a sketch for the 2nd grade. In 1949 he executed the apsidal fresco “The Pieta and the Seven Founding Saints” in the S. Giuliana Falconieri Church in Rome, for which he later also executed the ceramic Madonna, Way of the Cross and Tabernacle.

Invited to the First International Conference for the Study of the Holy Shroud in Rome in 1950, he presented the artistic and scientific material resulting from his studies, met and frequented leading sindonologists. In 1952 he was received in private audience by Pope Pius XII, to whom he presented the face of Jesus Christ reconstructed from the Shroud. In 1954 he executed the bronze bust of Trilussa for the City of Rome. Executed in marble the statue of Our Lady Queen, for the St. Joseph of Cluny Institute in Paris. In 1957 he executed “Christ Alpha Omega,” a travertine bas-relief for the Verano Monumental Cemetery. In 1958 he executed the bas-relief “Ecce Homo” for the Piazza San Francesco di Assisi in Rome. In the Rieti valley he made: at Poggio Bustone a St. Francis in travertine (1955); at S. Maria della Foresta the group of five statues of “St. Francis declaiming the Canticle of the Creatures” in travertine (1960); at Greccio the ceramic Immaculate Conception in the apse (1965-1966). He executed the marble bust of G. Giolitti at the Pincio (1959) and the statue of the Immaculate Conception in Aquino. Produced (1960-1963) for the Shrine at Knock (Ireland) the large marble group of the Apparition of Our Lady, St. Joseph and St. John.

Between 1963 and 1965 he executed the bronze door for the Memorial in Jakarta (Indonesia) and 9 statues (Angelina, The Reluctant Virgin, The Waiting, The Bride, The Page, Extreme Farewell) in bronze and marble for the museum in the same city. From 1964 is the Pieta, a bas-relief for the Mercato Saraceno hospital. n 1965 he executed 3 large mosaic panels, “Christ on the Background of Africa,” “Our Lady and St. Joseph,” and 10 stained glass windows for the Church of the Comboni Missionaries in Rome. During these years he made busts for schools: Virgil, G. Verdi, E. Q. Visconti, C. Petrocchi, A. Rosmini, L. Manara.

In 1967 for the Sperlonga museum he identified some key fragments and reconstructed the head of” Polyphemus,” reconstructed the position of the figure’s leg and right foot. In 1968 he began the bronze door for the collegiate church of S. Maria Assunta in Cave (RM), dedicated to Our Lady (presented to Pope Paul VI in 1970 and inaugurated in 1972).

Academician Tiberino, executes the medal for the centenary of Rome’s capital city. Meanwhile, he completes, for the City of Rome, the large white Carrara marble statue of Christ the Redeemer in the Flaminio Cemetery. Having already made a war memorial in Nepi, he executed the monument to Partisan Edmondo Riva (inaugurated in 1982) and the Torn Crucifix for the Municipality of Monterotondo in 1974.

Studies on the Shroud have been going on for more than forty years, taken up by newspapers, publications and television reports; he continues the “Reconstruction to Life of the Body of the Man of the Shroud” which he is working on until his last day, while he prepares a large Shroud Exhibition to be held at the Caravita Oratory for the Holy Year.

Lorenzo Ferri died in Rome on February 25, 1975, struck down by a heart attack in the midst of his work. His ashes rest at the foot of the majestic statue of Christ the Redeemer. Many of his works are housed in the Lorenzo Ferri Civic Museum in Cave (RM) which can be visited in the Palazzetto Mattei and the former Augustinian Convent. The museum houses the original works donated in 1981 by the Eredi Ferri to the City of Cave.

Lorenzo Ferri