Despite the secular nature of its Court, Mantua was bustling not only with churches but also monasteries, which were gradually phased out from the 18th century onwards. Here is a brief overview of some of the exteriors of the city's churches, which display great richness of design and artistry and encompass a period from the Middle Ages to the Baroque. Furthermore, Mantua is renowned for being the city that is home to the first relic of Christianity: the blood of Christ, and the untouched body of its patron saint, St. Anselm of Lucca, the nephew of Pope Alexander III. It is evident, then, that spirituality is at one both with nature and the work of mankind.
The current façade dates back to the 18th century and is the work of the engineer Nicolò Baschiera, who completed it in 1761 and died in Milan in 1780. Much like the right-hand side, the front façade was the work of the Venetian Dalle Masegne brothers, who built it in the Gothic style that can be seen elsewhere in a painting by the Veronese Domenico Morone (1442-1518) depicting the seizing of power by the Gonzagas. On top of the tympanum, and on the left and right-hand sides, one can see a few statues of blessed figures and saints from the Mantuan tradition, including Luigi Gonzaga and Osanna Andreasi.
The mannerist style of the façade is reinforced by a large vestibule. The bright colour works in harmony with the exteriors of the Ducal Palace. Giulio Romano's style might seem to be softened or diluted, but by simplifying it the overall size of the building stands out. Originating from two open lanterns fixed onto the wall, there is ample light inside An artistic and musical masterpiece, the organ, built by Graziadio Antegnati, is also extremely striking. Finally, in addition to the elements that have been added for the relic, there are also some notable paintings by Lorenzo Costa the Younger, Ippolito Andreasi, as well as by local painter Giuseppe Bazzani (1690-1769).
The plan of the church is octagonal. The only original façade is the one looking out onto Corso Vittorio Emmanuele, while the side exterior was incorporated into the overall style in 1950. It should be recalled that a model of the church, which also features in a painting by Domenico Fetti, is today kept at the Ducal Palace. With this model, the architect provides Margherita Gonzaga a to-scale copy of his creation. After being widowed, Margherita decided to set up the adjoining monastery, where she later took up permanent residence.
Ideato e promosso da / Founded and Promoted by:
Mattia Palazzi (Sindaco del Comune di Mantova)
con Lorenza Baroncelli (Assessore alla rigenerazione urbana e del territorio, marketing urbano, progetti e relazioni internazionali del Comune di Mantova)
Coordinamento Scientifico / Scientific Coordinator:
Curatore testi e immagini / Superintendent texts and images:
Foto di / Photo by:
Gian Maria Pontiroli
Alessia Lodi Rizzini
Redazione / Editors:
Un ringraziamento speciale a / A special thanks to: