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The "Maria del Sochorso" Altarpiece: a Cretan icon transformed in Counter-Reformation Italy.


The Italian Baroque Maria del Sochorso Altarpiece in the collection of James Madison University (Harrisonburg, Virginia) displays an unusual iconographic motif in the central image of the Madonna and Child (Figure 1). (1) While the visual dynamics between the Virgin and saints reflect Post-Tridentine Counter-Reformation narrative conventions, the Madonna and Child harks back to a Byzantine Virgin of the Passion icon type brought to Italy by the Cretan artist Andrea da Ritzos around 1450. Bearing the words "Maria del Sochorso" across its upper border, the painting embodies a heavenly vision of the Virgin Mary floating aloft, with ribbons of light radiating from her enormous lemon-yellow halo. Kneeling archangels carry the instruments of Christ's Passion, including a Latin cross, lance, and vinegar-soaked sponge. The Christ Child turns away from his mother and looks over his shoulder toward the archangel holding the cross, alluding to his future crucifixion. The Virgin Mary clasps his small hands in her hand in a protective gesture. Below, an older bearded saint in a black Benedictine or Augustinian habit with the initials "S.N." in his halo (on the left) gazes adoringly at the Virgin. A younger beardless saint wearing the white habit of a Cistercian, Camoldese or Olivetan monk, whose halo contains the initials "S. B," (on the right) gestures didactically back towards the Virgin and Child, engaging the viewer and encouraging devotion. In later sixteenth and seventeenth century Italy, the cult of this type of Virgin of the Passion, known as the "Beata Vergine Maria di Perpetuo Soccorso," was centered in the Hermit Augustinian church of San Matteo in Merulana, Rome. There, a miraculous Greek/Cretan icon (Figure 2), now preserved in San Alfonso dell' Esquilino, Rome, was received as a gift in 1499 and gave rise to a new Marian cult in Rome, despite strong competition from other, more venerable Marian icons in the city.

The James Madison Maria del Sochorso Altarpiece was recently restored, providing an opportunity to investigate its iconography and style. Although the painting's design and format depend on the Greek/Cretan icon in Rome, stylistic analysis points to an origin in mid-seventeenth century northern Italian painting, and physical evidence confirms its presence in Milan circa 1900. After the Augustinians of San Matteo in Merulana lost their convent in the Napoleonic invasion, the miraculous icon was given to the Redemptorist Order, which beginning in1866 produced and distributed globally as many as 6,566 replicas of this panel. (2) This late nineteenth and twentieth century process of "traditionalizing" the icon in new locales around the world endowed it with renewed authority and authenticity, a religious/sociological phenomenon that has been analyzed by Eriksen and Kelly. (3) However, the Madison altarpiece shows that even before the Redemptorists' intervention, the icon inspired artists to borrow the miraculous power of the older, "authentic" image. The adaptation and reuse of this particular icon in Counter-Reformation Italy has not been previously studied. (4)

The history of the Madonna del Soccorso iconographic type is complicated by its multi-faceted, fluid, regional character. The title and legend originated with the Hermit Augustinians in Palermo, Sicily in 1306 and was common in Southern Italy, Umbria and the Marche. (5)

The title is usually associated with a Latin "Maria del Soccorso" image in which the Virgin is depicted saving a child by beating the devil with a club, as seen in the Domenico di Zanobi's panel in the Velluti Chapel, Santo Spirito, Florence (Figure 3). In her study of this type, El-Hanany suggests that the Augustinians promoted this "unusually empowered" image between the 1480s and 1520s, because of their devotion to the Virgin and their doctrinal emphasis on the power of speech and faith in baptism. However, the type declined after the 1520s, she believes, due to the Council of Trent's limitations on the Virgin Mary's power, and the older Virgin of the Passion type returned under the "Madonna del Soccorso" title. (6) Other scholars, however, believe the Madonna del Soccorso with the child, the devil, and the club continued under Augustinian patronage in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, especially in Umbria and the Marche. (7) This study of the origins and iconography of the Madison Maria del Sochorso Altarpiece finds that the cult of the Madonna del Soccorso encompassed numerous formal types. A review of Madonna del Soccorso images in Northern Italy 1480-1770 shows it was not so much part of an Augustinian movement to replace the Latin type but a multiplication or diversification of popular images under the same title. The icon in Rome influenced the format of the Madison painting, perhaps because its popularity and visibility increased through the reconstruction of the area between the Lateran and Santa Maria Maggiore for the Holy Year of 1575 that was commissioned by the Bolognese Pope Gregory XIII Buoncompagni (1502-1585), who held special personal devotion to the Madonna del Soccorso. In a general sense, the Counter-Reformation emphasis on the importance of Mary as intercessor, supported by leaders such as Carlo Borromeo (1538-1584), helped legitimize new versions of the Madonna del Soccorso as part of the process of reshaping Marian intercessor types.

The style of the Madison Maria del Sochorso Altarpiece places it in seventeenth-century northern Italy. The painting synthesizes certain late Mannerist elements with the dramatic action, conventional foreshortening and twisted figural poses of the Carracci brothers and their workshop. (8) The bright, lemon-yellow aureole and broad flat rays of light around the Virgin's head, vibrating against the dark turquoise blue of her cloak, constitute a distinctly Mannerist lighting effect. The drawing of the hands, with exaggerated long serpentine index fingers appearing in the left hand of Virgin and the hands of both saints, tells us that the artist belonged to a generation trained in Mannerist forms. (9) In contrast, the head of the saint on the right is reminiscent of the popularized, down-to-earth, realistic character types in Bolognese and Lombard seventeenth century schools. The Virgin Mary's face, with her downcast eyes, conveys her sadness contemplating the fate of her son. Her small face, narrow jaw, and pointed chin present a youthful, un-idealized appearance. The cherubic Christ child's facial type, with reddish curly hair and soft, round pink cheeks and pouty mouth, has a Correggesque quality. The painting lacks the high finish of Guido Reni's or Domenichino's productions, perhaps because its surfaces have suffered significant damage over the years. Altogether, it represents a Bolognese, Emilian or Lombard master's interpretation of a popular cult image. The addition of the two adoring saints endows it with a new Baroque rhetorical form, despite the iconic motif embedded in the central composition. The painting reveals the process by which a Baroque artist dramatized and reinvigorated the icon in a narrative context. This differs significantly from the practice of framing icons inside a tabernacle surrounded by a narrative composition which, as Hans Belting and others have noted, was the more characteristic format in the Counter-Reformation. (10) In the Madison Maria del Sochorso, the artist adapted the Greek model to a contemporary format.



The Maria del Sochorso Altarpiece

The Madison Maria del Sochorso Altarpiece is consistent with the type of small-scale devotional images placed in confraternity chapels, oratories, private family chapels, or on side altars in Baroque parish churches. The canvas, measuring only 65.5 x 88 cm., much smaller than a standard Baroque church altarpiece, must have been designed for a more intimate space. The smaller scale would have permitted its removal to be carried in civic religious processions, such as those staged for feast days, like the feast of the Madonna del Soccorso, or to meet special demands, such as the threat of plague. Painted on canvas, it also could have been a confraternity standard, since this type of popular image was often used in processions. (11) It may have been cut down from a larger image, but the physical evidence is inconclusive. The fact that part of the bodies and attributes of the two saints in the foreground are cut off on three sides of the canvas is not, by itself, proof that they originally appeared as full-length figures, since some Baroque devotional altarpieces of similar scale display a close-up, intimate focus. (12) The smaller scale and half-length figures could simply indicate a modest commission. On the other hand, the inscription seems to lack an introductory honorific term, such as "Beata," "Sancta," which suggests that the image may have been trimmed on the left side.

The title "MARIA DEL SOCHORSO" in the upper background identifies the particular Marian type being represented. The denomination "Maria del Soccorso" originated in a miraculous appearance of the Virgin Mary to an Augustinian friar, Fra Nicola Bruni at Sant'Agostino, Palermo in 1306; she appeared in the form of a Hodegetria icon in his church and asked him to pray to her with the new title, "Maria Santissima Vergine del Soccorso." (13) A second miracle the same year in Palermo, when the Virgin appeared again and saved a child from the devil, caught the imagination of the devotional public and quickly surpassed the first image in popularity, so that the title "Madonna del Soccorso" came to be associated more often with the narrative scene. However, during the sixteenth century, the title came into usage for icons of the Virgin of the Passion type. A terminus ante quem for the association of this title with the San Matteo image is provided by the inscription "Deiparae Virgini Succursu Perpetui," which was engraved on the facade by 1575-79. (14) The restoration of the Madison panel confirms that the letters on the altarpiece are original; the inscription's spelling of "sochorso," an archaic form more common in northern Italy, is characteristic of the sixteenth or seventeen centuries before Italian orthography was regularized. (15) It occurs with the "h," for instance, in a letter written by Michelangelo in 1551, "se non ci aparisce altro Sochorso." (16) It is possible that the inscription preserves the form of an older model or simply that it reflects the popular character of the Madison altarpiece's audience.


The depictions of the Virgin Mary and Christ Child in the Madison painting are rooted in the iconography of the Virgin of the Passion (Figure 4). (17) The Christ Child turns away from his mother and looks over his left shoulder toward the angel on the right, who bears a Latin cross and lance. Although the arrangement of these figures is spatially unconvincing, their relationship is symbolic and meant to foreshadow Christ's crucifixion and suffering on the cross. Expressions of the Virgin Mary's maternal feelings and affection for her son, which are usually dramatized in Baroque Madonnas in keeping with the Post-Tridentine effort to humanize the saints, are omitted in order to provoke the viewer's meditation on the future suffering of Christ. In contrast to Sicilian or Marchigiana images of the Madonna del Soccorso, this image reflects a more traditional interpretation of the Virgin's power as intercessor, which was derived from her son and not given solely to her. This issue of Marian power was addressed by the Council of Trent in 1563, and the renewal of interest in the Virgin of the Passion composition may depend in part on the Council's review of the justification for Mary's role as intercessor.


The central figures in the Madison Maria del Sochorso Altarpiece derive from a Virgin of the Passion icon type popularized in Italy by the fifteenth century Cretan artist Andreas Ritzos (1421-92). (18) Its distinguishing feature is the presence of the angels with passion symbols, but the Christ Child may be posed in several ways: facing forward as in a Hodegetria-type Madonna, having his face pressed against his mother's as in the Eleousa-type, or, less commonly, gazing over his shoulder toward the Archangel Michael. The same type is found among thirteenth-century icons from St. Catherine's monastery, Mount Sinai, and may go back to twelfth century models. Andreas Ritzos, whose extant works number around twenty icons, is best known for his triptych in the Cathedral of Bari, signed "Andrea di Rizo da Candia" and dated 1451, which shows a half-length Madonna and Child with the angels carrying passion symbols, flanked by saints Nicholas of Myra and John the Evangelist (Figure 5). The San Matteo icon in Rome is a similar type, which Mario Cattapan attributed to Andreas Ritzos himself, even identifying it as the lost "Cardiotissa of Lassithi." (19) This notion has been questioned after Vatican conservation of the Roman icon in 1994 revealed substantial eighteenth-century repainting, making it difficult to claim more than a general relationship to Ritzos's style. (20) Virgin of the Passion panels, attributed to Ritzos or the later Venetian-Cretan school, are present throughout northern Italy, but none are widely known as miracle-working images. (21) In both the Roman icon and the Madison altarpiece, the Virgin Mary holds the Christ child on her left arm, the child looks backwards over his left shoulder at the angel holding a Latin or patriarchal cross, and the child's right foot is turned upward with his sandal falling off. This detail of the sandal slipping from his foot, and some variation in the instruments of the passion held by the angels, are the only motifs evident in the Greek prototypes that are not found in the seventeenth-century image.

The Madison Maria del Sochorso differs from Ritzos's Virgin of the Passion archetypes in two other significant details: the large halo radiating bands of yellow light and the placement of two gold stars on her veiled head--a larger eight-pointed star similar to a Greek or Maltese cross and a smaller eight-pointed star. The stars on the Madison Virgin's veil belong to the original paint layer and are thus part of the original image. The eight-pointed star is a common attribute of Byzantine Hodegetria, is usually located either on the Virgin's shoulder or veil, and refers to the notion of Mary as the star of Bethlehem. (22) The second star is a Greek pattee fitchee cross often found on the Virgin's veil in a Byzantine Hodegetria. The doubling of the stars on the Virgin's veil and omission of the star on her shoulder is a departure from Byzantine types. The halo encircling the Virgin's head and whole upper body is similar to the aureoles found in early seventeenth century images of the Virgin Immaculata, prior to the standardization of the attributes of the moon beneath her feet, crown and halo with twelve stars. (23) As Hibbard observes in reference to Guido Reni's paintings of the Virgin Immaculata, the deep golden light suggests the gold ground of medieval panels. (24) The same is true for the Madison Maria del Sochorso, in which case the radiating halo refers to the icon's source. In the Madison Maria del Sochorso the doubling of the stars on her veil, accompanied by the halo with radiating light, bestows the highest possible status on Mary and reinforces the power of the Virgin.


The identities of the two saints who accompany the Virgin and Child enrich the religious meaning and indicate the painting's connection to the Augustinian promotion of the cult of the Maria del Soccorso icon (Figure 6). The saints flanking the Madonna would have been selected because they were name saints of the patron(s), dedicatory saints for the chapel in which the cult image was located, or saints who through their own lives or miracles exemplified virtues complementary to the Maria del Soccorso. At left, a middle-aged man with short white hair and beard carries an abbot's or bishop's crozier intertwined with lily flowers and a gospel book; he is dressed in dark monastic robes, which resemble the Benedictine monastic habit, and he has a gold star on his chest. The initial, "N," in the halo has been reinforced over the original letter, and the canvas was damaged in this area. However, he can be identified as Saint Nicholas of Tolentino (1246-1306), who usually appears as a young, beardless or middle-aged Augustinian friar with attributes including the black Augustinian Hermit habit, a sun or star on his breast, a book, a crucifix, and lilies. (25) In this case, he holds a crozier wrapped with lilies instead of the crucifix with lilies and looks more like his namesake, Saint Nicholas of Myra (Bari), but the other features, especially the star on his chest, confirm the identification. Nicola da Tolentino, canonized in 1446, was known primarily as a miracle-worker who cured more than three hundred victims of disease with bread blessed by his prayers to the Virgin Mary. His presence complements the theme of miraculous succor against illness inherent in the Maria del Sochorso. Since San Nicola belonged to the Augustinian Order, the altarpiece was plausibly executed for an Augustinian convent, oratory, or confraternity chapel.


The younger, tonsured, white-haired man on the right side of the composition wears the habit of the "white monks" and therefore must belong to the Cistercian, Camaldolese or Olivetan order. (26) With his abbot's staff, mitre, scapulae, book and the initials "S. B" in the halo, he could be identified as either the Cistercian Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153) or Blessed Bernardo Tolomei (1272-1348), founder of the Olivetan Order, both of whom were especially known for their devotion to the Virgin Mary. Bernard of Clairvaux, who had been canonized in 1174, is often represented in Renaissance altarpieces experiencing his vision of the Virgin Mary, and his writings helped to promote the importance of Mary as the primary intercessor for humanity. (27) His presence would complement the Marian theme of the altarpiece in an intellectual manner. He gazes toward the viewer while simultaneously pointing towards the Madonna and Child in a didactic, demonstrative manner, pointing out the Virgin's efficacy as mediator of difficulties and intercessor. However, the figure's physical type and attributes also fit Blessed Bernardo Tolomei, characterized as a healer who was cured of blindness by the Virgin Mary and died after nursing plague victims in Siena in the Black Death of 1348. (28) Although primarily worshipped in Tuscany, his cult spread more widely after he was beatified in 1634. For a seventeenth century northern Italian audience, Tolomei could personally testify to the Virgin's power, and his own status as a sufferer, healer, and native son facilitated a more affective emotional connection with the figure of Maria del Soccorso. Tolomei is the more plausible identification for both iconographical and historical reasons, and his presence is consistent with the Bolognese or northern Italian origin of painting.


The recent conservation of the Madison altarpiece has yielded new information about the provenance of the artwork. (29) The pigments and canvas were found to be consistent with other examples of Italian seventeenth century painting. Physical evidence shows that the canvas has been restored at least twice; it was backed by rough-woven burlap nailed to the wooden frame, which shows signs of having been scorched by fire. Tiny shards of leaded glass and limestone dust were found in the fabric, which was shredded in some areas. In addition to the burlap, the painting was reinforced with a layer of the Milanese daily newspaper Corriera della Sera featuring bylines and advertising dated 1900 and 1901. At the turn of the twentieth century, the circulation of the Corriera della Sera was mainly regional, until it began to grow into a national daily in the 1910s-20s. (30) On this basis, we can conclude that the canvas was last restored in Milan in the early twentieth century. The conservators believe this object sustained significant damage from some type of major conflagration, probably caused by an explosion. This could have resulted from a nineteenth-century conflict, either in the period 1798-1810, when Napoleon occupied Italy and suppressed many churches and convents, (including San Matteo in Merulana), or later, during the unification of Italy in the 1850s-60s.

The Beata Vergine del Perpetuo Soccorso in Rome

The Madison Maria del Sochorso Altarpiece derives its title and core composition from the San Matteo Virgin of the Passion icon, whose cult originated in Rome circa 1500. Among the eighty-some Madonna and Child images in Roman churches, the "Madonna of San Matteo" was a late arrival in a field already well-populated with miraculous Marian images. It did not achieve quite the degree of devotion of the more entrenched cults of the Madonna Salus Populi in nearby Santa Maria Maggiore, the Madonna of Clemenza in Santa Maria in Trastevere, or the Madonna of San Sisto. (31) The church of San Matteo in Merulana, though dedicated to one of the Evangelists, was a humble structure. (32) Located in the Roman disabitato north of San Giovanni Laterano, it functioned as a pilgrims' hospice until well into the 1300s. (33) The Hermit Augustinians received the small complex in 1455 and several decades later acquired a miraculous Marian icon. At first known simply as the "Madonna di San Matteo," this icon was installed in the church on March 27, 1499 under the auspices of Pope Alexander VI Borgia (1492-1503). (34)

The legend of this Marian icon involves not only its thaumaturgic properties but also the icon's miraculous power of self-propulsion and its ability to determine its own preferred location. The icon's history is described in a document that has been displayed as proof of its authenticity alongside the panel since the late fifteenth century. (35) The text may have been written in 1499 or may be a sixteenth-century record of an earlier oral tradition. (36) It refers to the miracle-working Madonna's "unauthorized removal" from a church in Chandaz, Crete (Candia), which was ruled by the Venetians and thus was a safe haven for Byzantine artists fleeing Turkish occupation in the later fifteenth century. A merchant fled from Crete to Rome, taking the icon with him. He kept the panel hidden and left it to a friend upon his death. When the merchant's friend did not carry out his dying wish to place it in a church, the Virgin Mary appeared to several people demanding this be done. The Madonna del Soccorso appeared to a child and told her to instruct her mother to place her image "between Santa Maria Maggiore and San Giovanni Laterano, in a church dedicated to San Matteo." (37)

In the legend, the Virgin of the icon actively intervenes in human affairs to determine her fate. She is said to have caused two people's deaths, before she was finally removed to a church. If the San Matteo icon legend has a lesson, it is that the miracle-working icon should not have remained as secular property but rather be situated in a sacred setting. As Zuraw and others have pointed out, there are recorded cases of icons kept in private homes in Rome, but the papacy had an interest in having them displayed in public places where civic rituals could be maintained. (38) This tension between private and church ownership of icons, although especially characteristic of Rome, is also documented elsewhere in Italy. The basic conflict recalls another later fifteenth century case involving a merchant in the Marche, who obtained a Byzantine icon, kept it in his own house and charged money to devotees to visit it. This practice was stopped through the agency of the Observant Franciscan friar Giacomo della Marca (1394-1476), who obtained a rival icon to tempt the faithful away from the one in private hands. The legend establishes the importance of icons being viewed as part of the institution and hierarchy of the Catholic Church.


From 1500-1574 the cult of the Madonna of San Matteo developed slowly, as demonstrated by the guidebooks and documented patronage. It was mentioned, along with the icon's Cretan origin, in Fra Mariano's Itinerarium Urbis Romae (1517), as well as in Andrea Palladio's Descritione de le chiese: stationi, indulgenze & Reliquie di Roma (1554). (39) Pope Leo X re-established San Matteo's cardinalate in 1517 and appointed Fra Egidio da Viterbo, Prior General of the Augustinians 1517-1519, to the office. Copies of lapidary inscriptions recorded before the church's destruction show that Egidio da Viterbo and Bartolomeo de la Cueva restored the church, but not enough evidence survives to reconstruct the ritual space beyond the fact that it had a single nave with three altars. The pavement was Cosmatesque marble, and the ceiling contained the crests of Clement VII and Fra Egidio. (40) An impression of the interior's richness can be gained from records of patronage in the 1550s, when a certain Suor Maria Pacheco, from the convent of Santa Cruz de Ciudad Rodriguez (Spain), gifted the church with a golden tabernacle for the main altar, lamps, and various other objects. Alonso suggests that she may have been acting in concert with her cousin Francisco Cardinal Pacheco di Toledo (1508-1579), protector of the Augustinian Order at this time. (41) Much later, in 1866, Bresciani described a marble tabernacle with saints' figures that had been removed from San Matteo before it was demolished in 1801 and was placed in the cloister of San Giovanni Lateran. (42)

Prior to the Holy Year of 1575, San Matteo's participation in Roman Marian civic rituals was hampered by its location in the disabitato, but after this year, the building of Via Gregoriana raised the icon's public profile. In Pirro Ligorio's map of Rome of 1552 (Figure 7), San Matteo appears opposite the church of Saints Pietro and Marcellino on a road leading from San Vito and Sant' Eusebio towards the Lateran that is blocked by ruins of the Aquae Claudia. In 1574 Pope Gregory XIII Buoncompagni (1572-1585) described this area as "a deserted district filled with ruins and brushwood" that made the way between the Lateran and Santa Croce in Gerusalemme long, difficult, and dangerous for pilgrims, because it was under-populated. (43) Because of its isolation, the icon may not have received many visitors except for Saturdays and feast days dedicated to the Virgin. However, in 1574 Pope Gregory XIII ordered the construction of the Via Gregoriana as quickly as possible before the influx of pilgrims arrived the next winter. In Mario Cartaro's map of 1575 (Figure 8), "S. Matthaei" appears on a straightened road leading directly from Santa Maria Maggiore to San Giovanni Lateran. (44) In 1579, an elegant new inscription restating the convent's dedication to Saint Matthew and advertising the presence of the Madonna del Soccorso icon was carved over a new marble portal. (45) In 1600, Panziroli mentioned the Blessed Virgin, "which from the number of miracles wrought and the countless graces received well merits being regarded as miraculous;" a few years later, in his guidebook, Totti called it the "Very Miraculous image," "Valde Miraculosa." (46)

While Pope Gregory XIII's primary intention was certainly to improve the routes between the Lateran, Santa Maria Maggiore, and Santa Croce in Gerusalemme, the building of Via Gregoriana had the correlative effect of raising the profile of the Beata Vergine del Perpetuo Soccorso. Freiburg notes that Gregory XIII's Lateran renovations were mainly an expression of his understanding of its unique historical position, but Gregory may also have been interested in incorporating the Madonna del Soccorso into this already established civic ritual. (47) The new processional route reinforced the Lateran's importance in the annual procession on the feast of the Assumption of the Virgin (August 15), in which the Acheropita icon of Christ went to meet his mother, personified in the Salus Popoli Romana icon in Santa Maria Maggiore. The practice of the two venerable icons meeting in the streets was discontinued in 1566, although the church of San Matteo (standing almost exactly halfway between the two basilicas) would have recalled the midway point. In 1575, the procession began from S. Maria Aracoeli on the night of August 14, when the Acheropita was carried by porters to visit a number of churches. On its return from Santa Maria Maggiore to the Lateran, the final stop for a change of porters occurred at San Matteo in Merulana. (48)

Pope Gregory XIII, born Ugo Buoncompagni in Bologna in 1502, also carried a personal devotion to the Madonna del Soccorso. After a distinguished career under Popes Paul III, Paul IV, and Pius IV, he was elected pope in 1572 and dedicated his papacy to implementing the rulings of the Council of Trent. (49) In addition to the urban renewal projects of 1573-75, Gregory turned his attention to completing the decoration of Saint Peter's basilica, especially the Gregorian Chapel in the south transept. For the altarpiece, he selected a twelfth-century fresco fragment and miraculous image, known as the "Madonna del Soccorso," which he solemnly translated from the Oratory of Saint Leo in the old basilica on February 12, 1578. (50) The icon, showing a simple bust-length Virgin and Child, was surrounded with a framing tabernacle constructed of alabaster, amethysts and other precious stones. This is the first example of the new type of altar tabernacle (Figure 9) used to enshrine Marian icons, part of the strategy of defending the Church from Protestant attacks on the cult of Mary. In celebrating this twelfth century image, the pope was also legitimizing and creating a pre-history for the Madonna del Soccorso cult in Rome, as well as distinguishing it from the San Matteo icon, which was renamed the "Beata Maria del Perpetuo Soccorso" in 1579.

San Matteo continued to be the center of the Madonna del Soccorso cult in the seventeenth century, although this period was marked by shifts in the Augustinian community. By 1629, the number of altars had grown from three to five, including one dedicated to Nicola da Tolentino, and the main altar was surrounded by numerous votive tablets. (51) An active and prosperous confraternity, "Beata Vergine Maria del Soccorso, S. Giuliano, e missioni di Roma," cared for the convent's famous icon.52 Around 1640, the main altar was redecorated with an Annunciation by Giovanni Antonio Lelli (1580-1640s), a pupil of Ludovico Cigoli. (53) The new altarpiece may have caused a change in the location or setting of the miraculous icon. Around mid-century, there was a decline in the community, and it was re-organized with Irish Augustinians fleeing from Oliver Cromwell's persecution and with Observant Augustinians from Perugia. (54) When the Augustinians were forced to leave San Matteo in 1801, they took the icon with them to Santa Maria in Posterula, where it was rediscovered in 1865. In 1866 the Virgin and Christ Child received crowns, which were only removed in the 1994 restoration. (55) The history of the church and community of San Matteo suggests that the icon's period of maximum influence, when it might have served as a source of inspiration for the Maria del Soccorso Altarpiece, was between 1575-c.1700. A few seventeenth to eighteenth century copies of the icon are known, one in which the Virgin and Child's faces have been modernized in Baroque style. (56) However, unlike the case of the more ancient and well-known icon of Maria Salus Populi at Santa Maria Maggiore, there does not seem to have been a concerted institutional campaign to replicate the icon and disseminate its image before 1866. (57)

The Maria del Soccorso as a Counter-Reformation Marian Image

The cult of the Madonna del Soccorso in Rome and the miraculous icon at San Matteo supply the religious, historical, and artistic context for the Madison Maria del Sochorso Altarpiece, yet it is still necessary to clarify the painting's purpose or function and the circumstances of the Roman icon's integration into a northern Italian Baroque composition that also depicts Saints Nicola of Tolentino and Bernardo Tolomei. The painting's appropriation of a well-known, miracle-working icon certainly contributed to the power and efficacy of the Virgin's role as intercessor. Nicola da Tolentino and Bernardo Tolomei, as witnesses to and beneficiaries of the Virgin's miracles, testify to the Virgin's efficacy, reinforce her connection to the sick, and promote her accessibility to the faithful. A closer examination of Post-Tridentine teachings and the cult of the Madonna del Soccorso in northern Italy strengthens this interpretation.

The Council of Trent (1545-63) affirmed the beneficial effects of saints' images but vowed to cleanse them of any superstitious and unorthodox elements. The bishops declared the purpose of images was "first of all to instruct the faithful about intercession of the saints, invocation of them, reverences for their relics and legitimate use of images." They also taught that images of Christ, the Virgin mother of God, and other saints should be set up and kept in churches and that they should be treated with reverence, "not because it is owed to them, not because some divinity or power is believed to lie in them as reason for the cult, or because anything is expected of them, or because confidence was placed in images as was done by the pagans of old; but because the honor showed to them is referred to the original which they represent." (58) In the case of an image like the Madison Maria del Sochorso, this meant that the faithful should understand that it was the Virgin Mary herself who performed the intercession not her image, thus differentiating the power of the saints depicted from the physical and visual image in the altarpiece. This was particularly important in a popular devotional image. In the later 1570s Cardinal Gabriel Paleotti (1522-97), archbishop of Bologna, drafted a treatise titled Discorso intorno alle imagini sacre e profane that developed these ideas further and was aimed at painters, whom he called "silent preachers." (59) This invested artists with a greater responsibility to interpret the subjects according to the new, Post-Tridentine doctrines.

The combined presence of Saints Nicola da Tolentino and Bernardo Tolomei, both known as healers, suggests that the altarpiece may have been commissioned as a plague image. One of the only characteristics that these Augustinian and Olivetan saints share is their reputation for defending the populace against the plague. Given the title "Pestis Propulsator"(plague-repeller), the Augustinians advertised Nicola da Tolentino as a sainted doctor capable of defending people against the plague from the fifteenth century onwards. (60) He was also invoked by the Augustinians in a more general sense as "Confortator pauperum et miserabilium personarum" (consoler of poor and wretched people) to aid people against poverty, unjust condemnations, and civil discord. The most common narrative representations of Tolomei's life show him interceding to stop the plague or visiting plague victims. (61) If the canvas was cut down at the lower border, where it seems to have been damaged by fire and water, the lost portion may have followed the format of some seventeenth century plague images, for example, Guido Reni's so-called Pala della Peste, in the Galleria Nazionale, Bologna (Figure 10). (62) This was commissioned in thanksgiving for Bologna's deliverance from the plague of 1630, one of the worst epidemics in northern Italy. (63) Baroque plague altarpieces commonly include the Madonna and Child in glory, major intercessor saints beseeching her mercy, and at the lower edge, a walled city skyline, with dead victims being carried out of the city gates. The Madison Maria del Sochorso, still scaled as a chapel or confraternity image, might even have included a miniature panoramic city skyline between the lower bodies of the two saints.

The spread of the "Madonna del Soccorso" cult in northern Italy in the sixteenth to mid-eighteenth centuries has yet to be studied in depth, but a preliminary survey finds sites/images with this name in twenty-six sanctuaries from Tuscany northward into Emilia-Romagna, Liguria, Piedmont, Lombardy, and the Veneto; over 50% are located in Tuscany (Appendix I). (64) 80% of the churches or chapels were established in the sixteenth century, with the earliest "Madonna Beating the Devil" images found in the Augustinian churches of Santo Spirito, Florence (Domenico di Zanobi, c.1485) and Sant'Agostino, Sansepolcro (Gerino da Pistoia, 1502). (65) In 25% of the cases, the cult arose in connection with plague epidemics, especially in the 1520s. Only one church, the Franciscan Madonna del Perpetuo Soccorso at Bussolengo near Lake Como, has a Virgin of the Passion icon with the same title, but this replaced an earlier image. (66) The denomination "Beata Maria del Soccorso" or "Madonna del Soccorso" was used for a broad spectrum of formal compositions, including the Madonna Beating the Devil, the Madonna del Latte, the Madonna with a Rose, the Madonna with a Lily, the Madonna and Child Enthroned with Saints (sacra conversazione) and the Madonna of Misericordia. One reason for this variation is that 45% of the shrines grew from preexistent miracle-working images that were renamed because of their proven efficacy. Even when these north Italian images do not relate explicitly to the earlier Sicilian legend of the Madonna del Soccorso, similar legends of ostensibly local origin are frequently linked to the images. In 75% of the cases, the sanctuaries were found in remote rural or small village settings. In Tuscany, the Madonna del Soccorso shrines are clustered in the south, in the hills outside Siena, Arezzo, and Grosseto, as well as between Lucca and Pisa. Altogether this gives a strong sense of the north Italian "Maria del Soccorso" as a cult stemming from popular devotion, as opposed to a well-organized campaign encouraged by metropolitan church authorities.


However, devotion to the Madonna del Soccorso was also encouraged in northern Italy by church authorities, including the pope himself. At the same time that Pope Gregory XIII in Rome was decorating the chapel in Saint Peter's dedicated to the Madonna del Soccorso, he was instrumental in building a new church in Bologna dedicated to "Santa Maria del Soccorso." A popular cult of a late medieval image known as the "Madonnina del Borgo" or the "Madonna del Soccorso" had grown up in the working class district of Borgo San Pietro in 1517-20. (67) A confraternity was established by 1520, and when bubonic plague struck in 1527, the Madonna del Soccorso confraternity members, joined by all the people of the quarter, carried the statue in procession down Borgo San Pietro to the cathedral of San Petronio. The plague stopped immediately after the statue was returned to her altar, and the devotion expanded to a city-wide cult with followers from a broad social spectrum. Aided by numerous indulgences granted by Pope Gregory XIII, the chapel was replaced by a larger church designed by Domenico Tibaldi, architect to Cardinal Gabriele Paleotti, and Pope Gregory's patronage was commemorated by a marble tablet. (68) The miracle-working statue was placed in a niche behind the altar, and the interior was richly decorated by one of the confraternity members.

Northeast of Bologna, a string of "Maria del Soccorso" foundations and images of various types in Ferrara, Rovigo, Venice, and Verona attest to manifestations of both urban and rural piety. In Ferrara, the church of Santa Maria in Vado contains a Post-Byzantine Venetian/Cretan icon, almost identical to the Madonna di San Matteo in Rome. This panel did not have a miracle-working reputation and was known by the title "Virgin Amolyntos" (Immaculate Virgin), so it cannot be considered truly a "Madonna del Soccorso" cult. In Rovigo, an image known as "Santa Maria della Mura" from 1515, began performing miracles during the plague of the 1520s and was renamed the "Madonna del Soccorso." The cult became so popular during the sixteenth-century that a new church had to be constructed in 1594. (69) In Venice, the courtesan Veronica Franco founded an oratory named "Santa Maria del Soccorso" that was intended to help prostitutes (like herself) reform their lives. (70) Near Verona two rural sanctuaries in the region of Lake Como, at Bussolengo and Costermano, received similar titles: At Bussolengo, a "Madonna del Perpetuo Soccorso" was venerated from circa 1500, and at Costermano, the sanctuary of "Beata Maria del Soccorso" was erected 1500-1520 on a site where the Virgin Mary had appeared to a deaf-mute shepherdess and offered her miraculous bread. (71)

The cult of the Madonna del Soccorso in Lombardy was rooted in popular devotion encouraged by Capucchin friars in the Post-Tridentine period and was less connected with Augustinian patronage. (72) An institution within the city of Milan that may have in the past housed an image of the Soccorso type was the convent and hospital, "Santa Maria del Soccorso" (Convertite, 1430-1786), founded by Isabella of Aragon (1470-1524) and later supported by archbishops Carlo and Federico Borromeo. (73) In addition, there were "pious places" (perhaps altars) dedicated to the "Beata Maria del Soccorso" in the parishes of San Pietro con la Rete (from 1524) and San Simpliciano. (74) In greater Lombardy, a sixteenth-century Venetian/Cretan school Virgin of the Passion icon is found in the village church of San Bartolomeo, Olera (Bergamo). (75) Recorded in pastoral visits of 1547 and 1575, it is thought to have been brought from the Veneto by local stoneworkers, possibly under the patronage of a Capuchin friar. However, like the Ferrara icon, it was not known under the title of Maria del Soccorso, and never seems to have been associated with miraculous cures. In contrast, the rural oratory of Santa Maria del Soccorso between the villages of Gerenzano and Uboldo (Varese) was founded circa 1500 by a Hermit Augustinian friar, Gerolamo De Gardi. According to Archbishop Francesco Cardano's pastoral visit in 1566, this housed a miraculous image, "Santa Maria Buzaratto," which was renamed "Santa Maria del Soccorso" by the Augustinian friar in 1530. (76) Still extant at Uboldo, the fresco by Bernardino Luini, dated 1507, depicts an Enthroned Madonna lactans and Child accompanied by saints Christopher, Rocco, Sebastian and Anthony Abbot and a kneeling donor. (77) In view of the presence of the plague saints Rocco and Sebastian, this Virgin was probably invoked against the plague. This manifestation of the cult of Maria del Soccorso evolved from an earlier image that conformed to neither the Virgin of the Passion nor the Virgin Beating the Devil types. Its connection to the Soccorso type seems to have been imposed by the Hermit Augustianian friar to whose order the Madonna del Soccorso was so important. Finally, the sacred mount of Ossuccio (Como), developed by the Franciscans from 1537-1610, was a devotional complex of fifteen rosary chapels leading up to a pre-existent chapel named for the "Beata Vergine del Soccorso," whose two miracle-working images were a fourteenth-century marble Madonna and Child sculpture and a Madonna and Child Enthroned with saints fresco, dated 1501. (78)

The Maria del Sochorso Altarpiece in the Madison Art Collection contributes to our knowledge of this diverse group of northern Italian images. The disassociation of the title from the Greek/Cretan icon type suggests that the Hermit Augustinians were unsuccessful in establishing a wide-spread copying of the Roman model. However, the presence of San Nicola da Tolentino in the Madison altarpiece offers evidence of the important role played by Augustinians in diffusing the cult of the Madonna del Soccorso. Since both Nicola da Tolentino and Bernardo Tolomei were known as intercessors against the plague and other "Soccorso" images were connected with the plague, it can be hypothesized that the Maria del Sochorso may have been commissioned in response to an epidemic, perhaps the "Great Plague of Milan" which killed 280,000 persons in 1629-1631. A mid-seventeenth century date is within the period of major influence of the San Matteo "Beata Vergine del Perpetuo Soccorso" icon. Although the Madison painting's place of origin remains uncertain, its provenance is most likely to have been a site developed by an Augustinian friar. The Maria del Sochorso Altarpiece is modest in scale and manufacture, but the artist was unusually creative in returning directly to the central Roman iconographic source for his composition. The artist, patron, or Augustinian advisor must have visited Rome and known the Beata Vergine del Perpetuo Soccorso icon at San Matteo in Merulana. Unlike other images under the "Madonna del Soccorso" title, this artist attempted to reinvigorate the traditional intercessory powers of the Marian image by appropriating the old Greek/Cretan model.
Appendix I: Table of Madonna (Maria) del Soccorso Sites, Northern
Italy, 1450-1770.

Name & Place           Date/ Artist          Reason for Cult

Montecarlo (Lucca/     1390s-1483            Miracle--Madonna
Pescia), Collegiata                          saved the city from
di Sant'Andrea,                              siege and plague
Altar of the Madonna
del Soccorso

Florence, S.           c. 1470s-85,          Patron's son saved
Spirito, Velluti       Domenico di Zanobi    by the Virgin

Roccalbegna            1440s-i550            Plague (?)
(Grosseto), S. Maria
del Soccorso

Minucciano (Lucca),    1490s-1550            Related to a
Eremo Beata Vergine                          pilgrims' hospice

Lucca, San Frediano    c. 1510               Miracle of Hebrew
Altar of Madonna del                         child resuscitated
Soccorso                                     in 1513

Sanswepolcro,          1502, Gerino da       Popular legend, the
(Arezzo) S.            Pistoia               Madonna & the devil
Agostino, Madonna
del Soccorso Altar

Scarlino (Grosseto),   c. 1500               Renamed
ex-chapel of Madonna
del Soccorso

Costermano (Verona),   c.1510-1520           Miraculous
Sanc. Beato Maria                            appearance of the
del Soccorso                                 Virgin

Villanova d'Albenga    1520                  Unknown
(Savona), S. Maria
del Soccorso

Bologna, S. Maria      1520s                 Plague, Miracle-
del Soccorso                                 working statue

Monte San Savino       1523, Niccolo Soggi   Plague, Miraculous
(Arezzo), S. Maria                           Image
del Soccorso

Rovigo, S. Maria del   1520s-1594            Plague, Miracle-
Soccorso (la                                 working image

Uboldo/Gerenzano       1500-1530             Plague (?)
(Varese), S. Beata
Vergine del Soccorso
bot fresco

Ossuccio (Como), S.    1537-1630s            Miracle-working
Maria del Soccorso                           images

Pietra Ligure          1548                  Miracle-working
(Savona)                                     image

Pistoia, altar of      1550-1600             Connected with the
Maria SS. del                                Ospedale del Ceppo
Soccorso, in ex-
church of S.
Liberata (S. Maria
in Borgo)

Bussolengo (Verona),   1500s-1800s           Unknown
Sanc. Madonna del
Perpetuo Soccorso

Montalcino (Siena),    1553                  Miraculous image
S. Maria del

Scrofiano              1550-1600             Unknown
(Sinalunga, Siena)
Madonna del Soccorso

Prato, Sanctuary       c. 1575               Miraculous
Madonna del Soccorso                         appearance of the
                                             Virgin to a child

Scansano (Grosseto),   1500-1600             Unknown
Church of S. John
Baptist, altar of S.
Maria del Soccorso

Venice, S. Maria del   1593                  Private female
Soccorso                                     patronage

Montopoli Val d'Arno   1606                  Plague (?)
(Pisa), Church of
Madonna del Soccorso

Sasso d'Ombrone        1640                  Miracle-working
(Cingiano) Sanctuary                         image
of the Madonna del

Sant'Agata Feltria     1600s                 Miracle--Virgin saved
(Ravenna), Oratory                           the village
of Madonna del

Bagnara di Romagna     1766-70               Miracle-working
(Ravenna), Beata                             water
Vergine del Soccorso

Name & Place           Affiliation & locale   Pre-existent Image

Montecarlo (Lucca/     Popular cult,          Yes
Pescia), Collegiata    Augustinian
di Sant'Andrea,
Altar of the Madonna
del Soccorso

Florence, S.           Augustinian, urban     1
Spirito, Velluti

Roccalbegna            Popular cult,          Yes
(Grosseto), S. Maria   village
del Soccorso

Minucciano (Lucca),    Popular cult, rural    No
Eremo Beata Vergine

Lucca, San Frediano    Popular cult,          Yes
Altar of Madonna del   Augustinian

Sanswepolcro,          Augustinian, urban     No
(Arezzo) S.
Agostino, Madonna
del Soccorso Altar

Scarlino (Grosseto),   Popular cult,          Yes, 15th c.
ex-chapel of Madonna   village
del Soccorso

Costermano (Verona),   Popular cult, rural    No
Sanc. Beato Maria
del Soccorso

Villanova d'Albenga    Popular cult, rural    Yes
(Savona), S. Maria
del Soccorso

Bologna, S. Maria      Popular cult,urban     Yes, late Medieval
del Soccorso

Monte San Savino       Popular cult,          No
(Arezzo), S. Maria     village
del Soccorso

Rovigo, S. Maria del   Franciscan, urban      Yes, "S. Maria alle
Soccorso (la                                  Mura"

Uboldo/Gerenzano       Augustinian, rural     Yes, Bernardino
(Varese), S. Beata                            Luini,1507
Vergine del Soccorso
bot fresco

Ossuccio (Como), S.    Popular cult,          Yes, late Medieval
Maria del Soccorso     Franciscan, rural

Pietra Ligure          Franciscan, Popular    Yes, Medieval
(Savona)               cult

Pistoia, altar of      Popular cult, urban    Yes, 14th c. image,
Maria SS. del                                 ex-church San
Soccorso, in ex-                              Girolamo dei Gesuati
church of S.
Liberata (S. Maria
in Borgo)

Bussolengo (Verona),   Franciscan, village    Unknown
Sanc. Madonna del
Perpetuo Soccorso

Montalcino (Siena),    Popular cult,          Yes, late medieval
S. Maria del           village

Scrofiano              Popular cult,          Unknown
(Sinalunga, Siena)     village
Madonna del Soccorso

Prato, Sanctuary       Popular cult, urban    Yes
Madonna del Soccorso

Scansano (Grosseto),   Unknown, village       No
Church of S. John
Baptist, altar of S.
Maria del Soccorso

Venice, S. Maria del   For reformed           No
Soccorso               prostitutes, urban

Montopoli Val d'Arno   Popular cult,          Yes
(Pisa), Church of      village
Madonna del Soccorso

Sasso d'Ombrone        Popular & Franciscan   Yes
(Cingiano) Sanctuary   cult, village
of the Madonna del

Sant'Agata Feltria     Popular cult, rural    No
(Ravenna), Oratory
of Madonna del

Bagnara di Romagna     Popular cult, rural    Yes
(Ravenna), Beata
Vergine del Soccorso

Name & Place           Image Type

Montecarlo (Lucca/     Madonna Beating the
Pescia), Collegiata    Devil & Child
di Sant'Andrea,
Altar of the Madonna
del Soccorso

Florence, S.           Madonna Beating the
Spirito, Velluti       Devil & Child panel

Roccalbegna            Madonna & Child,
(Grosseto), S. Maria   Sts. Sebastian &
del Soccorso           Mary Magdalen

Minucciano (Lucca),    Madonna Beating the
Eremo Beata Vergine    Devil type; Madonna
                       & Child with dei
                       Perpetuo Soccorso
                       Sts. Rocco & S.
                       Michael Archangel

Lucca, San Frediano    Madonna Beating the
Altar of Madonna del   Devil & Child,
Soccorso               fresco

Sanswepolcro,          Madonna Beating the
(Arezzo) S.            Devil banner
Agostino, Madonna
del Soccorso Altar

Scarlino (Grosseto),   Madonna & Child with
ex-chapel of Madonna   Lily fresco
del Soccorso

Costermano (Verona),   Virgin Mary
Sanc. Beato Maria      appearing to a
del Soccorso           shepherdess

Villanova d'Albenga    Madonna & Child
(Savona), S. Maria
del Soccorso

Bologna, S. Maria      Madonna & Child
del Soccorso           sculpture

Monte San Savino       Madonna & Child
(Arezzo), S. Maria
del Soccorso

Rovigo, S. Maria del   Madonna & Child with
Soccorso (la           a Rose

Uboldo/Gerenzano       Madonna & Child,
(Varese), S. Beata     Sts. Christopher,
Vergine del Soccorso   Sebastian, Rocco,
bot fresco             Anthony Ab

Ossuccio (Como), S.    Madonna & child
Maria del Soccorso     sculpture. Madonna &
                       Child, Sts. fresco

Pietra Ligure          Madonna & Child

Pistoia, altar of      Madonna & Child
Maria SS. del          frescov
Soccorso, in ex-
church of S.
Liberata (S. Maria
in Borgo)

Bussolengo (Verona),   Virgin of the
Sanc. Madonna del      Passion (not the
Perpetuo Soccorso      original image)

Montalcino (Siena),    Madonna & Child
S. Maria del

Scrofiano              Unknown
(Sinalunga, Siena)
Madonna del Soccorso

Prato, Sanctuary       Madonna del Latte,
Madonna del Soccorso   fresco (framed
                       within altarpiece,
                       Santi di Tito)

Scansano (Grosseto),   Madonna della
Church of S. John      Misericordia with
Baptist, altar of S.   Sts.
Maria del Soccorso

Venice, S. Maria del   Virgin Immaculate

Montopoli Val d'Arno   Madonna & Child,
(Pisa), Church of      Sts. Sebastian &
Madonna del Soccorso   Verdiana

Sasso d'Ombrone        Madonna & Child,
(Cingiano) Sanctuary   Sts. Anthony Abbot &
of the Madonna del     Anthony of Padua

Sant'Agata Feltria     Madonna Beating the
(Ravenna), Oratory     Devil
of Madonna del

Bagnara di Romagna     Madonna & Child
(Ravenna), Beata       ceramic sculpture
Vergine del Soccorso


(1.) This oil on canvas was acquired by Classics professor John A. Sawhill in the years 1960s-70s, most likely from the Alexander Raydon Galleries, New York, N.Y. It is published here for the first time. My thanks are given to Dr. Kathryn Stevens, Director of the Madison Art Collection, for her support, as well as to Mark E. Wittl of Virginia Art Conservation and Restoration, LLC.

(2.) On the copies, see Prosper Meerschaut, "De Imaginibus B.M.V. de Perpetuo Socorro," Analecta Sanctissimi Redemptoris 31 (1959): 87-90; Fabriciano Ferrero, Nuestra Senora del Perpetuo Socorro: Processo Historico de una Devocion Mariana (Madrid: Edizioni El Perpetuo Socorro, 1966); Fabriciano Ferrero, "Nuestra Senora del Perpetuo Socorro: Informacion bibliografica y cronologia general," Spicilegium Historicum Sanctissimi Redemptoris 38 (1990): 446-502; Fabriciano Ferrero, The Story of an Icon (Cambridge: Redemptorist Publications, 2001). See also, Archivio Generale Congregationis Santissimis Renditoris (AG CSSR) I, 1-2, A. Mariscal, Inventarium Imaginum parvi Musaei B.M.V. de P.S., anno dom. 1910. Thanks are given to the Redemptorist Fathers Gilbert Enderle and Edward Nocun for their kind assistance in the Sant'Alfonso archive, Rome.

(3.) Anne Eriksen, "Our Lady of Perpetual Help: Invented Tradition and Devotional Success," Journal of Folklore Research 42 (2005): 295-321; Timothy and Joseph Kelly, "Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Gender Roles, and the Decline of Devotional Catholicism," Journal of Social History 32 (1998): 5-26.

(4.) On the appropriation of other icons in the Renaissance and Baroque periods, see Kenneth M. Setton, "The Byzantine Background to the Italian Renaissance," Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society 100 (1956): 1-76; Anthony Cutler, "From Loot to Scholarship: Changing Modes in the Italian Response to Byzantine Artifacts, ca. 1200-1750," Dumbarton Oaks Papers 49 (Symposium on Byzantium and the Italians, 13th-15th Centuries) (1995): 237-267; Robert S. Nelson, "The Italian Appreciation and Appropriation of Illuminated Byzantine Manuscripts, ca. 1200-1450," Dumbarton Oaks Papers 49 (1995): 209-35; Alexander Nagel, "Gifts for Michelangelo and Vittoria Colonna," The Art Bulletin 79 (1997): 647-668; Lennia Kouneni, "The Kykkotissa Virgin and its Italian Appropriation," Artibus et Historiae 29 (2008): 95-107; Kirstin Noreen, "The Icon of Santa Maria Maggiore, Rome: An image and its Afterlife," Renaissance Studies 19:5 (2005): 660-672; Kirstin Noreen, " Replicating the Icon of Santa Maria Maggiore: The Mater ter admirabilis and the Jesuits of Ingolstad, "Visual Resources 24 (2008): 19-37.

(5.) On this type, see Paul Perdrizet, Vierge de la Misericorde: Etude d'un theme iconographique (Paris: Fontmoing, 1908); Umberto Gnoli, "La Madonna del Soccorso, Appendice II," Bollettino d'Arte della pubblica Istruzione 16 (1918): 30-32; Giuseppe Crocetti, "La Madonna del Soccorso, storia ed arte," La messaggio della Santa Casa (1990): 116-118; Mario Sensi, "Le Madonne del Soccorso umbromarchigiane nell'iconografia e nella pieta," Bollettino storico della citta di Foligno 18 (1994): 7-88; Tiziana Marozzi, Iconografia Umbro-Marchigiana del Madonna del Soccorso (San Ginesio: Assessorato della Cultura, 2001); Efrat El-Hanany, "Beating the Devil: Images of the Madonna del Soccorso in Italian Renaissance Art" (PhD diss., Indiana University, 2005).

(6.) El-Hanany, "Beating the Devil," 201-202.

(7.) See Raoul Paciaroni, Lo Stendardo sanseverinate della Madonna del Soccorso (Citta di San Severino, 2009), 9-16, 50-51 for recent bibliography on the "Madonna Beating the Devil" type.

(8.) On Bolognese artists, see Carlo Cesare Malvasia, Felsina pittrice, ed. G. P. Zanotti (Bologna: Tipografia Guidi all'Ancora, 1842); Arturo G. Quintavalle, ed., Arte in Emilia (Parma: La Nazionale, 1960); Renato Roli, Pittura Bolognese 1650-1800: Dal Cignani ai Gandolfi (Bologna: Alfa, 1977); The Age of Correggio and the Carracci: Emilian Painting of the 16th and 17th Centuries (National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C., 1986); Adriano Cera, ed., La Pittura bolognese del '700 (Milano: Longanesi, 1994). On the Lombard artists, see Carlo Pirovano, La pittura in Lombardia (Milano: Electa, 1973); Bram de Klerck, The Brothers Campi: images and devotion: religious painting in sixteenth century Lombardy, trans. Andrew McCormick (Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 1999); Valerio Terraroli, ed., Lombardia barocca e tardobarocca: arte e architettura (Milano: Skira, 2004).

(9.) Mannerist workshops in Bologna which might have produced an artwork like this included the Flemish emigre Denis Calvaert (1540-1617). See Simone Twiehaus, Dionisio Calvaert (1540-1619): die Altarwerke (Berlin: Reimer, 2002). The Madison Art Collection wishes to thank Professor Jeffrey Fontana for this suggestion.

(10.) For instance, the Madonna del Soccorso, reframed in a tabernacle in the Gregorian Chapel, Saint Peters, in 1578; The Madonna della Vallicella, incorporated into Ruben's high altar of the Chiesa Nuova in 1608; The Salus Populi Romani, reframed in a bronze relief in Santa Maria Maggiore in 1613. See Hans Belting, Likeness and Presence: A History of the Image before the Era of Art, trans. Edmund Jephcott (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1994), 484-490; Stephen K. Ostrow, Art and Spirituality in Counter-Reformation Rome (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996); Karen Butler, "Ruben's first painting for the High Altar of Santa Maria in Valicella and his unsuccessful sales strategy," in Sacred Possessions ed. Gail Feigenbaum and Sybill Ebert-Schifferer (Los Angeles: Getty Publications, 2011), 17-38.

(11.) However, the standard from San Severino measures 193x 118 cm., which is still larger than the Maria del Sochorso Altarpiece.

(12.) The half-length Madonna and Child with saints was a fifteenth century Venetian format, as in Giovanni Bellini's oeuvre. In the seven teenth century, it was used for themes like the Holy Family or Mystic Marriage of Saint Catherine: Ludovico Cigoli's Holy Family (Museo Civico, Pistoia, 1592), which measures 103 x 103 cm.

(13.) For the legend, see David Gutierrez, The Augustinians in the Middle Ages 1256-1356, trans. Arthur J. Ennis (Villanova: Augustinian Historical Institute, Villanova University, 1984), 106-07; The original thirteenth/fourteenth century panel is preserved in Sant'Agostino, Palermo, and is double-framed with a more recent Madonna and Child image.

(14.) Clemens M. Henze, Mater de Perpetuo Succursu (Bonn: Collegium Iosephinum, 1926), 88, citing Pedro Chacon, Inscriptiones et Epitaphia (1569-1576) Bibl. Apostolica Vaticano Mss. Chigiana, I. V. 167, fol. 253-255, refers to the facade inscription. Ferrero, Nuestra Senora, 88-90, 124-130, discusses whether the name antedates this inscription. In my opinion, the real terminus post quem for the naming of the image should be Francisco del Sodo's description: " una imagine chiamata la Madonna del Soccorso" (without the word "Perpetual") in 1575. See Compendio delle Chiese di Roma, Cod. Vat. Lat. 11911, fol. 229, in Ferrero, Nuestra Senora, 107.

(15.) Attilio B. Langeli, La Scrittura del Italiano (Bologna: Il Mulino, 2000), 29. Sixteenth-century Latin documents use "Sancta Maria del Suchurso" or "Sancte Mariae Succursus," showing a similar variation. Professor Domenico De Martino of the Accademia della Crusca, Florence confirmed that the spelling was not uncommon, especially from Florence and northward, and that it was more prevalent in the sixteenth-and seventeenth-centuries than after 1700 (verbal opinion). Thanks also to Professor Alessandro Gentili for his help with this etymological issue.

(16.) "Carteggio di Michelangelo," IV (1 gennaio 1.4.MCLX.1551), La Biblioteca della fonti-artische, Scuola Normale di Pisa, [consulted September, 20, 2006].

(17.) In general, see Victor Lasareff, "Studies in the Iconography of the Virgin," Art Bulletin 20 (1938): 26-65; Mirjana Tatic-Djuric, "Iconographie de la Vierge de Passion. Genese du dogme et des symbols," in De Culta mariano saeculis XII-XV, Acta Congressus mariologici mariani internationalis Romae 1975, VI (Rome, 1981): 135-169; Irina Dovgal, "The iconography of the Virgin of the Passion in Post-Byzantine and Russian Art," in International Conference on Byzantine Art, Athens, 12/2006 (Athens: 2007); Matthew J. Milliner, "The Virgin of the Passion: Development, Dissemination and Afterlife of a Byzantine Icon Type" (PhD diss., Princeton University, 2011).

(18.) Mario Cattapan, "Nuovi documenti riguardanti pittori cretesi dal 1300-1500," in Atti del II Congresso Internationale Cristologico, II (Athens, 1965); Mario Cattapan, "I pittori Andrea e Nicolo Rizo da Candia," Thesaurismata (Venice) 10 (1973): 237-282.

(19.) Cattapan, "Andrea e Nicolo Rizo da Candia," 237-282. This icon was stolen by the Turks from a female monastery dedicated to the Virgin Mary, a center of Greek resistance against Turkish Rule, at Kera in eastern Crete. Legend has it that the image flew home by itself three times. At present, there is a Marian icon in the convent.

(20.) For Cretan Post-Byzantine art, see Maria Georgopoulu, "Late Medieval Crete and Venice: an appropriation of Byzantine heritage," Art Bulletin 77 (1995): 479-496; Maria S. Calo Mariani, La Pittura del Cinquecento e Seicento in Terra di Bari (Bari: Universita degli Studi, 1969).

(21.) Panels from Ca' Beltramini, Venice (now in the Princeton Art Museum, N.J.), Galleria Estense (Modena), Galleria Nazionale (Parma), Museo Civico (Trieste), as well as the "Virgin Amolyntos" (Imaculata), Santa Maria del Vado, Ferrara. See Homer Eaton Keyes, "The Princeton Madonna and Some Related Paintings, American Journal of Archaeology, 17 (1913): 210-222; Other panels of this type come from Tuscany or Umbria: Madonna della Passione, #3886 in the Uffizi Gallery (Florence) which can be traced back to San Girolamo, Fiesole; the Madonna della Passione, Archepiscopal Museum, Assisi. See also, Milliner, "The Virgin of the Passion," 96-100.

(22.) Ferrero, Story of an Icon, 122-23. See numerous examples in Maria Vassilaki, ed., Mother of God Representations of the Virgin in Byzantine Art (Milan: Skira Editore, 2000).

(23.) Although the Immaculate Conception only became dogma in 1854, the imagery evolved over centuries: see Mirella Levi d'Ancona, The Iconography of the Immaculate Conception in the Middle Ages and Early Renaissance (New York: College Art Association Monographs, 1957); Gertrud Schiller, Ikonographie der Christliche Kunst, Vol. 4, 2 (Gutersloher:Verlagshaus Gerd Mohn, 1980), 154-178; Howard Hibbard, "Guido Reni's Painting of the Immaculate Conception," Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 28 (1969): 19-32. Hibbard proposes an increase in number of images in the 1620s after support by Pope Urban VII Barberini.

(24.) Hibbard, "Guido Reni's painting," 26.

(25.) George Kaftal, Iconography of the Saints in the Painting of Northern East Italy (Florence, Sansoni, 1978), 774-787; Roberto Tollo, San Nicola da Tolentino nell'arte: Corpus Iconografico, Vol. I-III, (Milan: Federico Motta Editore, 2005); Edward Garesche, "St. Nicholas of Tolentino," The Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol. 11. (New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1911). [Consulted March 6, 2011] There is a strong connection between Nicola da Tolentino and Nicholas of Myra (Bari), who is usually represented in Bishop's robe and hat with three balls or bags of gold or three children, since his miracles concern saving maidens or young children. Nicola da Tolentino's parents prayed to Saint Nicholas for a child; he appeared to them, and announced the birth of son to be called Nicholas.

(26.) Barbara F. Harvey, Monastic Dress in the Middles Ages: Precept and Practice (Canterbury: William Urry Memorial Trust, 1988).

(27.) For his appearance and attributes in art, see George Kaftal, Iconography of the Saints, 143-150; Marie Gildas, "St. Bernard of Clairvaux." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 2. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1907. <>. [consulted March 7, 2011]

(28.) The unusual element here is the mitre, but its presence could reflect his office as abbot. On the iconography, see Giovanni Brizzi, "Iconografia del beato Bernardo Tolomei. Prime Ricerche," in Saggi e Ricerche ne VII centenario della nascita del B. Bernardo Tolomei (Monteoliveto Maggiore, Siena, 1972), 131-180. He identifies 218 seventeenth to twentieth century images; see also, John T. Spike, "The Blessed Bernard Tolomei Interceding for the Cessation of the Plague in Siena," The J. Paul Getty Journal 15 (1987): 111-116.

(29.) The conservation was conducted by Mark E. Wittl of the Virginia Art Conservation and Restoration, LLC, Roanoke, Virginia, assisted by intern Amanda Kuhnly. The canvas was cleaned, relined, and previous old restorations and in-painting removed. It was not possible to execute a carbon-14 dating analysis.

(30.) "Journalism," Encyclopedia of Italian Literary Studies, I, edited by Gaetana Marrone, Paolo Puppa, Luca Somigli, (New York: Taylor Francis Group, 2007), 978. "Newspapers," Encyclopedia Britannica, 1109-10. The Corriere della Sera increased its circulation by 1911 and was read as a national newspaper by 1917.

(31.) Important studies on Marian icons in Rome include Eunice Howe, "The Miraculous Madonna in fifteenth-century Roman painting, " in Explorations in Renaissance Culture 8/9 (1984): 1-21; Georges Gharib, Le icone mariane: storia e culto (Rome: Citta Nova, 1987); Joanna Weissenburger, Romische Mariengnadenbilder 1463-1590: Neue altare fur alten imagen (PhD diss., Univ. Heidelburg, 2007).

(32.) On the church and icon, see Ottavio Panciroli, I Tesori nascosti nell'alma citta di Roma (Rome, 1600), 622-624; Corcezio Carocci, Il Pellegrino guidato alla visita delle Immagine piu insigni della B.V. Maria in Roma, I (Rome, 1729), 373-391; Ernesto Bresciani, Cenni storici sull'antica e prodigiosa immagine della Madonna del perpetuo soccorso gia venerate in San Matteo Merulana (Rome, 1866/ reprint 1877); Mariano Armellini, Le Chiese di Roma dal Secolo IV al XIX (Rome: Vatican, 1891); Cinquant'anni dalla prima esposizione dell'antica e prodigiosa immagine della Madonna del Perpetuo Soccorso (Rome, 1919); Clemens M. Henze, "San Matteo in Merulana," in Miscellanea Francesco Ehrle II (Rome, 1924), 404-14; Clemens M. Henze, Mater de Perpetuo Succursu. Prodigiosae Iconis Marialis ita nuncupatae mongraphia (Bonn, 1926); Ferrero, La Nuestra Senora (see note 1); Carlos Alonso, "El Convento Agustino de S. Mateo in Merulana de Roma," Spicilegium Historicum Congregationis Sanctis simi Redemptoris 54 (2006): 151-184.

(33.) Richard Krautheimer, Rome: Profile of a City 312-1308 (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1980), 258. The convent began as a titulus in the second century and was listed in the Roman Synod in 499, but its cardinalate was suppressed in 600. After the Napoleonic suppression in 1798, it was absorbed into a large estate, Villa Gaetani, which was destroyed when the Stazione Termini was built. Using the old maps as a guide, it seems to have been located adjacent to ruins of a Roman structure midway down Via Merulana.

(34.) For documentation, see Alonso, 154-155, using bulls of the Order, Bullarium Ordinis Sancti Augustini, Regesta, IV (Rome, 1991), 33, n.59. This resolves an old debate concerning when the Augustinians first received the convent. See also Shelley E. Zuraw, "The Efficacious Madonna in Quattrocento Rome: Spirituality in the Service of Papal Power," in Visions of Holiness: Art and Devotion in Renaissance Italy (Georgia Museum of Art: University of Georgia Press, 2001), 103-04. As part of her discussion of Papal control of Marian devotion, Zuraw discusses a procession with Pope Alexander VI Borgia, cardinals, and clergy to install the icon. Contrary to Zuraw, n. 23, the tabella inscription does not mention the procession (see below).

(35.) See copies in BAV lat.11871 (Brutius), BAV lat.11885 (Turilus); BAV lat.11905; Bartolomeo Mellini, Delle Antichita di Roma 1650-1667, fol. 170r; reprinted in Ferrero, Story of an Icon, 131-134.

(36.) Cattapan, "Nuovi documenti," 362-370, after extensive analysis of guides and manuscript sources, attributes it to the prior, and dates it 1499; Ferrero suggests it may be slightly later.

(37.) Ferrero, Nuestra Senora, 133.The exact wording of the Virgin's demand has varied as later authors embroidered the legend. Based on Bresciani (1866), Zuraw reports that the Virgin requested placement, "between her own church and that of her son."

(38.) Zuraw, "Efficacious Madonna," 103-104.

(39.) Fra Mariano da Firenze, Itinerarium Urbis Romae, ed. P. Enrico Bulletti, Rome (1931), 166. "San Matteo: ecclesia est sancti evangelisti Matthaei, noviter a Leone X facta titulus cardinalis, in qua habitant fratres Heremitani sancti Augustini, ad quam nuper imago Virginis, de insula candiae furata, cum miraculorum gloria translate est ...," (reprinted in Ferrero, Nuestra Senora, Appendix III, 205-206); Vaughan Hart and Peter Hicks, eds., Palladio's Rome (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2006), 143.

(40.) Vincenzo Forcella, Iscrizioni delle chiese e d'altri edificii di Roma dal secolo XI fino ai giorni nostri, X (Rome, 1869), 445-456.

(41.) Alonso, "San Mateo," 158.

(42.) Bresciani, Cenni Storici, 10-21.

(43.) Ludwig von Pastor, The History of the Popes from the Close of the Middle Ages, XX (London: Rutledge, Kegan & Paul, 1952), 594.

(44.) Henze cites the Du Perac-Lafrery map of 1577, which shows the same location from the opposite direction. As Henze and Ferrero noted, the orientation of church and convent complex was altered since the convent faced the new avenue.

(45.) Alonso, "San Mateo," 158-159.

(46.) Panciroli, I Tesori nascosti, 223; Pompilio Totti, Ritratto di Roma

Moderna (Rome, 1638), 464.

(47.) Marcello Fagiolo dell'Arco and Maria L. Madonna, eds., Roma 1300-1875: L'Arte degli Anni Santi (1985), 178-196; Jack Freiberg, "The Lateran Patronage of Gregory XIII and the Holy Year 1575," Zeitschrift fur Kunstgeschichte 54 (1991): 66-87; Alessandro Zuccari, "La Pittura a Roma attorno ai giubilei del 1550 e del 1575, in Gloria Fossi," in La Storia dei Giubilei (Rome: BNL Edizioni, 1998);

(48.) Richard Ingersoll, "Ritual Space in Renaissance Rome," (PhD. diss., University of California, Berkeley, 1985), 522.

(49.) On Gregory's life and works, see Pastor, History of the Popes, vols. 19-20, trans. Ralph F. Kerr (London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner, 1930).

(50.) See Stephen Ostrow, "Cappella Gregoriana" in, La Basilica di San Pietro in Vaticano II, ed. Antonio Pinelli (Modena: Panini Editore, 2000), 666-676; Marcia B. Hall, Artistic Centers of the Renaissance: Rome, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005), 258-268.

(51.) For the main altar, see Henze, Mater de Perpetuo Succursu, 48-49, based on Benedetto Mellini, Dell'Antichita di Roma, Cod. Vat. Lat. 11 905, c. 1650; Antonio Brutius, Theatrum Romanae Urbis, III, & XVI, Cod. Vat Lat 11 871, Cod. Vat. Lat. 11885. The votives were recorded in the ecclesiastical visit of October 15, 1629.

(52.) Ferrero, Nuestra Senora, 93.

(53.) On Lelli, see Giovanni Baglione, Le Vite di Pittori, Scultori, Architetti e Intagliatori dal Pontificato di Gregorio XIII nel 1572, fino ai tempi di Papa Urbano VIII-1642 (Naples, 1733).

(54.) Despite continued praise in guidebooks, documents from 16611739 show that the monks lived in modest circumstances, continually reporting dilapidated living conditions and requesting repairs. The icon drew fewer pilgrims, which then decreased revenues for the convent.

(55.) On the crowning, see M. DeJonge, Orbis Mariane. Le Madones Courronees de Rome (Paris: Editions P. Tequie, 1967), 294-297.

(56.) For a seventeenth century variant in which the archangel carries a Latin cross and the seventeenth or eighteenth century copy, in which the faces and hands are westernized in a Baroque manner, see Ferrero, Story of an Icon, 78 and 84.

(57.) For the diffusion of copies of the Maria Salus Populi, see Noreen, Visual Resources, 19-37.

(58.) On the relevant decrees of the Council of Trent, see Norman P. Tanner, ed., Decrees of the Ecumenical Councils (Washington DC: Georgetown University Press, 1990) 2: 774-75.

(59.) Gabriel Paleotti, Discorso intorno alle imagini sacre e profane, Bologna, 1594 (Ristampa anastatica con premessa di Paolo Prodi, Bologna: Forni, 1990), 275. The table of contents lists various iconographic types of the Madonna and Child, but the text was unfinished. It also had limited circulation, so its direct influence may have been limited. See Brenda Dee Schildgen, "Cardinal Paleotti and the Discorso intorno alle Imagini Sacre e Profane," in Sacred Possessions: Collecting Italian Religious Art 1500-1900 (Los Angeles: Getty Publications, 2011), 8-15.

(60.) Tollo, San Nicola da Tolentino I, 33-34; Fabio Bisogni, "Gli Inizii dell'iconografia di San Nicola da Tolentino e il cappellone," in San Nicola, Tolentino, le Marche, Tolentino (1987), 255-296; Herbert Dellwig, "Le chiese degli ordini mendicanti nelle marche: tipologia e forma," in Arte e spiritualita negli ordini mendicanti: gli Agostini e il Cappellone di San Nicola da Tolentino (Rome: Centro Studi 'Agostino Trape,' 1992), 71-74; Louise Marshall, "Manipulating the Sacred: Image and Plague in Renaissance Italy," Renaissance Quarterly 47 (1994): 485-532. Her view, repeated by El-Hanany, that Nicola was seen as a plague saint only within Augustinian circles, would reinforce the argument for an Augustinian provenance of the Maria del Sochorso Altarpiece.

(61.) For instance, Giuseppe Maria Crespi's painting, The Blessed Bernard Tolomei Intereceding for the Cessation of the Plague in Siena, c. 1735. See Spike, The Blessed Bernardo Tolomei, 112-113.

(62.) Carla Bernardini, ed., La Pinacoteca Nazionale di Bologna Catalogo Generalev(Bologna: Nuova Alfa Editoriale, 1987), 149.

(63.) See Catherine Pugliese, "Guido Reni's Pallione del Voto and the 1630 Plague," Art Bulletin LXXVII (1995): 402-12.

(64.) Ferrero, Nuestra Senora, 160-161, lists only eight sites north of Naples: Bologna, Cori (Lazio), Genova, Montalcino, Pietra Ligure, Pistoia, and San Severo. In Tuscany (in approximate chronological order): Montecarlo (Lucca/Pescia), Collegiata of Sant'Andrea, 1483; Florence, S. Spirito, Velluti Chapel, 1470s-80s; Sansepolcro (Arezzo) Sant' Agostino, Madonna del Soccorso Altar,1502; Minucciano (Lucca), Eremo della Beata Vergine del Perpetuo Sorcorso,1500-55; Lucca, San Frediano Altar of Madonna del Soccorso; 1510; Monte San Savino (Arezzo), Sanctuario Madonna del Soccorso, 1523; Montalcino (Siena), Chiesa di Santa Maria del Soccorso, 1553; Scrofiano, (Sinalunga, Siena) Church of Santa Maria del Soccorso, 1550-1600; Prato, Sanctuario del Madonna del Soccorso, 1575; Pistoia, Sanctuario Maria Ss. Del Soccorso, Church of Santa Liberata, 1500s); Roccalbegna (Grossetto), Church of Santa Maria del Soccorso, 1500s; Scarlino (Grossetto), Chapel of the Madonna del Soccorso, 1500s; Montopoli Val d'Arno (Pisa), Church of the Madonna del Soccorso, 1606; Sasso d'Ombrone (Cinigiano), Sanctuario della Madonna del Soccorso, 1600s. The Santa Maria del Soccorso in Livorno, founded in response to a cholera epidemic in 1835, is excluded from this study because of its late date. For the smaller, rural churches, see; For the Lucchese region, see "Sacrum Luce," a project of the University of Udine: [consulted May 21, 2011]

(65.) On the earliest images, see El-Hanany, Beating the Devil, 25-38.

(66.) The church in Bussolengo was altered in the late 1500s when the adjacent monastery was built and completely renovated in the 1830s and 1962-65. The icon is a replica from Sant'Alfonso nell'Esquilino. See [consulted May 15, 2011]

(67.) This case involves two merchants who discovered an image of the Virgin the city walls and set up a shrine to profit from it. When the image did not perform, they fought over replacing it with a new one that would be more efficacious. See Mario Fanti, Giancarlo Roversi, Il Sanctuario della Madonna del Soccorso nel Borgo di San Pietro in Bologna (Bologna: Tipologia la Grafica Emiliana, 1965); Nicholas Terpstra, Lay Confraternities and Civic Religion in Renaissance Bologna (Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1995), 209-210. Fanti finds that the title "Madonna del Soccorso" dates from the original foundation of the confraternity in 1520, while Terpstra states she was renamed after the plague miracle in 1527.

(68.) Fanti, Il Sanctuario della Madonna del Soccorso, 37-42. Pope Gregory XIII's indulgences (August 1576-1577) are preserved in the Archivio di Stato, Bologna, Compagnia della B.V.del Soccorso, 1/6334.

(69.) Gino Marchi, La Rotonda di Rovigo (Vicenza: Neri Pozzi Editore, 1967); Andrew Hopkins, Baldassare Longhena (Milan: Electa, 2006).

(70.) For the ex-church and convent, now a university student residence and exhibition space, see [consulted May 10, 2011]; Marcello Brusegan, La grande guida dei monumenti di Venezia: storia, arte, segreti, leggende, curiosita (Roma: Newton & Compton, 2005).

(71.) "Costermano" [consulted April 23, 2011]

(72.) There are fifteen Augustinian convents in Lombardy (three within Milan proper), but none are dedicated to Sancta Maria del Soccorso. See [consulted March 25, 2011]

(73.) Stefano Latuada, Descrizione di Milano e delle Fabrriche piu conspicui che si trovano in questa Metrpolitana, Vol. V (Porta Nuova: Comasina, 1738), 352-355; "l'Eta dei Borromei (1559-1630)," ed. Fondazione Treccani delgi Alfieri per la Storia di Milano, X (Milan, 1957), 416-417; Mario Pogliani, "Contributo per una bibliografia delle fondazioni religiose di Milano," Ricerche storiche sulla Chiesa Ambrosiana XIV (1985): 157-281. Some S. Maria del Soccorso documents (dated 1430-1786) are extant in the Archivio di Stato, Milano.

(74.) See [consulted May 20, 2011]

(75.) The parish church of San Bartolomeo in Olera, north of Bergamo in Alzano Lombardo, also houses a large polyptych by Cima da Conegliano dated 1488. The icon and polyptych can be documented in the church before 1575 when Carlo Borromeo visited, and probably by 1547. See [consulted March 20, 2011]

(76.) See [consulted May 20, 2011]

(77.) Alessandra Brambilla, "Campione d'Italia. Santa Maria dei Ghirli," in Il Rinascimento nelle terre ticinesi. Da Bramantino a Bernardino Luini. Itinerari, eds. Giovanni Agosti, Jacopo Stoppa, and Marco Tanzi (Milan: Officina Libraria, 2010). [consulted March 21, 2011]

(78.) See Arturo R. Della Casa, Memorie storiche del santuario della B. Vergine del Soccorso, (Bologna: Tipografia L. Parma, 1924); Paolo G. Papavassiliou, Il Sacro Monte di Ossuccio: guida alle cappelle (Milan: Mondadori, 1996); Daniele Pescarmona, "Precisazioni storiche sul Sacro Monte di Ossuccio (II)," Sacri Monti 1 (2007), 399-411.
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Date:Jan 1, 2012
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