THE PANEL OF THE SUN
Unlike the usual style of Lombard art, the last panel of the pulpit is occupied by only a single central image, generally seen as the sun; as a Christian symbol, it is interpreted as Christ, the light of the world and the new sun that has replaced the pagan gods. I would like to suggest an additional interpretation here, which enriches that proposed so far: that it includes a large flower in its center, a rare Flower of Life figure with eight petals, a very ancient symbol which usually has six petals (in some cases, such as in San Bartolomeo at Badia di Cantignano near Capannori, once Lombard, they are found with five petals, and also at Gropina, on one face of a pilaster used to support the pulpit, together with spirals, and in the panel of the Fountain of Life right over the fountain). The Flower of Life is a geometric sacred symbol of rebirth, regeneration, hope. It is also linked to the cult of the sun and was studied and reproduced by Leonarddo da Vinci for its mathematical properties. The Flower of Life is drawn inside a radiating circle which certainly represents the sun, while the four spokes that protrude from the outside frame may symbolize the four rivers of Paradise, which are born from the Tree of life and run in the four cardinal directions, e which represent also the four Evangelists who depart from Christ. As we have seen in the chapter on The Spread of Christianity, the meaning of Christ as a new light in the world was added to the pagan interpretation of the sun as Sol Invictus; thus this panel of the pulpit summarizes the sense of salvation: Christ, the new sun, that contains life within itself (the river inside the radiating circle) and also Paradise (the four rivers) which every soul can reach through Him and his Evangelists.