Alexei Lidov

Alexei Lidov

Robert Lehman Visiting Professor
The rite of Lo Scoppio del Carro in the sacred space of Renaissance Florence
Alexei Lidov


Alexei Lidov is an art historian and Byzantinist, a specialist in Byzantine iconography, Christian sacred images and theory of art. He is the founder and director of the Research Centre for Eastern Christian Culture in Moscow (since 1991), the head of the Department at the Institute for World Culture of Lomonosov Moscow State University, a Full Member (academician) of the Russian Academy of Arts, and a Member and Fellow of St Catherine’s College of Oxford University (elected in 2016). He is the author of more than 120 research publications in many languages, among them 30 monographs, catalogues and collections of articles. Prof. Lidov coined the term 'hierotopy' and established a new field of studies in the creation of sacred spaces.

Project Summary

This project deals with the phenomenon of the Holy Fire. According to the Eastern Orthodox Church, the Fire descends every Great Saturday of Easter upon the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, a miracle well documented since the ninth century. It seems very significant that the Holy Fire was perceived as a kind of important relic, which could be preserved and transferred from Jerusalem to any other place of the Christian world in special lanterns. One of these lanterns with the Holy Fire, according to the tradition, was brought by the Crusader Pazzino Pazzi to Florence ca. 1100. A new rite was created around this relic, called Lo Scoppio del Carro, which took place every Great Saturday in the square of S. Maria del Fiore. A petard in the form of the dove of the Holy Ghost, shot  from the High Altar, kindled the carro made in the form of the edicula over the Holy Sepulchre. The petard itself was kindled by the 'holy fire,' ignited with pieces of stone from the Holy Sepulchre. The concept of the rite is quite clear: it had to create a spatial image of Florence as the New Jerusalem. This project will consider this rite in the context of certain urban performances and architectural practices related to the Miracle of the Holy Fire in Jerusalem.