The Hospital's sacred spaces and their stories
The Sacristy progressively began to lose its purpose due to the construction of a new and more practicale space suited to the new greater dimension of the church in the late Fifteenth century. At the same time a new chapel for the relics was converted from the Sacristy. Later, it became the base of one of the numerous confraternities that had been welcomed in the Hospital, the Confraternity of the "Sacred Nails".
Madonna of the Mantle
This is the famous fresco that Domenico di Bartolo painted in 1444 in the Chapel of the Mantle, the chaple that originally housed the relics bought by Santa Maria della Scala. In 1610, the artwork and the relics were moved into the Old Sacristy, where the fresco is still to be found today.
This internal chapel, built around 1680 on the site of an older caphel dedicated to Saints Joachin and Anne, was renovated at the will of Sister Elisabetta Biagini. The chapel leads to the church of the Santissima Annunziata and to the Old Sacristy and conserves a cycle dedicated to the Madonna depicted by Giuseppe Nicola Nasini and his son Apollonio. On the altar is a cuspidate panel by Paolo di Giovanni Fei showing the Madonna and child, dating from the early Fifteenth century.
The new church also involved the work of Francesco di Giorgio Martini which painted in the absidal area a Coronation of the Virgin. In the last decades of the Seventeenth century the high altar was rebuilt and two side altars added, decorated with canvases by Pietro Locatelli and Giovanni Morandi. In 1730, using the bequest of rector Antonio Ugolini Billò, it was decided that the church's great abse should be decorated by Sebastiano Conca. The painting portrays the Pool at Bethesda, where the sick hoped to be miraculously healed.
The Announcing Angel
Half way up the aisle there are on both sides stone niches with the figure of the Announcing Angel and the Virgin Annunciate. Their dates are still subject of analysis although well-founded hypotheses claim that the angel's head is Fourteenth century, its body was made in the Sixteenth and the Virgin in the Seventeenth.
Vecchietta's Risen Christ and the Altar
At the top of the altar we can see Vecchietta's Risen Christ, signed and dated in 1476. Stylistically, the critics relate this artwork to the Sienese works of Donatello. Vecchietta originally meant it for the Hospital's funeral chapel. The altar is also decorated with two bronze candelabra held by angelsa made by Accursio Baldi in the Sixteenth century, two adoring angels and a pair of marble candelabra-holding angels from the Mazzuoli workshop and a marble Deposed Christ on the facade, made by the sculptor Giuseppe Mazzuoli which worked in Rome with Bernini workshop for the Chigi family.
Santa Maria della Scala, servizio programmazione culturale musei
Redazione di Chiara Nencini
con la collaborazione di Michele Caliani, Olimpia Dell'Avanzato e Viola Pecchioli (progetto di alternanza scuola-lavoro, liceo Classico e Musicale "Enea Silvio Piccolomini" A.S. 2017-2018)