Stucco reliefs

Adorn­ing the low­er dome shell of the dome above each of these side altars, we find four large reliefs (1721) by E. Q. Asam Exe­cut­ed in ele­gant gild­ed stuc­co on a green bro­cade back­ground, they depict the archangels Raphael, Michael, Uriel, and Gabriel, their head­gear indi­cat­ing the four then known parts of the earth which they pro­tect­ed. Between these fig­ures, gild­ed stuc­co reliefs by the same mas­ter con­nect the real space of the nave (both for­mal­ly and the­mat­i­cal­ly) with the illu­sion­ary heav­en­ly space of the dome fres­coes above. Above the sanc­tu­ary arch, in the “Death of St. Bene­dict”, the saint, still on his feet, expires in the arms of his brethren. This is jux­ta­posed with the “Death of St. Scholas­ti­ca”, Benedict’s sis­ter, on the west­ern side. Her soul is depict­ed as ascend­ing to heav­en in the shape of a dove. The two reliefs on the long sides depict scenes from Benedict’s life: to the south, the con­struc­tion of the order’s moth­er house at Monte Cassi­no in 529 (com­plet­ed in spite of the devil’s inter­ven­tion); to the north, the prophe­cy of the immi­nent death of the Ostro­goth King Toti­la. These eight reliefs are sep­a­rat­ed by flat bands dec­o­rat­ed with the so-called “St. Bene­dict Medal­lion”, which con­tin­ue the upward line of the mighty pilasters around the nave. The four high flat­tened arch­es are crowned by typ­i­cal Asam fig­ures of the evan­ge­lists, John, Matthew, Mark, and Luke, with the last-named, the patron saint of artists, placed imme­di­ate­ly below the above-men­tioned stuc­co bust  of C. D. Asam.