CLOISTER OF SANTA MARIA NUOVA
HISTORY AND DESCRIPTION
At the end of the left side of the church of Santa Maria Nuova, through a nineteenth-century grating, a ladder reaches the entrance to the small cloister incorrectly called Lombard. Considered part of an early Christian building (predates the present church), some of the structural elements of the cloister resemble the forms of two other monuments of the Lombard era of the city, the cloister is known and named as “Lombard cloister of Santa Maria Nuova.” The rectangular cloister, (discovered in 1954 and restored beginning in the ‘60s until the ‘80s) has only two of the four of its original sides. Three groups of five arches with pillars make up the oldest side leaning against the church. The brick arches date back to the XI century. The architectural motifs of the arches of the cloister of Santa Maria Nuova look like the steeples of Santa Maria della Cella and San Sisto at Porta Romana. It is a very different design of the side opposite the entrance, consisting of three large round-arched Romanesque arches supported by stone pillars resting on a wall. Over the centuries, the area was even used as a mass grave, as it turned out by the numerous skeletons found during the restoration: this and other misuses ruined the sacristy and the old parsonage. Only with a providential renovation by the local parish in the ’60s and ’70s, next to the cloister, they were able to save and renovate the complex, which now also includes the small Teatro Don Mario Gargiuli (1923-1966). Currently, the cloister and in particular the brick roof of the cloister and the church are the subject of restoration. The cloister is not currently accessible.
History of a finding and the Feast of Saint Salvatore.
The cloister’s history is similar to the history of the church of Santa Maria and the history of the triptych of the Savior. In the Church of Santa Maria Nuova, on the altar to the left side, there is the famous triptych depicting the Blessed Savior, flanked by the Virgin and St. John, in the back, St. Peter and St. Paul and St. Michael. The work, painted on leather, (whose exact date is difficult) can be traced with certainty to the early thousands. According to the historian Orioli, the trunk where the image was found, was hidden during the siege of Viterbo by Federico II (1243) when he was raiding the countryside and the rural churches. The stolen wooden paintings were then used as shields for his soldiers. The discovery of the miraculous image of the St. Salvatore is well told in an ancient manuscript: “ Nell’anno dello Signore nostro Iesu Cristo 1283 a li …. del marzo Ioseffo de lo Croco, Ioanne de la Cepolla aranno co li boi de Scipione de l’Annio ne lo campo de Iulio de la Chirichera, li boi se restettero e no volerno ire nante e battuti e pongolati se engenocchiorno uno provò co la cerrata e trovorno che l’arato era entoppato ne una preta granne. Scavorno co la zappa e conubero che era una cassa de preta co lo cuperto pure de preta… e dentro c’era una emajene de lo Salvatore che l’annettero a pigliare sei preti di San Maria e l’altri preti tutti l’encontrorno, fora della città co li Comuni che la metterno ne la ditta chiesa vicino la sua residentia. Io prete Ercole Camerlingo ho recopiata questa memoria che stava ne li ricordi che no si potia più lejere”. (In March, 1283, Ioseffo do lo Croco and Ioanne de la Cepolla, two local peasents, were plowing their fields when their oxen suddenly stopped and kneeled down to the ground. When the farmers examined why, they found buried in the dirt the old wooden painting. They immediately brought it to the church). Important links between Santa Maria Nuova, the City and the people of Viterbo were created by the devotion to the painting the Blessed Sacrament Savior, discovered in 1283. The historian Feliciano Bussi reports that the manner of the discovery was recorded by posterity in the Book of Reforms of the City for the years 1716 and 1717, two peasants, who in March 1283 were plowing in Chirichera and had to stop work for the oxen. They knelt, digging with hoes, the ploughmen discovered a stone chest with a beautiful image of the Savior inside, it was a Roman style triptych made of leather, probably from the beginning of the 13th century. (during the Byzantine era), it was probably a copy of the image of the Savior kept in the Lateran. Several assumptions were made as to why the icon was buried at Chirichera, but the extraordinary finding and way in which it was found caused a stir of excitement in the population Six priests of Santa Maria Nuova went to take the picture to bring it into the city; all the representatives of the clergy and the city hall were waiting for the painting in FAUL. The painting was then brought in procession to Santa Maria Nuova, (which not only was the church where the town kept its own acts, but it was also the home of the Peasants Guild, one of the most famous of time). In the Church was built a chapel and the image was placed in a marble temple; the City took over the patronage of the chapel, for whose maintenance it decided should be an annual paid contribution until the 19th century (other donations were delivered at different times later). In addition, the City officially participated in all the rites in honor of the Savior, who acquired a significant importance in the religious and social life of the city: August 15 the City Hall priest celebrated Mass at the altar of the Savior, and blessed the Standard bearer and the Seniors who attended in full regalia. The festival was very important, in 1344 and 1469 the municipal statutes made solemn processions on the eve of the Assumption, establishing an order that the guilds had to observe. The procession was opened by the guild of the Peasants, responsible for the finding followed by the clergy of the city, the mayor, 8 townspeople, the prefect, nobles, judges, doctors and solicitors, all wearing rich garments with their insignia. The crafts of special merchants, Apothecaries, Locksmiths, cobblers, butchers, and fishmongers, masons, hosts and innkeepers, sheperds, Bricklayers and Stonemasons, Weavers, and Barbers, all carried a candle according to their respective statutes and which was then donated to the Church. The procession passed through all the districts of the town and went on for many hours: to lessen the disruption in the town, in 1683, the authorities decided to alternate the celebration between Pianoscarano and St. Faustino every year. The triptych of the Saviour was placed in a rich and elaborate cart similar to the one that honors St. Rose and was carried by 12 facchini (porters) ; it was customary for the townspeople to touch their clothes and linen to the miraculous image for a blessing: this devotional practice was picked up in a few years and continues to take place with a large turnout of devotees on the occasion of the Feast of the blessed Savior which is celebrated on the second Sunday of May. Processions were also held on other extraordinary events that were important to.
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