Chiesa di Santa Maria di Provenzano

( Santa Maria in Provenzano, Siena )

Santa Maria in Provenzano, or the Insigne Collegiata di Santa Maria in Provenzano, is a late-Renaissance-Baroque style, Roman Catholic, collegiate church in Piazza Provenzano Salvani, in the Terza Camollia, just southwest of the basilica of San Francesco, in the city of Siena, region of Tuscany, Italy. This Marian shrine was built around a 14th-century terracotta icon of the Madonna, which was credited with miracles. The Palio of Siena takes place on the day of veneration of this Marian devotion.

The church was consecrated on October 16, 1611 by the archbishop Camillo Borghesi. The image, which originally was in an aedicule on a wall next to a house, was carried by a procession (translated) into the church on this day. The event was painted by Taddeo Gregori. This painting is presently in the Sacristy of the Collegiata.[1] The procession's members included the widowed former grand-duchess Cristina of Lorraine and the reigning Grand-Duchess Maria Maddalena d'Austria.

A number of omens and events had fortified faith in the power of the 14th-century icon. Brandano, il pazzo di Cristo (the madman of Christ), had prophesied before 1555:

Siena, I see your evils and cannot heal you, because God is too angry with you, Siena! ... Run the Signoria through the sieve, or it will go into the brothel! Siena! ... Send your daughters barefoot to do penance in Provenzano, because a great drowning flood nears... Senesi! Your well-being rests with Provenzano and our Majestic Queen who has guarded Siena, and will protect her forever


Tradition holds that the lackluster faith of the Sienese led the Madonna to quit her protection, resulting in the ultimate subjugation of Siena by the Holy Roman Emperor and his Florentine allies. The Madonna di Provenzano terracotta was shattered. This was said to have resulted from either an errant or impertinent shot by a Spanish soldier in the occupying army of the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V. According to legend, the event caused a change on the soldier. He either died or repented from the event.

Fifty years later, this neighborhood was considered one of the most morally insalubrious corners of town. An old prostitute from the neighborhood prayed to the icon of the Madonna, and overnight her ulcerous lesion was healed.[3]

The image became a destination for devotion of the faithful. Soon the church relented and in 1594 commissioned construction of a church as a shrine for the icon; the architect Flaminio Del Turco was hired to design it. The Medici family were among the patrons who raised funds to build the new church. In 1806 the image was covered with a coating of silver, which was done out of respect and a desire to preserve the icon. Through conservation of the work, the silver has been partially revealed.

In 1634 Pope Urban VIII named this as a collegiate church with its own chapter of canons.[4]

In 1681, the image was solemnly crowned with a Papal Bull from Pope Innocent XI

^ La Madonna di Provenzano e le origini della sua chiesa: notizie storiche, by Francesco Bandini Piccolomini, (1895), page 88-89. ^ Siena! … io vedo i tuoi mali e non posso rimediarvi, perché Iddio è troppo adirato con te, Siena! … metti la Signoria nel crivello, sinnò andrai in bordello! Siena! … Manda le tue figliuole scalze a far penitenza in Provenzano, perché t’è vicina a venire addosso una gran piena che t’affogherà… Senesi! Il vostro benessere è riposto in Provenzano e l’alta Regina che ha guardata Siena, la guarderà in eterno. ^ Piccolomini, pp. 66-67. ^ Collegiata Santa Maria di Provenzano Official site.
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