The Oratory of St. Mary the Virgin of the Cross in the Temple

[cml_media_alt id='286']10[/cml_media_alt]This little church has entered by force in my research to understand where was derived the name of the “Compagnia de ‘Blacks’. It seems that this was the original headquarters of the Society a few steps from the Tabernacle on the corner with Via de ‘Macci where was born the Society itself. The Compagnia de ‘Blacks was in fact a sub-company of the Society of Saint Mary of the Cross at the Temple.

From research carried out it can be inferred that originally it was a hospital Templar site in Via del Tempio, original name of the time. When the Templar Order was abolished by Clement V in 1307, the site remained unused.

Following the formation of the Society of Saint Mary of the Cross at the Temple on March 25, 1347 this space was entrusted to them, the name of the company derives from the church eliminated the ending Virgin name.

This oratory was destined to prayer and the meetings of the Society, however, was not public and there could only be accessed as members of the Company or with their permission. Pending the construction of the church in the Temple outside the city walls was here that the condemned could pray for the last time before being led to the Meadows of Justice where the judgment was executed.

Its architecture is suited to the period, the facade looks simple with irregular stones arranged filaretto, the center worked on a wooden door where you recognize the two upper polilobi two coats of arms, one of the company and one of the Torrigiani family.

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inside the Oratory

Perpendicularly above the door there is a rose window with square windows and the side of the door two windows with semicircular arch protected by wrought iron grates original. Also on the side of the door at the base of the windows, there are two original rings wrought iron, made into rings, which were used to place the banners of the Company. The façade is also characterized by a particular item. It is an unconventional overhanging roof, not in use at the time. The roof is in nullifying the Fioretti description (E) to identify this Oratory as the official seat of the Company (E p. 76).

The interior of the Oratory today appears as a rectangular room with a single nave with a tiled floor and covered by a roof truss.
The two side walls are two doors with doorposts and lintel stone that today closing two closets. These two ports were probably access to the side buildings that were part of the hospital. Along the walls going to the bottom there are six niches probably designed to bring it to the Enlightenment, perhaps dating back to the use of the Oratory as a hospital at the time of the Templars. Always in the side walls in the bottom of the Oratory are two plates. The first in 1428, when an ancestor of Michelangelo Buonarroti left a legacy to the Brotherhood for the restructuring of the hospital (previously shown Targa).

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Fresco over ogee

The fresco over ogee of the back wall dates back to 1928 and is a celebration of the Brotherhood wanted by the then parish priest of the nearby church of St. Joseph, Msgr. Luigi d’Indico (C). The fresco presents the background the walls of Florence, under the Madonna del Giglio in glory between two angels (Madonna del Giglio as claimed by the Fioretti (E) was Our Lady who inspired the young men to form the Company (E p. 87) ). Two processions meet, the one coming from the right is of the confreres, the left procession is headed by Lorenzo the Magnificent. At the front of the procession left Pope Eugene IV speaks with the Baptist. At the front of the right San Francisco parade shows the Virgin Savonarola. Always in the right procession you see the portrait of Benito Mussolini.

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fresco drawing

The fresco is badly damaged by the flood in Florence in 1966 and now appears as pictured above and in the drawing below if you can appreciate the original image.

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Lunette mosaic

A small mosaic with the face of Christ on the right wall executed in 1923 remembers the name of Monsignor D’Indico who was the one who revived the Society and indeed a painting in the middle of the left wall commemorates the rebirth of the Company as Brotherhood in 1912.

You must make an aside on Oratory internal plant that today looks very different from the original. Originally there were two just entered rooms, one to the right and to the left and the roof of the two rooms was a walkway immediately below the canopy. The two windows then served to give light to two rooms, and the canopy to give the Oratory light. He describes this plant also Richa (G) reminiscent of a room to the right entering used for secret meetings and a left where the company gave audiences to the poor and to those who turned to them (A p. 15). The arrangement is also there testified by Dott. Giampiero Cioni, perhaps the last living at having been part of the Company at a very early age (Dr. Cioni has issued us a tale inserted article concerning the history of the Company). This property was probably demolished after the flood of 1966. As evidence of this architecture is also the dell’Uccelli reading (A) with respect to the assets of the Company (A p. 29).

In the register of assets owned by the Company Book I ° hospitals c.4 year 1548 is located between the properties: “A winged house in the above holds capelin for his living. The property was Mona Bartolomea woman Tanino Bartolomeo from Monte Cuccoli and it was left to the Society. ” This house refers to land-roof in Via San Giuseppe 12, that is to the left side of the Oratory of St Mary the Virgin in the Temple of the Cross. The fact that it is specified as well as winged even above it reinforces the suspicion fact, who along Via San Giuseppe would stop to observe notice that this house has an extension over the Oratory, that is, overlaps with a wing on the roof of the Oratory. During the renovations of this wing they were found the first two steps of a spiral staircase that descended vertically in the left corner entering the Oratory. Considering it was for residential purposes of the chaplain that would make sense because the would direct access al’Oratorio. The same scale as well as reach the room on the left is also opened on the landing in 1912 after the reopening of the Society was used to sing Christmas novenas, as indeed reminds us Dr. Cioni for being part of the chorus.

Also be said that in 1428, thanks to donations of the ancestor by Michelangelo, Simone Buonarroti, which we already talked about, that building is integrated with the hospital that Company staged in the left most and right Oratory itself (Bs p. 40) .


  • A

Della Compagnia di S. Maria della Croce al Tempio – Lezione recitata il 27 gennaio 1861 alla Società Colombaria – Gio. Battista Uccelli – Firenze Tipografia Calasanziana 1861

  • B

La Compagnia de’ Neri – L’arciconfraternita dei Battuti di Santa Maria della Croce al Tempio – di Eugenio Cappelleti – Felice Le Monnier editore 24 maggio 1927 Firenze

Jacopo Cioni

[cml_media_alt id='32']Jacopo Cioni[/cml_media_alt]

The Oratory of St. Mary the Virgin of the Cross in the Temple

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