THE CATHEDRAL OF SANTA MARIA ASSUNTA
The facade of the Cathedral was built, in its lower part, by the master Giovanni Pisano between 1284 and 1297. His sculptures constitute a real monumental statuary cycle, which responds to a unitary concept and a precise iconographic program, aimed at exaltation and glorification of the Virgin: the characters represented are Prophets, Patriarchs, Sibyls and Philosophers, all figures that announced in ancient times the coming of the Madonna and her divine motherhood. For conservation reasons, during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries the original sculptures were replaced by copies and are currently on display in the Metropolitan Opera Museum.
SPEDAL OF SANTA MARIA DELLA SCALA – CHURCH OF SANTA MARIA ASSUNTA
This is the place where the faith and charity of the Gospel were concretely expressed in the service to pilgrims, the sick and orphans, also dedicated to the Virgin. Located in front of the Cathedral, from the 12th century it bears the nickname “della Scala”, precisely because of its location in front of the steps of the main church of the city. Already certified in the 11th century, it was established by the canons of the Cathedral of Siena and was one of the oldest European hospitals and the first xenodochi for the reception of travelers. Today, having exhausted its health functions, it is one of the most important cultural centers of the city, which unfolds in a vast space where it is possible to retrace a millenary history.
COLLEGIATE OF SANTA MARIA IN PROVENZANO
The cornerstone of the Marian cult is the Insigne Collegiate Church of Santa Maria in Provenzano, one of the churches most dear to the Sienese, a seventeenth-century sanctuary built to house the much venerated terracotta half-length sculpture of the Blessed Virgin Mary, still placed above the altar. greater. Originally placed in an open-air tabernacle, along a street in the Provenzano district, already during the sixteenth century miraculous episodes began to be attributed to the sacred image, the first of which began with a ‘misfortune’: in the period in which Siena was under the Spanish domination a drunken soldier fired an arquebus shot at the sacred image, leaving its face and head intact, while the weapon exploded in the face of the soldier who died instantly. Immediately after the episode, the image was defined as prodigious and believers began to come from all over the city and the Sienese countryside to receive the graces of the Virgin.
BASILICA OF THE SERVANTS OF MARY
Built starting in the 13th century, the Basilica dei Servi di Maria is particularly dear to the Sienese, for the Marian devotion that unites the Order of the Servants and the city of Siena itself. This Order was founded by seven Florentine saints who, after leaving their possessions and their families, retired to Mount Senario, far from Florence, to devote themselves completely to prayer and penance. Their example was contagious, so much so that the model of life of the Servites began to spread, even reaching Siena in 1250. Here it was immediately welcomed: in addition to the geographical proximity to Florence, the place of foundation, the landing was natural for the fort bond that the city has always had with the Virgin. One of the main rules of the Order established the dedication of each church to Mary, with the exception of particular impediments; in the Sienese case, the construction of the sacred building in the place of the oldest church of San Clemente provided for not having to comply with this rule, but the Servit.