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Reformed Carmelites' patronage in Italian and European seventeenth-century architecture: urban and desert sanctuary typologies.

Reform and Contemplative Revival in the Carmelite Order

The Carmelite Order originally was formed at the end of the twelfth century by Latin hermits who gathered in caves and hermitages at Mount Carmel, near sites considered to be memorials to the hermit-prophet Elijah. The Carmelites stressed his myth to the point of declaring him pseudo-founder of the order. The original, radical anchoretic practice was gradually lost with the westernization of the movement, its absorption into the mendicant tradition and the relaxation of the rule due to the insertion of the order in urban Europe (Sturm, L'architettura dei Carmelitani 11-21). Between 1562 and 1582, the "discalced" direction of the order took form, thanks to Teresa of Avila and John of the Cross, who wished to return to the authentic faith. These mystics showed a "way to perfection" synthesizing a number of reformist tendencies within the Carmelite tradition, such as severe ascetisim, solitary prayer, and greatly reduced activities in common, while still permitting pragmatic and missionary intentions (Sturm, L'architettura dei Carmelitani 21-40, 46-52).

This new Order of the Discalced Carmelites spread rapidly during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, following the currents of religious ferment in Europe, the Spanish and Portuguese routes towards colonial America, and the missionary roads to the Near and Far East. In 1633, the Emir of Acre restored their right of access to Mount Carmel, a crucial turning point which allowed them to define their identity geographically and establish proper rites. (1) The right of access allowed the order to renew its experience of its origins by emulating the life of Elijah at the original site. The construction of a minimalist cave monastery "nelle viscere del monte" ["in the bowels of the mountain"], by Father Prospero of the Holy Spirit, followed the archetypal Old Testament grotto of the prophet, (2) but also aimed at heavenly aspirations, as the friar himself revealed in his last letter from Mount Carmel of July 19, 1653: "This cave has once again become a Paradise, as my companions are holy angels and greatly enjoy living in observance" (Fig. 1). (3)

What were the architectural implications of this new anchoretic return to the practice of oratione mentale, and the understanding of the convent cell as the recreated grotto of Elijah? An intense reflection on the topic of "mental prayer" developed in Italy after the Council of Trent. It led to the definition of specific subjects in meditation according to week days and to the production of a wide range of pedagogical works on mystic introspection. The Carmelite experience offered a relevant contribution to this process: when the Cornaro Chapel in St. Maria della Vittoria was completed in 1652, the handbook of prayer Compendio dell'oratione mentale was published in Italian, and it attributed the authorative name of "Gran maestra d'oratione" to Teresa d'Avila (Treffers 35). In Italy and other European countries, the attention to prayer and contemplation spurred the creation of new typological spaces for solitude that carried a particular importance for the Discalced Carmelites (Witte 57-88; Macca, Carmelitani 485-6; Macca, Carmelitani Scalzi 548). Such new spaces included choirs, higher cloistered choirs, ringratiatorii (small places of prayer, usually located near the lower choir and connected with the presbytery; these were a sort of spatial extensions of the church, but included in the cloister, and therefore had restricted access), and the lowercase meditation cells, so called "paradisetti" (often less than one square meter in size, connected with the "chiesa esteriore" through grated windows).


The rigorist aspects of the order's rule in its strict monastic discipline resulted in rigid forms of architecture, following the essential postulates of poverty, sobriety, and humility. There was a search for archaic formalism, spatial clarity, and decorative simplicity that would ultimately lead to new typological and structural paradigms. The resulting architecture is sometimes referred to as semi-spontaneous construction, self-formed, without recognizable protagonists, similar to other cases of monastic "architecture without architects." (4) This analysis might be correct for the first improvised institutions established by Teresa of Avila, but the further construction of the European and Latin American foundations and the replication of these first models soon followed precise typological, functional, and dimensional rules, rigorously spelled out and enforced through periodic norms issued by the order's central institutions. (5) Constitutions enacted in Spain in the year 1567, (6) and then in 1581, 1590, and 1604, (7) were followed by Italian adjustments in the year 1599, 1605, 1608, (8) 1611, and 1631. (9) The Italian branch of the order, named after Saint Elijah, had jurisdiction on Europe and non-American missionary communities. In particular, in the Italian constitutions, the chapter titled De nostrarum aedificio ac paupertate, (10) together with the special decree by the General Chapter of 1614, Ordinatio circafabricas, (11) detailed building, typological, and dimensional aspects of new convent organization (De Mari 361; De Negri 642-3). They distinguished possible variations on the model according to gender, function, and size of the town of settlement. The rules concerning spaces and functions were so finicky as to appear obsessive and seemingly locking the "convent machine" into a sort of homogeneous modular pattern, in spite of different contexts. The main rules provided that the convent have two internal courtyards, the larger one for friars' meditation, and the smaller one for their interaction with the outside world. The convent had to include sequences of liturgical and collective spaces at the ground floor, lines of cells at upper levels, and autonomous spaces for ceremonies within the cloister, such as "night choirs," oratories, and devotional processions. In addition, they indicate precisely which building materials and decorations would meet the general criteria of poverty and sobriety. Even technical specifications were provided to ensure proper illumination, ventilation, and protection from humidity. There are evident similarities with previous prescriptive manuals, such as the famous Instructiones fabricae et supellectilis ecclesiasticae by the Cardinal of Milan, Carlo Borromeo (1577), (12) but also with the autarchic-style method developed by the Jesuits, their "modo nostro." (13) But the original character of the serial architecture by Discalced Carmelites should also be emphasized: the serial architecture developed according to type and dimension codes derived directly from the Hispanic roots of the constitutional rules. This is confirmed by the fact that in the first Italian constitution, the Spanish unit of measure (the "Spanish span") is used instead of Italian ones.

What were the characteristics of Discalced Carmelite architecture, and in what way did these express the distinctive aspects of the friars' specific identity? The fundamental Teresian concepts of community and architecture offered principles of broad validity, and can be understood as a spiritual reflection of the contemporary recovery of classical Vitruvian principles. Indeed, between 1569 and 1582, there was a resurgence of Vitruvius' works, which by that time were available in Spanish. (14) The Carmelite and Vitruvian principles showed a superposition of values, in solidity and firmitas, poverty and venustas, humility and utilitas, sobriety and concinnitas (Sturm, Il piu povero, il piu religioso, il piu sano 81). (15)


The concept of the ideal Carmelite church was initially very simple. It was derived from medieval mendicant traditions and from the formal simplification of the so-called estilo desornamentado, promoted under the reynado of Philip II, particularly by the royal architect, Juan de Herrera, who guided construction of the monastery in the Escorial during the very height of the Teresian reform. (16) He was supported and lastly replaced by his apprentice Francisco de Mora, protagonist after 1608 of the reconstruction of the monastery of St. Jose at Avila, which was thereafter considered a paradigmatic model of a sober and austere style, congenial to the order's pauperistic ideals. Following this model, the ideal Carmelite Church had a single nave, bare of lateral chapels or niches, with a rectilinear terminus to the presbytery and transept with very short arms; pilasters rather than columns (with the pilasters in Tuscan order, preferred for their character of simplicity and strength); a barrel-vaulted roof with blind dome over the transept crossing; and a facade in block-like geometric forms with a triangular tympanum at the top. The overarching intent was to achieve severe simplicity, betrayed only by the sculptural niches and the arms of the monastic order in relief in the sopraporta (Felix Mateo; Munoz Jimenez, La arquitectura Carmelitana 28-30; De Negri 629; Sturm, L'architettura dei Carmelitani 79-83, 114-19, 121-133) (Fig. 2). However, the apparently modest architecture of the reformed order in reality hid a very deliberate program of "structural asceticism," which in turn reflected the abstraction, solitude and introspection of the archetypal hermetic-contemplative ideal. (17)


"Invention" of the Desert Sanctuary

One of the fundamental developments in Carmelite architecture was the innovation of the "desert sanctuary." This structure was not strictly residential, rather it was designed as the locale for complete and strict ascetic practice by a maximum of thirteen individuals (later increased to twenty) of a single religious province, under a rule prescribing roughly eighthours per day of prayer and meditation, sometimes in preparation for missionary campaigns, for a period of one to three years. (18)


This model was developed in Spanish-language regions around 1600, as a new synthesis of rigorously solitary anchorite life with the collective experience of the cenobite tradition, it evolved from medieval experience, permitting the gathering and integration of multiple hermetic units within a single monastic complex, and providing spaces and movement appropriate to rigorously hierarchical practice (Zimmermann 18-20; Recchia 52; Patetta 212 n. 3). The model plan provided for a central monastic house located at the center of a number of individual hermitages, set in an independent natural microcosm, separated from the secular world by surrounding walls (Fig. 3).

The hermitages originally featured only simple cave-like shelters but later evolved into a rationally structured system for self-sufficient life, with cells, chapels, fenced gardens, areas to perform essential services, and places where the friars could withdraw for periods of absolute isolation; yet, the hermits were still expected to follow compulsory communal rhythms of waking, prayer, and-routine marked by the ringing of central and peripheral belfries (Sturm, L'Eremo di Montevirginio 77-8ffj (Fig. 4). Entrance into this strict cloistered life was forbidden to women, to secular Carmelites, and also to the youth, novices, ill, melancholy or lazy," thus to all those unable to tolerate rigid discipline, whether for physical or psychological reasons. (19) Perpetual silence could only be broken in private meeting with the prior, during Sunday chapter, or at collationes spirituales. Such spiritual meals" generally took place in open-fronted chapels, which could be linked to similar buildings developed in Central American mission areas, such as the capilla abierta (McAndrew; Bonet Correa, Antecedentes espanoles), which were in turn centered on a spring that emulated the mythical Fountain of Elijah (Fig. 5). The Rule prohibited outside communication, scholarly study, refined food and manual trades. The hermitage was an independent microcosm entrusted to a group of trained brothers, with an almost autarchic economy based on large areas of cultivation and sometimes on quarrying and kiln industries. The surrounding walls separated it from the secular world, and any communication was filtered through a porter's lodge, complete with the porter's cell, guest quarters, and an external chapel for pilgrims or travelers (Munoz Jimenez, La arquitectura Carmelitana 345-6).



The typology of hermitages matured through the theoretical and written works of specific friars of the Order, who also often served as the planners and builders for the roughly twenty examples built well into the eighteenth century in New Spain and Europe. The prototype was established in 1599, by Fray Tomas de Jestis (1564-1627), at San Jose del Monte de Las Batuecas, near Salamanca. The overall complex, nestled in an isolated and spectacular natural setting, had an irregular plan developed around a central church (Spinelli; Sturm, L'Eremo di Montevirginio 6-7, 14-17) (Fig. 6). The plan originated from numerous inspirations: the centrally oriented structures of fortified Slavic orthodox Lavre; the Benedictine Camaldolese models that had been introduced to Spain just a few years earlier, around 1597; and more directly the articulated design of the Carthusian charterhouse, with the substantial difference that the Carthusian model was intended for the permanent residence of the friars (Ottonello; de Pablo Maroto), while the Carmelite desert sanctuary was intended as a temporary retreat of a changeable community, where friars could isolate themselves for a maximum of three years. (20) Fray Tomas next established two more desert sanctuaries in Belgiu and in 1626 formulated a theoretical model, published at Louvain in a manual on hermetism titled Instructio spiritualis (Zimmerman; Patetta 210-11; Sturm, L'Eremo di Montevirginio 9-13). The definitive canonical model for the Carmelite hermitage was described by the Mexican friar Andres de San Miguel in his Tratado de arquitectura. (21) (Baez Macias; Sturm, L'Eremo di Montevirginio 10-11; Sturm, L'architettura dei Carmelitani 86-108). Fray Andres had defined the typology as early as 1605, with the construction of the Convento del Desierto at Los Leones in Mexico: an articulated central liturgical complex, connected by a low-ceilinged walkway to an enclosed perimeter corridor around a central courtyard, with twenty-seven cells along the sides and four more at the courtyard corners, emphasizing the quincunx scheme, as well as a common area to one side centered on a small classically styled cloister (Fig. 7). This model combines tendencies of formal abstraction, purity of volumes, and the symbolist considerations of the architect, who was himself both a practicing Carmelite dissertationist and a master carpenter. (22)

The European desert sanctuaries of the 1600s took wild and barren locations and transformed them into delightfully furnished gardens for symbolic and spectacular purposes. Examples are Saint Elijah at Czerna, Poland (1631-4), situated in a deep valley, with a large double church in a quadripartite cloister; St. Anna at Mannersdorf, Austria (initiated 1644), with an overall landscape plan of crossing branched axes with a perimeter of spire-roofed "decentralized" hermitages (Fig. 8); Garde-Chatel in Normandy (1660), with a network of paths connecting scattered hermitages; San Juan de la Cruz in the Busaco Wood, near Coimbra, Spain (1627-94), with a grandiose life-size reproduction of the original Via Dolorosa, including twenty monumental stations along a four kilometer route (Pilate's praetorium, the house of Caiaphas, the Holy Sepulcher, etc.); St. Agatha on the Two Gulfs (1679), at a location naturally suited to ascetic practices on the Sorrento peninsula.


Montevirginio : Allegories of Jerusalem and Proto-Christian



Monteviriginio, one of the four desert sanctuaries in Italy, is situated at the height of the volcanic slopes over Lake Bracciano, about fifty kilometers north of Rome. It and the sanctuary at Varazze in western Liguria are the only ones that retain their original form and, therefore, furnish good insight into the typology of Discalced Carmelite architecture. The first known proposal for the sanctuary dates to 1649 (Fig. 9). It was to be built on the remains of an earlier failed hermitage of the Servites, dating to around 1615-23, which had operated under the patronage of the Grand Duchy of Tuscany and was subsequently donated to the Carmelite Order by the Orsini family in 1628. The intended form was a great rectangle bounded by thirteen cells, divided by a structural spine creating two courtyards: a larger one for the cloister and a secondary one for interaction with the outside world, thus following the pattern established in urban monasteries. The physical and symbolic fulcrum of the complex was the church, a modest and sober hall, articulated as part of a complex right-angled system of auxiliary and circulation spaces. The church concluded with a deep choir and had two lateral chapels with lavamani and confessionals, flanked by an oratory and sacristy. Leading from the aforementioned church, choir, chapels, etc., covered corridors provided a direct connection with the corridor around the larger of the two courtyards. This original plan was similar to that of the Sanctuary of St. John the Baptist, at Varazze, which was initiated in 1616 by Spanish planners. There, the plan provides twenty-two cells along two sides of a broad courtyard, centered on a dense liturgical nucleus with secular orator, sancta sanctorum, church, fore-church connected to the cells, and sacristy and chapter hall to the sides (Fig. 10). (23)




As at Varazze, the plan for Montevirginio was reduced in dimension during the actual construction. The main structure was completed by 1668, under the guidance of Father Giovanni Angelo di San Timoteo, an architect-friar who had previously worked in Rome with Francesco Contini, one of Borromini's most faithful assistants. The structure shows knowledgeable use of local stone and a thick ventilated cavity wall as foundation, in 1654, the Order received a further donation of land, which permitted the construction of the monastery in a steeper position, reversing the overall orientation and displacing the church to the head of the rectangle. The overall plan was then completed by two separate rows of six cells, for semi-cenobitic observance, with the front of the building reserved for collective activity (Fig. 11). The new liturgical block, with branching auxiliary spaces (the chapter-oratory to the left; sacristy, two chapels and lavamani to the right) became the juncture of the internal circulationpattern and the larger geographic context, expressed by the unadorned facade framed by two flanking bell-towers in trachyte stone. The facade is intersected by the main circulation route of the sanctuary, beginning from the porter's lodge and proceeding to a number of architectural and natural elements aligned along the Vtale della contemplazione. The central route is a steep and highly symbolic path, arriving at a final "re-creation" of the original Mount Calvary (Fig. 12 Scenographia). Diagonal paths lead to hermitages and fountains. These diagonals resolve the problem of the pronounced slope and bestow a type of liturgical consecration on the terrain, further authenticated by a sanctifying scheme of symbolic chrismon. (24) This patterning also refers to the origins of Christianity and the ceremonial consecration gestures for churches and altars. (25) Such symbolic cruciform matrices are also seen, along with geographic references and an accent on the "purifying waters," in idealized depictions of sanctuaries, with a hermitage on a peak and four chapels at the corners of a perimeter wall. This scheme was often adopted for desert sanctuaries in Spanish territories, as in the prototype designed by the Mexican Andres de san Miguel, and at S. Jose de la Isla, near Bilbao, designed by Fray Marcos de Santa Teresa, with altar shrines on the diagonals of the cloister (Sturm, L'Eremo di Montevirginio 9-11, 121-31; Sturm, L'architettura dei Carmelitani 86-108). The model seems to evoke similar patterns in missionary settlements of Nueva Espaha (as for instance those of the monastic courtyards of Jesuit reducciones) (26) which were surely known to the Carmelite theorists of the Desert Sanctuary. This is documented by the close relationships the Spanish colonial conquerors in Central America had with the Carmelite technicians, such as Friar Andres de san Mignel, who often engaged in important civil and religious construction in the Mexican colony.



The consecration of the landscape under the signum of the Christological monogram is rendered more explicit if we consider the sacral meanings superimposed on this particular site. In the classical Etruscan-Roman period, the site was known as Mons Saxanus and served as a seat of female cults. It was reconsecrated to Marian veneration, culminating in the dedication of the hermitage itself to the "Presentation of Maria in the Temple" and the evolution of the place name to "Monte Virginio," with double symbolism referring to the founding prince, Virginio Orsini, and to the Virgin, seen here as the Mons Virginis (Gasperini, Iscrizioni latine rupestri; Gasperini, Archeologia e storia 210-17; Sturm, L'Eremo di Montevirginio 53-5).

Furthermore, the symbolic ends of the conversion of Montevirginio into a hermitage site should be underlined: the arid "Saxanus" (or stony) hilltop was transformed into a delightful and contemplative Silva Sacra, paradoxically transformed from physical-natural deserto to sanctified Deserto and configured as a garden of meditation, with its references to paradise and Jerusalem. The final and crowning events in the transformation were the renaming of the place as "Monte Calvario," with the construction of a scenic hermitage on its peak, for the Jubilee of 1675 (Sturm, L'Eremo di Montevirginio 82 forward) (Fig. 13).

The Hermitage of Monte Calvario

The hermitage at the summit responded to the need for alignment in the overall perspective. It was reached by a steep climb, partially built in the form of steps as a sort of Scala sancta, offering a symbolic and realistic imitatio Christi in his climb to Calvary (Sturm, L'Eremo di Montevirginio 169-183). A small two-story lodge with diagonally-divided square plan, creating a quadripartite scheme, offered lodgings for the hermit keeper and a sequential system of six chapels. The structure offered an articulated system of both ascension and devotion for the celebration of the Via Crucis, with chapels and stations at a series of levels, culminating in a meditational platform inserted in the roof apex (Fig. 14). (27) The clear proportions, the combination of pure geometric forms, the masterly application of space, and the eloquent formal references all indicate that this structure is inspired by a specific project by Borromini, possibly the work of one of his collaborators such as Francesco Contini, or his son Giovan Battista Contini. In fact, in 1641, Borromini had planned a similar hermitage as a retreat for Cardinal Antonio Barberini the Elder at Monte Mario in Rome (Curcio, Un'opera perduta di Borromini; Curcio, Disegni di Virgilio Spada; Sturm, L'Eremo di Montevirginio 104-11) (Fig. 15). The Monte Mario hermitage was probably a joint exercise with Virgilio Spada, from whom several sketches survive, possibly based on a model suggested by the celebrated but lost forms of the Oratory of the Santa Croce in Laterano. (28) It would be executed only by 1751, more than a half century after the Carmelite copy.



Liturgical considerations, and the potential for income from plenary indulgences for those completing the entire route, would lead to reconsiderations of the ascending circular devotional design of Montevirginio, even before the end of the century. The quite unusual proposal of a star-shaped plan, found in UCLA's Orsini Papers, inspired by the rare model of the pentagonal church, would have served the needs for circularity in the route but must inevitably have been heretical given the rules of the Order (Fig. 16). (29) These strictly excluded any use of a curvilinear plan, with the summary command: "cappella in testudinem non assurgent". A more acceptable but never fulfilled proposal, advanced towards the end of the century, was for a reorganization of the structure with transfer of the hermit's cell to the courtyard edge, in place of the hexagonal chapels, (30) permitting the use of the entire central lodge for liturgical purposes, with an increase from six to nine chapels dedicated to; 1. Orazione nell'Orto, 2. Cattura di Cristo, 3. Flagellazione, 4. Incoronatione di spine, 5. Ecce Homo, 6. Portar della Croce, 7. Crocifissione, 8. Come il corpo di Cristo morto e portato alla sepoltura, 9. S. Sepolcro, which resulted in a fuller sequence of the Via Crucis (Sturm, L'Eremo di Montevirginio 84-9) (Fig. 17). (31) The climb to this setting of the Via Dolorosa would have gained still greater realism thanks to the addition, along the path, of a resting place in the form of a rotunda adorned with the crosses of Golgotha. Indeed, the Carmelites' desire for such allegorical references to the "Theatre of the Passion," fit with their attempts to recreate symbolically the archetypal sites of Jerusalem. However, the design of the Carmelite spiritual parcours differed markedly from those of the Sacri Monti, whose realistic scenography catered to mass pilgrimage. The Carmelite contemplative desert sanctuary typology, with its exclusively private use, served as an allegorical evocation of, instead of a lifelike transposition of the true, but distant holy sites. (32) These two devotional types emblematically express how the Counter Reformation evolution of ascesis, based on the mystic spirituality of Teresa d'Avila and John of the Cross, progressively lost its physical aspects and became totally interior. A reduction of realistic values in the design of places for the contemplation of the divine mysteries was the result (Lange and Pacciarotti 45-7).



Basically, in Carmelite installations, the entire landscape was designed to be an was allegorical, intrinsic "karmel" understood in the anchoritic revival of the order according to its literal meaning in Latin as an "orchard" or "vineyard, garden of God" (Magnani 414). The Carmelite monastery, and even more so the desert sanctuary; with its gardens, fountains, waterways, and the more or less naturalized paths, is understood as a "garden of delights," in keeping with the Latin version of Jeremiah that inspired John of the Cross in conceiving his mystical Subida [ascent] al monte Carmelo: Introduxi vos in terrain Carmeli ut comederetis fructum eius et bona illius" (Jeremiah 50:19). Architecture, therefore, functioned as metaphor for the prophesied "terram Carmeli," the physical and transcendent destination of the contemplative ascent, which the followers of Teresa of Jesus and John of the Cross considered as the true "way to perfection" for the men and women of the baroque era (Giordano and Salvatico; Fornara; Sturm, L'architettura dei Carmelitani 67-8; Sturm, Il piu povero, il piu religioso, il piu sano 83-4; Sturm, Liturgia e architettura 94).


The key concepts of Reformed Carmelite architecture, regulated between the end of the sixteenth century and the end of the seventeenth, demonstrate multiple and complementary aims. The search for a new architectonic language reflected the spiritual and contemplative demands of the Order; in this framework, the choices for decorative poverty, formal simplification, and dimensional standards are not coincidental, but rather incorporate the heritage of medieval mendicant orders such as the Franciscans, the Dominicans, and the Carmelites of the Ancient Observance. Moreover, the rise of methodological planning as a result of internal models is comparable to similar processes occurring within other religious congregations. The production of standardized and serial architecture is especially indebted to the Jesuit "modo nostro," adapting recurring patterns to different environments. The Discalced Carmelite settlements play a fundamental role in the definition of those "machines" of ascesis, isolation, and contemplation, often symbolizing archetypal places of the biblical tradition and timeless models of sacred architecture. The "function" and the "symbol" are, therefore, a fundamental and original mix in the formulation of the "self-representative" architectonic project of the Reformed Carmelites.

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(1.) A copy of the document signed by the local emir is held in the General Archives of the Order of Discalced Carmelites in Rome (AGOCD), shelf 253/g, folio 14, published in Sturm, L'architettura dei Carmelitani, 49. On this subject cf. also Zubizarreta 274-6.

(2.) Drawings by Father Prospero depicting Mount Carreei and the small monastery created in the restricted space of the Grotto of St. Elijah are held in the AGOCD, shelf 253/h, section 4. A copy of the Salus populi romani, donated by Cardinal Francesco Barberini, was placed on display in the adjacent Grotto of the Madonna (Macca "Carmelitani Scalzi," 586). For Prospero of the Holy Spirit (1583-1653), note Zubizarreta.

(3.) "Ha retornato questa grotta a esser un Paradiso, perche li miei Compagni sono santi Angeli e gustan grandemente di viver con osservantia" (Zubizarreta 886-7). See also Johnson 194-5; 198-9. The captions in the illustration can be transcribed as follows: "Vista esterna del monastero nel Santo Monte Carmelo, costruito nel 1632 e che dopo 1634 fu rimpiazzato da un altro costruito nella sommita del monte ove e la grotta di S. Elia / Pianta del medesimo nelle viscere dei monte. 1. Chiesa. 2. Sacristia. 3. Libraria e cella. 4. Refettorio. 5. Corridoretto. 6. Cellette. 7. Stanza che serve per infermeria, et hospitaria. Cucina. 9. Dispensa. 10. Stanza per il garzone. 11. Giardino dei Convento."

(4.) The phrase was coined by Antonio Bonet Correa, defining the experiences of Franciscan "architect brothers" in Colombia (Bonet Correa, Tratados de Arquitectura 121-36), also repeated in Mufioz Jimenez, La arquitectura Carmelitana, 36-7. For a synthesis on the theme, see Sturm, L'architettura dei Carmditani, 85-6.

(5.) It was in particular the Definitor General, with his hierarchical powers in the various provinces of the Order, who exercised a rigorous censorial role over proposed projects, carrying out activities of intense monitoring for conformity to the constitutional rule, involving correction and often rejection of proposals presented. This process is documented by rich collections of drawings, both approved and rejected, in the general and provincial archives of the Order.

(6.) Here some concepts expressed by the founder find a better coded expression: "La casa jamas se labre, si no fuere la iglesia, ni haya cosa curiosa, sino tosca la madera: y sea la casa pequena y las piezas bajas: cosa que cumpla a la necesidad, y no superflua. Fuerte lo mas que pudieren, y la cerca alta, y campo para hacer ermitas, para que se puedan apartar a oracion, conforme a lo que hacian nuestros Padres santos" (Pobreza edificio: Emitas, section 120-I, published in Rodriguez 53).

(7.) The Costituzioni by Pastrana (1604) (Constitutiones Fratrum Discalceatorum Ordinis B. Mariae de Monte Camelo Congregationis Hispaniarum, authoritate Apostolica Sanctissimi D. N. Clementis Papae Octavi auctae et recognitae ...), published in Ucles (1623) and titled Regla primitiva y Constituciones de los Religiosos Descalzos de la Orden de N.a S.a dei Carmen dei Monte Carmelo de la Congregacion de Espana, became the fundamental version of the Spanish Constitutions.

(8.) Costitutiones Capituli 1608 cum originale approbatione, ms. in AGOCD, shelf 1/e.

(9.) Constitutiones Fratrum Discalceatorum Congregationis S. Eliae, Ordinis Beatissime Virginis Mariae de Monte Camelo 1631.

(10.) Primae Constitutiones Congregationis Sancti Eliae O.C.D. anno 1599. Rome 1973. 78-81, section III, ch. II.

(11.) Ordinatio circa fabricas facta de Commissione Capituli Generalis celebrati Roma die 15 aprilis 1614 (ms. kept in the Archive of the Convent of St. Anna in Genoa, Arc. Gen. n. 205), approved by the Definitorio Generale on 1 May 1614 with the name Ordinatio de Constructione Ecclesiarum et Conventuum (original in AGOCD, Actis Def. Gen. Vol. I, ff. 28v-29r) published by Fortes 674-5.

(12.) See Benedetti, Praticita e normativita razionale nel Trattato di Cario Borromeo 105-31; Buzzi, Zardin 1997; Crippa; Senecal; Schofield, Architecture and the assertion of the cult; Schofield, Tu es diaboli ianua; Alexander 236-63; Hecht.

(13.) From the immense historiography related to the Jesuit architecture, the most important investigations on the Italian territory are Bosel; Bosel and Karner.

(14.) The first translation of Vitruvius in Spanish was completed in 1569, by Miguel de Urrea, but published posthumously in 1582 by Juan Gracian. In the same year, Francisco Lozano also published the first Spanish edition of Alberti's De re aedificatoria (Baez Macias 59). Direct references to the Vitruvian treatise are recalled in the work of the Carmelite architect Fray Andres de san Miguel.

(15.) The combination of Teresian architectural recommendations with Vitruvian-Albertian theory has been discussed in the research of Blasco Esquivias. Vitruvianism spreading in the late Spanish Renaissance is neither the exclusive nor the sufficient reason to motivate the features of Hispanic Carmelite architecture, after having been evoked in the Italian and European diffusion of the Order. Papers of several foundations in the seventeenth century show explicit references to formal abstractions and functional types of the Order itself, matured within the internal theoretical processing and construction practices.

(16.) On the theme of the rise of desornamentada in the era of Philip II and the dominant role di Juan de Herrera, I refer in particular to Marias 61-2; Cervera Vera 75-7; Sturm, L'architettura dei Carmelitani, 74-86.

(17.) In examination of this rigorous methodology of ethical-aesthetic purification, certain characteristics have been identified that seem to relate to proto-rational phenomena, assimilated into the "cubist sensibility and in the radical architectural principles of the historic twentieth century vanguard" (Bonet Correa, "Introduction," in Munoz Jimenez, La arquitectura Carmelitana, 10; cf. also Sturm, L'architettura dei Carmelitani, 94-95).

(18.) Concerning the genesis, functions and characteristics of the "desert sanctuary," I refer to my synthesis in Sturm, L'Eremo di Montevirginio, 14-17, 153-6.

(19.) Cf. Lodevoli costumanze dell'Eremo di fra' Adriano di S. Teresa [Laudable customs of the Hermitage of Brother Adriano of Santa Teresa], ms. 1787, in the Archives of the Monastery of Montevirginio, file 10, IV A 3, and related comment in Sturm, L'Eremo di Montevirginio, 156-8.

(20.) On the relationship between Carmelite and Camaldolese hermitages, cf. Mufioz Jimenez, La Arquitectura Carmelitana, 353-4.

(21.) The manuscript, Obras de fray Andres de San Miguel, lego de la Orden de Nuestra Senora del Carmen de la Provincia de Mexico (University of Texas at Austin, The Latin American Collection, Garcia ms. 73), gathers a series of elaborate manual-like works by this Spanish-Mexican friar, developed between 1636 and 1646 at the Salvatierra Monastery, including a specific text on architecture of Vitruvian inspiration, and 221 captioned figures with six plans of monasteries.

(22.) On the magisterial technical capacity of Fray Andres and his Mexican students and on the development of the arts of planning and executing "star" structures in wood, and related diffusion in Islamic Spain and the colonial Americas, I refer in particular to the detailed study in Nuere.

(23.) Cf. the original 1615 project for Varazze Hermitage, then modified during course of construction, in AGOCD, shelf 7/m "bis."

(24.) The Christological symbol was often used in decorative elements and floor plans for contemplative complexes. This use was inspired by an antiquarian passion among erudite circles, frequented by (among others) Francesco Borromini, the Oratorian Virgilio Spada, and Cardinal Virginio Orsini, who was linked to Montevirginio. An analogous case is the Park of the Thebaid, developed by Carlo Fontana for Flavio Chigi's villa at Cetinale, near Siena; this complex gives evidence of the importance attributed in the Baroque era to the ancestral models of hermits, as practiced in the Egyptian desert by the first Christian generations (Fagiolo and Giusti 180-3; Marcello Fagiolo, Bernini e la committenza Rospigliosi, in Roberto 7-31 [24-9]).

(25.) For the symbolism of these gestures, see Fagiolo 1975, 54 n. 78. In the consecration ceremony for the altar the priest twice outlines five crosses, first at the center of the surface and then at the four corners, first with water and then with chrism (de Champenaux and Sterckx 204-05).

(26.) See for example Vinuales et al., and the updated synthesis by Cacciavillani 77-122.

(27.) The terrace on the roof, with seating for meditative rest in the open air, is similar to round tower-top features in the Bologna area; an interesting example is the Monastery of San Girolamo at Ferrara, acquired and reconfigured by the Discalced Carmelites shortly after 1700, perhaps with the participation of Giuseppe Pozzo (Seraphino 210-11; Sturm, L'architettura dei Carmelitani 220-24; Karner; Hopkins).

(28.) The Oratory of the Cross, in the form ofa Greek cross closed at the diagonais by hexagoonal chapels and with a concave-convex roof (as hypothesized in Bellini 155-7), was a fitth-century structure, documented in drawings by Lafrery, Francesco di Giorgio, Antonio da Sangallo, prior to the demolition in 1585 (Curcio and Manieri Elia 256-8, 270). The memory of the structure must have stayed alive, seen in an archaeological reconstruction by Giovan Battista Contini (possibly involved in planning the Calvary Hermitage at Montevirginio), published by Rasponus in 1656.

(29.) "Disegno d'Eremitorio per Monte Virginio," in University of California, Los Angeles, Department of Special Collections, Charles E. Young Research Library, Plans of feuds and properties, Collection 902, box 16.

(30.) "Pianta dei Romitorio di M.te Calvario in stato mutato," in State Archives of Rome (ASR), Corporazioni religiose soppresse, Carmelitani Scalzi, S. Maria della Vittoria, file 524, n. 10.

(31.) "Oration in the garden / Capture of Christ / Flagellation / Crowning with thorns / Ecce homo / Carrying of the Cross / Crucifixion / How the body of Christ was brought to the tomb / Holy Sepulcher."

(32.) For the characteristics of the pastoral-propagandistic model of the Sacro Monte, see in particular Alessi; Stefani Perrone; Munoz Jimenez, Yermos y Sacromontes; Gensini; Vaccaro, Ricardi; Lange, Pacciarotti 38-48; Thurber 398-402; Sturm, L'architettura dei Carmelitani 66-7 n. 13.
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Author:Sturm, Saverio
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Date:Jun 22, 2012
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