Lorenzo Ferri was one of those sculptors we may have met many times without knowing it. The harmony of his sculptures and the grace of their shapes make them appear as part of the environment they are in and give moments of peace to those who observe them.
How many Italians have been sitting in Trilussa Square in Trastevere under the statue of the Roman poet? And how many of us have gone to the Prima Porta cemetery to remember an old friend and prayed under the sculpture of Christ the Redeemer?
Thanks to a friendship with Lorenzo Castellani, an archpriest who has been in the collegiate church of Santa Maria Assunta for almost 50 years, Master Ferri has known Cave which, before the second world war, was in full artistic and cultural ferment.
The train connecting Rome with Fiuggi and the Cave station had brought this small town to the centre of the interest of many Roman bourgeoisie who had made beautiful villas here calling on artists and artisans.
Lorenzo Ferri and Monsignor Castellani had worked hard on the studies of the Holy Shroud. At some point in his life, the Shroud had become an obsession of Lorenzo Ferri who wanted to find “the true features of Jesus Christ.” These studies project him to an international level and he became a reference point in ‘shroud lore’.
Meanwhile, the sculptor fell in love with the town and realized a first work for the city: Veronica’s canvas for the “Good Friday Committee”. The canvas is displayed in the collegiate.
For the Collegiate of Santa Maria Assunta, then, he realized a masterpiece: the bronze carved doors that tell the story of the life of the Virgin. The figures of the door can be identified as Ferri himself and Monsignor Castellani, to prove their connection with this unique city.
A door in two majestic parts dominating what was the main square of the village, that was then crossed by a road that changed the appearance of the places.
The Ferri Museum of Cave is right next to the collegiate and is divided into two sections, one that takes you rationally and the other that captures your emotions in a special way.
The first part of the museum is located in a building that looks directly onto the main road, which in the past housed the hospital of the town, and is divided into three floors. Along the museum trail are the artist’s plaster sketches, including that of Trilussa in Rome.
The second is in the underground of the former Augustinian convent of the church of Santo Stefano. A truly unique and original complex with two churches, one upper and one lower and several tunnels leading to the convent, which today is the seat of the municipality.
Through a narrow passage you enter an incredible room, with brick vaults, stone facades and terracotta floors. A place of uncertain age in which it is understood that it has been part of the history of Cave.
And here, there are lights that create magic between the pillars and the arches in which you can see the majestic sculptures by Lorenzo Ferri. There are the chalk figures of the Monumental Nativity scenes, 9 tall figures more than 4 meters high built between 1947 and 1948 for a Pallottine Fathers’ Concert for the Sant’Andrea della Valle presepe in Rome.
The sculptures represent the Epiphany with the three Magi, of which one kneels, with their respective page boys carrying their gifts to Mary, St. Joseph, and the baby Jesus.
A visit to the Ferri Museum, combining the charms of the place with the magic of these sinuous and majestic shapes, warrants a trip to Cave and the discovery of an original town.
A curiosity: The Cave Presepe is a candidate for the Guinness records as the highest ever nativity scene. Soon the verdict!