“The calculation of the volumes, the mathematics of the lights and the astronomical orientation makes the liturgical room a perfect time machine". In the guidebook entitled ‘The Templars and Sardinia’, the church of San Pietro del Crocefisso is a sort of ‘medieval clock’. It marked a time that seems to be standing still today: it stands secluded in an unreal stillness and silence, on top of a hill in the Anglona area. This is the northernmost of eight hills, located one after the other, on which an equal number of abbeys and churches of the Cassinesi monks stand (or stood), among which the famous basilica of Santa Maria di Tergu.
San Pietro de Su Rughifissu in Bulzi dominates an evocative setting on the border between the Sassari and Gallura areas. It too was part of a monastic complex, of which some ruins still remain. It was the Benedictines who completed its building, perhaps thanks to funding by the Templars’ international ‘bank’ and work carried out by French workers. Their signature can be seen on the façade: a Templar pattée cross. Initially built on top of an earlier building, in a sacred area that was already Byzantine, Early Christina and pagan (as shown by Roman artefacts), its construction as a temple was accomplished using three different building techniques. Its origin dates back to 1050. The ‘pure’ Romanesque-Pisan red trachyte structure, with a crux commissa and single nave, dates back to 1120. Gothic-style intervention took place at the beginning of the next century, with the addition of a transept and a new roof. The end of the work (1225) is indicated in an inscription mentioning Iohannes bishop of Ampurias, in office at the beginning of the 13th century: the church may have been the cathedral of the diocese. The name comes from the thirteenth-century wooden complex of the ‘Deposition of Christ from the Cross’, a unicum among Sardinian medieval statues, kept inside it before being transferred to the parish church of San Sebastiano, in the centre of Bulzi, where you can admire it today. There are only 15 wooden groups similar to this in the world. At one time, a seventeenth century retable of five paintings was kept here, giving rise to the church’s other name of: San Pietro ‘delle Immagini’ (of the Images).
In the walls of the façade, divided into three orders, there is a combination of ashlars made of dark volcanic rock and white limestone, giving them an unusual, shiny two-tone effect. ‘Light’ inserts were also made in the little arches, the apsidal conch and the interior of the transept. The portal has a lunette on top of it, where you will notice a relief with three roughly sculpted figures in contrast with the elegance of the façade: a character preying (perhaps St Benedict on his deathbed) and two bearded men (his disciples?). The church is a destination for pilgrimages during the Su Rughifissu celebration, at the end of June, during which S'ardia takes place – it is an equestrian joust around the church, monastery and village. Deep devotion is expressed during Holy Week.