The top floors of the House of the Blessed Osanna constitute a small museum, which conveys the devotion of our Blessed and displays the heritage that in the course of the years was gathered and that illustrates her virtues.
Blessed Osanna Andreasi's House (1475)Mantova Museo Urbano Diffuso
In these rooms, which are not very large, decorated with the preserved fragments of Renaissance frescoes, we see paintings, books, relics, personal objects once belonging to Osanna, letters and other documents. What makes these rooms particularly fascinating is the convergence of three important presences. Mantuan Renaissance, rich in references to Humanism and Mantegna. The figure and the works of our Blessed, a woman who was able to exert a strong influence on the governing house. Finally the symbols of faith, which, though displaying excellent artistic qualities, stay in our memory because they express a silent and ascending prayer. Thus the House is, in its entirety, one of the most spiritual places in Italy.
Blessed Osanna Andreasi's House, interior
Down here the face of the Blessed seems to be inviting us to enter the most intimate place of the House. In the meanwhile, the light coming from the nearby Via Frattini enters the rooms, illuminating the elegant furniture and the numerous objects that narrate centuries of sacred history.
This precious object is made of silver and embossed foil, kept in a case made of bark, decorated with swirls and vegetal motifs. The author is unknown, but the object must have been certainly made in Rome. It is in fact certain that it was bought in 1762 by the prior Francesco Maria Bronzini, and donated to Gian Battista Magnaguti in 1810.The reliquary contains a fragment of the garment of the Blessed Osanna. It is a gift of Alessandro Magnaguti.
Reliquary and case
This is the reliquary next to its case, on which it is possible to read some handwritten lines regarding transfers of property.
Blessed Osanna's plaster funeral mask
A (negative) mould of the face of the Blessed obtained using gypsum after her death, June 18, 1505, and used to make a funerary mask (positive), made with layers of painted cloth on wood. The restoration of this mask was arduous but the results were excellent, and have brought back the lively colours. Today this pair, the mould (in the forefront) and the mask (in the background) allows to take a look at the intense and pensive image of Osanna.
This rather large comb, about 10cm long and 13cm wide, is made of ivory and certainly dates to the years in which our Blessed lived. As you can see, the comb has teeth on both sides, smaller on the left and larger on the right. The elegant edges and the central decoration, which is almost identical on both sides, make this everyday object vary graceful.
This very beautiful and complex exemplar was formed over the centuries. The actual reliquary, in fact, is an Agnus Dei, a wax image representing Jesus supported by two angels triumphing over death. This part dates to 1575, the last year of the pontificate of Pius V, as indicated by the writing in Latin. The circular reliquary, on the back of which there is a representation of the Virgin and Child, is surmounted by the papal coat of arms of Pius V, that almost seems to disappear behind the rich floral decoration in silver, which is placed on a small wooden board protected by cloth. The creation, which probably dates to the 18th century, not only preserves the Agnus Dei of the 16th century, but also incorporates decorations dating to the 17th century. Agnus Dei was a type of sacred object believed to have specific positive effects on who made a devout use of it, such as safeguard against temptation, illness, the risks of childbirth, and climate hazards. It was, in other words, a powerful talisman against evil.
It is commonly believed that this wooden Cross, carved in poplar, belonged to the Blessed. It is an oral tradition related also by the donor, the count Alessandro Magnaguti, who stresses the connection between Osanna and the finely hewn object. We can admire the slender figure of Christ on the cross, his delicate features, his hair and beard made precious with a golden colouring. His limbs are slender, his waist is small, and he is covered by a square loincloth. Even though the author of this work is probably an artist from the Padana area, some dramatic aspects indicate the influence of the North.
The Cross, more than 80cm tall, is an object of personal devotion. Even a simple object, though with an artistic value, could be a powerful symbol of faith and a means for an ongoing dialogue with the mysterious ways of the Lord. The sense of piety sparked by the features of Christ on the cross embraces the whole of humanity and its precarious existence, in an age of wars, poverty and sickness.
Osanna Andreasi's apparel
This garment, that the tradition associates to the person of the Blessed Osanna, was a long dress, tight in the upper part and wide at the bottom. It is a white dress made of wool, in part lined with linen, with a tight bust and a high waist, while the bottom part is long and wide; the sleeves are sewn to the rest. It is not necessary to specify the sartorial details, it will be enough to say that the technique used allowed it to be close-fitting. The neckline is oval, quite accentuated, and it is deeper on the back. In fact, in the 15th century, when the dress was made, the back neckline was deeper than the front one. The garment could be defined as a gamurra, a dress made of woollen cloth worn by women in the coldest season. It was a dress generally used for work, so it lacks decorations. It is possible to see this type of dress in many paintings of the 15th century, such as the frescoes in Palazzo Schifanoia in Ferrara. The only unusual detail visible in this item is the colour white, indeed gamurre were generally made with dark cloth. The dress is quite complex and is finely cut. The workshop in which it was made was evidently skilled. On the whole the dress is sombre, as was the life of the Blessed Andreasi. A careful intervention has been carried out with the aim of preventing future deterioration.
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: Sebastiano Sali Curatore testi e immagini / Superintendent texts and images: Giovanni Pasetti Foto di / Photo by: Art Camera Redazione / Editor: Erica Beccalossi Assistente / Assistant: Annica Boselli