Lucca is a city that, despite its small size, can offer the visitor attentive innumerable places where legend and history are mixed, arousing curiosity towards the mysteries that make this wonderful city even more full of charm.
There cathedral of San Martino, immediately attracts attention for its unusual asymmetry, which contrasts the sought after perfection ever sought in ecclesiastical buildings: the right arch is indeed much narrower than the left and the central one. And even if this architectural license it could simply be dictated by a logistical problem, since the building had to take into account a pre-existing bell tower, the detail does not cease to amaze, since for thearchitectural harmony it was all, and even certain crooked and asymmetrical structures were considered the work of the devil.
But what really catches the attention of many visitors is the small labyrinth carved in stone, located in the right pillar of the front porch. This figure in bas-relief is one of the most enigmatic of Italy, and although it is present in other churches in Italy and in the world (think of the famous basilica of Chartres), it continues to represent a legendary symbol that many have attributed to the Templars.
The bas-relief, dated between the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, shows an inscription in Latin still visible to his right HIC QUEM / CRETICUS / EDIT DEDA - / LUS EST / LABERINT / HUS DEQ (U) - / OR NULLU - / S VADER - / E QUIVIT / HERE FUIT / INTUS / NI THESE - / US GRAT - / IS ADRIAN - / E STAMI- / NE IUTUS that we can translate with: "This is the labyrinth built by Cretan Daedalus from which no one who entered it could go out except Theseus helped by Arianna's thread". At its center we see a figure consumed by time that according to some scholars represented Theseus and the Minotaur.
Because we find a 'pagan inscription in a catholic church? In ancient times the labyrinth has always symbolized primordial chaos and man's attempt to impose order on him. A personal journey full of dangers in the maze of the brain, which implies the constant possibility of loss, insanity, disorientation. In the course of history the labyrinth was also attributed Magic powers, superstitious and propitiatory, in whose spirits are attracted and trapped evil spirits.
In the legend of maze of Theseus and Ariadne we find, however, a monocursal labyrinth, which deceives but only with its appearance, since it does not present any deviations or deviations: the Arianna's stratagem therefore, it comes to represent more than salvation, a conduct. In ancient man this was identified with rationality.
The Catholicism borrowed this powerful symbolism and made it an allegory of faith. The center of the labyrinth is therefore salvation, that is God, the thread of Ariadne is faith, the only one capable of bringing us back to the divine light and distracting us from sin. The Church rediscovers the powerful transforming force of this archaic design on the human psyche and reproposes it at the service of its dogmas, as a symbol of life, death and rebirth in Christ.
The symbol is also modified in its structure: seven convolutions of the Cretan and Roman labyrinth the medieval labyrinth passes to eleven, number representing sin, being between 10 of the commandments and 12 of the apostles.
However, the characteristic monocursal of the labyrinth is maintained to mean that the "right way" to reach bliss is one and can only be done in one way: by obeying the Church and scrupulously adhering to orthodoxy.
The mysterious labyrinth of Lucca it is there to remind us that only by relying on faith is it possible to save ourselves from madness and from the streets without exit.
The labyrinth still today is a powerful allegory of the human condition, and whether we accept or not the interpretation given to it by the church, it does not cease to fascinate us and entangle us in its play of mirrors and illusions. Perhaps that's why the people of Lucca are so fond of their labyrinth, that it never ceases to offer interpretations full of suggestion.
As if this were not enough the Lucca labyrinth is the protagonist of another legend: it seems that i condemned to death they were brought before the labyrinth, with the promise of being spared if they could solve it: probably doing so would have shown that they have found the right path, helped by faith and divine light.
The interpretations that have been given to date to explain why this little maze was carved right on cathedral of San Martino they are many and are lost in centuries of history, a succession of endless theories and investigations that have not yet found a universally accepted solution. What remains is the great evocative power of this place and an invitation to all visitors to stop and think about the meaning of our individual spiritual journey, and ask what helps us in the difficult moments to find our thread of Arianna, the road that he brings each of us to his own serenity, earthly or otherworldly.