In Christianity, the Lion of Judah represents Christ, as in the Book of Revelation it says, "Weep not; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered…"
Fortunati pointed out how it is difficult not to make the connection between the lion statue and other lion symbols found in Narni, and Aslan from the Chronicles of Narnia.
Lewis himself confirmed the connection in a letter he wrote to a child reader in 1961. He said he was inspired to make the figure of Christ a lion in the stories for two reasons: because the lion is supposed to be the king of the beasts, and because Christ is called "the Lion of Judah" in the Bible.
Another link between the real and fictional towns can be found in the real-life Lucia of Narnia. In the Chronicles of Narnia, Lucy Pevensie is the youngest child of four siblings, and she is the one who first sees the fantastical land and believes.
Bl. Lucy Brocadelli of Narni was a mystic who lived from the end of the 15th to the mid-16th century and who was born in the city. She was known as a very pious child, and from a young age is said to have seen visions of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Child Jesus, and other saints, particularly St. Dominic.
Her first vision was at the age of 5, and at 12 years old she made a private vow of virginity, deciding to join the Dominicans. As a young teen she was married off by her uncle to a family friend, Pietro, the count of Milan, though they lived as brother and sister at her request.
She continued to experience visions throughout her life, and was particularly dedicated to the poor, including making them bread with the help of saints who visited her. By the age of 18 she had separated from her husband, then becoming a Dominican tertiary. Her husband eventually joined the Franciscans.
She became the prioress of a convent and is one of only a few female saints to have ever received the stigmata. Shunned and mistreated by other sisters for her strange experiences, she spent the last forty years of her life locked up in isolation by a successor prioress.
She died in 1544, and her body was discovered to be incorrupt a few years after that. She was beatified in 1710 by Clement XI. In 1935 her remains were returned to her home town of Narni and interred in the cathedral.
Today around 20,000 people live in Narni; if you visit you will find the town's Romanesque cathedral, a late-medieval fortress called the Rocca, the old town square, and a plaque marking the "Center of Italy," among other sites.
Also scattered around the city you'll find images of lions and of Bl. Lucia of Narnia, reminders of its connection to the mythical land of C.S. Lewis' imagination and his beloved stories.
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This article was first published Dec. 7, 2017.