he Collegiate Basilica of Martina Franca is a treasure chest of art. In a span of half a millennium in this ecclesia major collections of liturgical furnishings of the highest workmanship and history, documents were gathered, now displayed as a museum exhibition for the thousands of visitors who arrive every year in this small world of the Italian province.
The Stabile Palace, seat of MuBa, placed in the cultural insula of the Basilica, is in the heart of the monumental urban fabric of the historic centre of Martina Franca; in the maze of nchiostre, squares, alleys, arranged for a supportive community, to allow for immediate and close relations, enjoying the beauty of being together.
Displaying treasures for the liturgy (chalices, monstrances, reliquaries, copes, dalmatics, chasubles, collections of liturgical texts for prayer and Gregorian chant in parchment) means claiming, again, the feast of faith. It is to witness and transmit the encounter between the Gospel and art, between the preached message and the people who receive and translate the pregnancy of the’ mystery ‘of the Divine Presence among us into visible signs.
The exhibition of scrolls, papal bulls, notarial deeds, chapter house members conclusions, collections of “Acts of Taranto’s Archbishops’ holy pastoral visits”, brief apostolics (plenty of documentation is kept in the ” Archbishop Nicola Margiotta Library- Archive, adjacent to the Muba and just as much was dispersed for not always positive historical events) is to narrate about an extraordinary community.
The Muba is to be visited calmly, it demands silence to get immerged in the ecstasy raised by man’s genius and hands. The exhibition halls of the eighteenth-century Palazzo Stabile family allow you to hear voices and stories, either the artist-craftsmen’ones or the prayerful community of believers’. A museum is not a place for self-rewarding past glories, it is an insistent appeal for building roads of beauty again in a thin time. The guidance that the visitor has in his hands is a flexible and essential tool to find the direction through centuries of art, without getting lost.
The Muba does not contain all the heritage of the Basilica: there will be, in fact, a display rotation and further descriptions of topics and paths. Visitors will be intrigued and asked to try again, to read up more deeply towards broader horizons: in the southern silversmiths’ workshops and liturgical ateliers of monasteries and convents; inspecting in the clients’ interests.
Tourists and visitors of the splendour of Apulia often wonder: “Will people be able to save such beauty?” Martina Franca and its Basilica are betting on this task, which is civilization. Therefore, thanks go to all designers, engineers, restorers, craftsmen, who have made the realization of Muba possible.
Welcome and enjoy your visit! With a purpose: to tell about this community and this fabulous piece of land! Thank you!
Franco Semeraro – Parish Priest of the Basilica