The ancient Torah of Bolognaa
Tradition points to Saint Petronio as the inventor of the Saint Stephen’s basilica complex in Bologna. Petronio might have built a building similar to the Church of Jerusalem’s Holy Sepulchre in order to allow the people of Bologna to relive the Calvary suffering without leaving for the Holy Land.
The street close to Saint Stephen’s square –actually called Jerusalem’s street- reproduces the street through which Jesus entered the Holy City, riding an old donkey. Therefore, Bologna proves to have an intrinsic connection to Jerusalem.
Bologna’s Jewish community seems to have been one of the most vital before the arrival of the Papacy, who stole the city from the Bentivoglio lordship in the 15th century. Consequently, Jewish freedoms were progressively reduced until 1593 when their expulsion from all Papacy properties was declared. “Al Cappello Rosso” inn –actually till in existence- was the only place which permitted Jewish wanderers to stay when they came into town for deals.
Since 2013 Bologna has claimed a certain preeminence by having the oldest Torah manuscript in the world. The discovery happened almost by chance during an upgrade of the Jewish manuscripts catalogue in Bologna University. The text is likely to have been written between the second half of the 12th century and the first part of the 13Ith. Researchers are trying to understand why such a manuscript was present in town.