It is simply massive. I am speaking of “il Duomo” in Florence Italy. Standing next to it, you just feel the immensity of it. This magnificent cathedral that sits in the heart of Florence overwhelms, intimidates, and feels you with awe. All around it, it is covered in gigantic slabs of pink, green, and white shining marble. Again and again I asked the question, “How did they do that?” (I think I asked that a hundred times during my trip to Italy.)
In the late 13th century the good people of Florence decided it was time to build a new cathedral. The old one was crumbling and in bad need of repair. Arnolfo di Cambio won the honors of designing a new building, and groundbreaking was on September 9, 1296. (Di Cambio was also the architect of the beautiful Church of Santa Croce where Giotto and Michelangelo were later buried!) After di Cambio died, the amazing early-Renaissance painter Giotto carried on the work to finish the job. Giotto died in 1337, and so Andrea Pisano continued until the Bubonic Plague of 1348 hit and almost wiped out all of Europe. They continued with a series of architects until finally the nave (main part of the church) was completed in 1418. The only thing left was a massive dome to top it off. That required a whole new architect and massive amounts of material and money.
They were going to do it, because building something beautiful and impressive and “impossible” for God was that important to them. It did not matter that they might never live to see the end result. What was important to them was that God was worthy of their best. He was worthy of every last drop of blood, and every last penny. And they would give it.
Stay tuned for how they built their amazing dome that even today makes people stop and stare in silent wonder.